carey arnett

Horses are her sanctuary – Carey Arnett

Horses are sanctuary for the President of Arnett & Burgess Pipeliners.

Carey’s story with horses goes back a long way. When she was seven she brought home a riding lesson brochure and announced she wanted to ride. “My grandfather thought he’d start me off with a month of lessons to see if I was really interested. I never let my parents quit.”

Carey was hesitant on the question about how many horses she has “they’re a little like potato chips you can’t have just one.”

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World Champion CEO

World Champion CEO – Terri Holowath

My next conversation is with a World Champion!

Terri Holowath attained the title in 2015, winning every event she and her horse Jade (Red Hot Jade) entered in the National Reined Cow Horse Association Tour (NRCHA). Not bad for a part-time rider in the non-pro two rein working cow horse category. Her other full-time position, Managing Partner/CEO with Catalyst LLP in south Calgary, Alberta.

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horse doesn't know how to lie

A horse doesn’t know how to lie – Murray McGonigle

Murray is a storyteller. A skill he no doubt employed over his thirty year career in the power line industry. “I would have to say storytelling comes from my father he answered most questions with a story. You had to find the answer in the story, if you didn’t you probably weren’t ready or needing the answer anyhow.”

I’ve heard many a tale this past year and we have covered many topics, most which end back at the importance of reading a horse. We share the goal of a bridle horse, Murray just happens to be a lot further along.

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Buck Branmnaman Bozeman 2017

Observe, Remember, Compare – Buck Brannaman

Horses have always been a part of his life. From the age of 12 Buck Brannaman has been starting horses, before that he was an accomplished trick roper. The past 35 years Buck has lived most of the year on the road crossing the United States, visiting Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan sharing his experience and helping people better understand how to get along with their horses. In 2011 the film Buck documenting Bucks life and work, launched to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.

Buck is a leader in the horsemanship field and I have watched his progression as a teacher through the past dozen or so years. I have always said to be good with horses you have to be great with people, Buck is both. My annual trek, with and without horses, down to listen, learn and ride with him in Montana has become part of my own professional development.

After a long day in the sun, with temperatures well into the mid 30sC, as is typical of his good nature Buck agreed to answer a few questions.

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patience in the saddle

Learning Patience in the Saddle – Luree Williamson

For me, it is easy to get back in the saddle, it is however, more challenging to get back at the keyboard! The first half of the year for The Natural Leader has been brilliantly busy and the arrival of spring all consumed with projects that waited for six months. Early spring is the bug free season so time to catch up on those long rides!

The next conversation about leadership learning from a horse is with Luree Williamson, CEO Agriculture for Life. Luree’s life has long been influenced by horses. Her current role is dedicated to bringing a better understanding and appreciation of agriculture and it’s connection to all Albertan’s through the delivery of agriculture education and farm safety programs.

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Solitude & Quiet in the Pasture

Finding Solitude in the Arena

We’ve all heard the statement “if you want something done ask a busy person.”

If you want it done really well ask Ingrid. She is what you might say, one busy woman. In the past two decades Ingrid raised three kids, bought an ailing horse publication and turned it around and has been involved with a variety of community activities. Nowadays she serves on the board of the Alberta and Canadian Cutting Horse Associations as well as Stampede Western Performance Committee.

Then just when some people are thinking of slowing down, Ingrid and her partner Dean Ness embarked on a new adventure, opening Cody & Souix in Inglewood, Calgary.  The store offers a blend of modern west clothing and a curated selection of artists and artisan work. For Ingrid it is much more than a store, Cody & Souix represents a lifestyle that speaks to frontier ideals such as individualism, a life outdoors and protecting the remaining wide open spaces of the West.

Ingrid also rides cutting horses.

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Beginning

I am not one for making New Years Resolutions, mostly because what I hear seem like empty promises. The yoga studio is full in January something I know will change in the coming weeks.

Each ride, every program I am looking to fine tune one of my actions as I recognize and better understand my own behaviours. So rather than a resolution, this is more of a confessional.

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It’s a Matter of Trust

I had to trust her, I was reaching to pick up a back foot. It had taken the better part of a year to get to this point and if actions reflect thoughts, trust had to be visible in everything I did. I had to trust me.

Pheobe joined the herd when a divorce required the assets be divided. Her trip to the meat pen was intercepted by a friend who put out a call for anyone willing to take on mares in foal. My offer to take a couple was clearly emotional as the logic of taking on four more horses typically requires planning.

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Does Your Leadership Language need an Interpreter?

Leadership300_horzDo people really understand what you are saying? The question came to mind while watching a recent Buck Brannaman clinic.

Since the release of the movie BUCK, people have flocked to his clinics. Perhaps drawn by fame, the romantic image of the cowboy or simply because he is a fabulous horseman. An entertainer as well Buck speaks in metaphor and through stories of his own experience. The classes are large so he suggests “if you behave like an alcoholic you will always think I am talking about you”. Hoping the magic will rub off, people and horses “waller” around the arena for three to four days, often never to return.

For a number of years I have made the drive to Montana to ride with Buck. This year friend, and co-facilitator in The Natural Leader programs, Kristen Cumming came along. Enjoying a cold beer after a long hot day in the arena, a brilliant idea surfaced. Buck needs an interpreter! We laughed at the thought of Kristen, in plain language, doing voice over to what Buck was saying. While it was in good fun, I have to admit the idea has merit.

It was most apparent when he demonstrated a pretty basic maneuver, “With your rein ask your horse to step over with his front feet”, the instruction continues, “open the door for your horse to move through”. Watching people can be painful as their frustration becomes evident as they try harder to do what they don’t understand.

The conversation around “open the door” and the actual meaning of “shift your weight out of the way of the horse’s leg” had me wondering how many people truly understand what their leaders are saying.

All organizations create their own language to set annual goals and objectives, define the quarterly expectations or even the task for the day. Done to aid in the effectiveness and efficiency of communication, just as metaphors do, acronyms replace department names, strategic plans, and programs, meetings are often conducted as if everyone understands the expressions and language. As a leadership consultant, I often find myself asking for the definition so as not to be left behind.

Communication is a common topic in The Natural Leader programs. As people work through an activity with a horse what quickly becomes clear is how much we assume we are communicating when in reality we are possibly only delivering half the message.

Effective communication shows up through the clarity of our intention, actions, emotions and the words we choose, the impact on others shows up in their actions or lack of them. Consider when you have committed to an objective, or idea, and you don’t experience the enthusiasm you were expecting from your team. How do you interpret that? If they had an interpreter, what might they say to you?

People who don’t understand, don’t stay. It is not a reflection of the competency of the leader or their ability, it is simply a communication break down.

All the elements of the activity Buck demonstrated are there. His subtle actions are enough for the horse, but rarely enough for his larger audience, you have to be dedicated and observant. Without seeing the weight shift the metaphor of opening the door has no meaning. A few more specific and concise words would go a long way to more riders understanding how he achieves his results.

If you had an interpreter what words would they choose to complete your thought?

——-

Nancy Lowery, lives and works in Calgary Alberta Canada. Her business The Natural Leader offers powerful leadership training through interactions with horses.

Presence

90daysIt should have been easy. The idea was simple enough, get Gabe used to stuff happening around him.

I have learned how complicated simple can be. Now well past ninety days, we continue one step at a time working through the Tarp Challenge. Gabe remains hesitant about the blue tarp, but what has changed it is that it is no longer about getting him used to the tarp. It is now about how I offer the information and allow him the opportunity to interpret my intention. To a horse everything means something and nothing, means nothing. We are getting closer to nothing.

Horsemanship is a journey and each day with Gabe, each session with people I learn more about how I present myself.  Through recent programs leadership presence has been the focus of conversation. We begin each session asking what would each individual like to get out of their day, defining a goal for themselves. We hear a lot about what they would like to see in their staff, changes in how their communication is received or thoughts that relate to getting others to perform their best, for some it is a challenge to get them to see the role they play in that outcome.

It takes seconds for a horse to figure out a person’s “I statement”. However, having the human articulate it plainly and clearly is another story. When they find it, it is gold for us in the arena.

To be honest it really doesn’t matter whom I pair with who or what activities we have planned for a sessions. The horses simply do what they do and the people will say the the most amazing things. I so love to hear it when someone simply states what they need to do differently as a result of the interactions with the horse. What was challenging for them to articulate in the classroom rolls off their tongue in the arena.

I am so proud of my horses. They do not just tolerate another human on the end of the lead line, but they share with them something that becomes so profound. I know that person is leaving with a whole new perspective on what leadership presence means to them.

Just as it is no longer about getting Gabe used to the commotion going on around him, but rather about how  “I can support and help Gabe understand that he can trust me through whatever may be happening around us.”  I still want Gabe to accept a blue tarp, but it is what I am willing to do in order for him to get there that makes the difference.

What’s in it for me? Immense satisfaction on what I can accomplish if I set my heart and mind to something.

 

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