Horse Sense


Back in the day, Arizona was settled by cowboys (and cowgirls) who brought an amazing frontier spirit full of qualities we all hold near to our hearts today.


We remember Arizona’s earliest settlers for their integrity, strength of spirit, and moral character. They were yesterday’s version of today’s entrepreneurs, forging ahead with relentless determination, not accepting defeat, embracing obstacles and overcoming them.


Who among us wouldn’t want to be described that way in the work we do right now? And given the current political climate, we need to ensure we never lose sight of those values.


Arizona’s first “entrepreneurs” also had something back then that we could use more of today – horse sense.


Horse sense was more than the exercise of sound practical judgment. Back then, Arizona’s settlers relied on their horses for survival, and their relationships with their horses often meant the difference between life and death.


We might not need them for survival any longer, but we could still learn a lesson or two from horses that might make our relationships with each other a bit better.


It reminded me of a Scottsdale company I encountered a few years back that uses the power of horses to improve human relationships.


The Gift of Equus says horses are good teachers when it comes to balanced leadership and trust because they respond to non-verbal physical cues. By working with horses, people can break through mental barriers to see how they are perceived by others.


The company says that studies show 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues. “Because horses have extraordinary sensitivity to non-verbal cues, they can provide you with a mirror reflection of your body language, offering immediate insight to your communication skills and helping you connect effectively with other people in every aspect of your life.”


Horses are often used as a resource for leadership, healing and self-improvement courses and many human resources professionals say they are good for team building exercises, too.


The company says people have become solely focused on words while the real messages are coming across nonverbally.


Using that info, you might consider these takeaways as action items that could improve you’re ability to communicate more effectively:


1. Talk less.


2. Don’t try to hide emotions – good or bad – from those who you work with regularly.


3. Body language may be more important than the words coming from your mouth.


4. Sincere relationship-building communication does not happen via email.


If that’s simple horse sense, I know we all could use a lot more of it.