What do horses have to do with the learning and development processes of humans?
Learning works through experience and emotions. Seminar concepts that convey knowledge through lectures and dry exercises without these two components have a depressingly poor implementation rate. All knowledge that is not directly implemented in practice will be lost again in a few weeks. We have to combine learning with experience and action if we want to reach people.
Horses do not understand our language and status symbols, but they are masters at reading a person’s body language and overall impression. Even if language has no meaning for them, the tone for horses contains a clear statement.
Even people recognize, mostly unconsciously, whether the body language and voice of a person are in harmony with the spoken word or whether the overall impression is contradictory. But they filter their response according to hierarchy and situation. Uncertainty and internal contradictions are equally recognizable for employees and horses. But the horse shows what it perceives. The employees have much more options. Humans can say yes and do the opposite, say A and mean B.
Horses, on the other hand, are direct and undiplomatic. They reflect their impression immediately and without any filter of courtesy. Anyone who interacts with them in the simple exercises in the seminars understands the reactions. Every change in the inner attitude arrives at the training partner horse via diverse, unconscious signals. The experience is immediate and usually does not even need to be put into words.
To lead a horse means to experience leadership. Moving a horse to simple things (such as walking in circles, faster, slower, stopping) reveals much to the participants about their ability to lead employees.
The concept of Horse Assisted Education has become widespread worldwide. I work together with Gerhard Krebs, who developed the concept in the late 1990s. Further information can be found on the