Kirsty and I visited a farm near Stirling to try out an unusual team building activity, where we met two passionate ladies and 2 rather colourful characters. Read about our ‘Red Horse Speaks’ experience…

It was a crisp and sunny winter morning when Kirsty and I arrived at the farm, excited and a little bit nervous about what to expect.

With a welcome cup of hot tea, we settled down in the tack room with the other ‘testers’, where Beth and Liz introduced us to the concept of ‘the red horse speaks’.

The program draws on the ability of horses to mirror human behaviour, facilitating fascinating insights for leadership, team-building and personal development.

Experiential learning like this is said to be extremely beneficial for appraising professional team interactions and for assessing group and individual non-verbal communication.

Meeting the horses….

Having then learnt about the program, it was time to meet the horses and see for ourselves what type of learning benefits it would offer us as individuals, and for our visiting incentive groups.

We were introduced to the two horses whom we spend time with doing a variety of exercises, from simple things like grooming, to leading the horses by non-verbal communication around the paddock.

Throughout the exercises Liz and Beth were on hand to talk to us about the horse’s reaction to our movements, touch, authority and presence. Even though both Kirsty and I have previous spent time around horses, it was amazing to actually think about and understand why the horses were reacting in particular ways.

Interestingly, each person in the group had a different experience with each horse – one was an ex-police horse and the other a family pet, so their reactions to us were very different.

It was an exhilarating experience where each of us got the chance to look at our own leadership, management and team behaviors, through the reflection of the horses’ behavior, in a relaxed, calm and non-judgmental environment.

Reflection

The learning outcomes participants can take away from the experience include:

  • self-awareness
  • respect for ourselves and others
  • setting and achieving goals
  • having clear limits and boundaries
  • aligning words and actions

I certainly took away some valuable insights about my own team behavior, action aligning, and management style – things that I hadn’t previously been aware of.

Kirsty also tells me that she too drew some interesting insights about her leadership style from the exercises.

Is this suitable for incentive groups?

As we all know, the global economy isn’t out of the woods yet and as organizations still face an uphill struggle, an exercise like this should be seriously considered as part of a team-building or incentive trip.

Programs can be tailored towards focused team-building, or if your visit to Scotland is solely an incentive program, this is an opportunity to allow your group to do some self-evaluation, in an altogether different way, that will leave them invigorated with their achievements with the horses and give them a sense of quite reflection on their own behaviors, both inside and outside of the workplace.

So what type of group would this suit?

  • Groups up to 40 can be accommodated as part of a rotational activity
  • Those who have gone through a period of change or uncertainty
  • Established teams who want to enhance their strengths be learning about themselves as individuals and as a unit
  • New teams who want to learn about the dynamics of the group
  • Those who want an uplifting and inspiring program activity, without the ‘team-building’ tag attached to it

In fact, we both think that our small, but close-knit team at Hello would even benefit from it!

If you’d like to know if ‘The Red Horse Speaks’ would be suitable for your next group travelling to Scotland, get in contact with Kirsty (kirsty@helloscotland.com) and she’d love to chat to you about it!

Lisa

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