Tuesday, 28 October, 2008 1:36 PM
Can Horses Teach Humans
Soul of a Horse" by Joe Camp
Center, CA -- Many of us assume leadership is an innate
skill; something you’re born with or inherently lacking. But
what if you could develop leadership skills by acting like a horse?
On the surface, it sounds strange. However, when you consider that
horses have roamed the earth for more than fifty-five million years
and herd leaders helped them survive (without human assistance)—emulating
equine behavior sounds downright smart. After all, aren’t
guidance, protection, and longevity the benefits we hope to gain
from our leaders?
Understanding a horse’s perspective requires keen insight
and compassion. Enter Joe Camp. While moviegoers know him as the
film writer, producer, director and author who made “Benji”
a tour-de-force on four paws, Camp has immersed himself into the
majestic world of horses.
His discoveries are revolutionizing the conventional wisdom about
horse ownership. Camp’s journey into understanding horses
has unlocked some startling revelations which demonstrate how herd
hierarchy mirrors relationships among people too.
Camp’s new book, The Soul of a Horse (Harmony Books www.TheSoulOfAHorse.com)
explores the bonds between horse and human. During their foray into
becoming ‘horse people’ Camp and his wife assumed standard
advice would teach them what’s best for horses. They were
Lesson number one: seek the facts. “Never assume just because
something has been done a certain way for hundreds of years that
it’s the right way,” says Camp. “We mistakenly
believed horses need shoes because it’s accepted practice.
In actuality, shoes damage a horse’s hooves and impair its
circulatory system. But you won’t learn critical facts if
you follow the status quo. Being a good leader means asking a lot
of questions, not blindly following tradition.”
Lesson number two: leadership is steeped in trust. Camp’s
voracious appetite for research helped him unearth secrets to establishing
strong bonds with horses. He came across a technique using body
language and gestures to imitate the way horses interact and communicate
with each other—most importantly, inviting them to join your
herd. Camp says the profound act of allowing a horse to choose whether
or not it wants to be with you forges trust.
“Leadership is not free and it’s not easy; you must
earn trust,” says Camp. “Establishing trust is vital
to developing a relationship where your horse wants to try its best
and work hard for you. The same goes for people; if they don’t
trust you, they will never give you 100%.”
Lesson number three: ditch the intimidation tactics. Contrary to
common belief, the stallion doesn’t bully the herd into submission.
His primary roles: procreating and protecting the herd from predators.
The true leader is the matriarch; typically an older and wiser mare.
She decides when the herd will eat, move to a new area, or stop
to rest. The other horses view her as the steward of safety and
survival. She’s earned their trust because she knows when
to discipline and when to politely seek good behavior.
“Using discipline is not the same as being an intimidator,”
says Camp. “Horses rely on the herd leader to steer them from
harm—not inflict it upon them. Intimidation and fear damage
the spirit and destroy trust. It simply doesn’t work in the
long run. Not with horses, not with people.”
Another valuable lesson stems from Camp’s wry observation
that horses aren’t human, so we shouldn’t treat them
as if they are. Basically, your personal preferences shouldn’t
dictate what’s good for everyone else.
Lesson number four: take others’ best interests to heart.
“You don’t really need to be a horse to be part of the
herd,” says Camp. “You just need to spend the time and
effort to think like one. And you need to care. Those tenets also
apply to leadership. Once people know you care and you can put yourself
in their shoes and work from their end of the lead rope, you’ve
fortified their belief in you as the leader.”
Even if you’re not the leader of your own herd just yet, Camp
strongly believes if you apply a little horse sense to your daily
interactions, it won’t be long before everyone around you
sees you in a new light. And that’s a lesson worth keeping.
About Joe Camp
Joe Camp is the writer, producer, and director of all the celebrated
Benji movies and programs, and the creator of the canine superstar.
He is the author of the inspirational memoir Benji & Me, and
has also written several children’s books. As a passionate
advocate for children and animals, Camp’s mission is to revolutionize
the way people think about horses and their treatment. He lives
in California with his wife Kathleen and three step-children. They
work tirelessly to care for their herd of six horses, five dogs,
and two cats. His powerful, life-changing experience with the first
horse he ever brought home motivated him to become a champion for
creating a better world for horses. www.TheSoulOfAHorse.com.
Source: News and Experts