Unlike any other legal learning event, Day One of The Summit starts with Horse Work at the Ranch. We thought you might have some questions about the How and Why of Horse Work, so we’ve asked Ginny Telego, Master Trainer and past President of the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) to share some of her expert insight.
IMS: Ginny, we have two E3A certified practitioners on our staff – both our CEO Jennifer Goddard and Account Manager Dana Alley will be facilitating the Horse Work for our clients. Could you explain a bit about the E3A learning model?
GINNY: Sure! The first thing to understand is that, while equine-assisted work is great for therapy, this is not a therapy-based model. In psychotherapy, people are encouraged to look at what has happened to them and learn ways to manage or live with their diagnosis. The horses are great partners in this work, and equine-assisted psychotherapy is a well-documented field.
But what we’re doing at E3A is different. Our approach is based on adult learning theory and experiential education. We are more about the here-and-now: What are you doing right now? Where do you want to go? What do you need to do differently to get there?
For example, in a therapy-based session, the facilitator might ask, “How did that make you feel?” In an educational session, the facilitator’s question will be more like, “Why do you think this is happening?”
E3A practitioners learn a facilitation model that progresses from experience, to reflection, and finally to integration. This is the strongest adult learning model, cementing learning and driving real change.
How does this work in a business setting for entrepreneurs, executives or professionals?
Well, it’s really powerful. First, it gets people out of the office and the conference room and into a setting that is more open, more conducive to free-flowing conversation and creative thinking. This immediately creates an opportunity for participants to be open to learning. They kind of let go of some the pretenses we all carry that often keep us from learning.
For some people, this can initially be off-putting. We are used to being able to protect ourselves in situations with other people, and we protect ourselves from really looking at ourselves. We are all pretty good at controlling the way other people see us. But with horses – they see through all of that immediately. Their feedback is so pure and so honest … with the horses, people have the chance to really learn about themselves, how they lead, how they show up to others.
Can you give us an example?
Sure, take just one simple activity – people and horses are in an arena and the goal is to get the horse to move from one spot to another. People will try everything they “know” to make this happen, with varying results. Sometimes the horse won’t move at all, or it may move away from them. When this happens, the horse is telling you that he doesn’t know what you want. In human terms, he’s saying, “You are not communicating with me in a clear manner. I just don’t get your Vision for this activity.”
Now, when we debrief this activity, we get feedback from the participants about why they think this happened. And, as the interaction and discussion develops, you can see a lot of what’s going on with the person or the team: how they lead, how they communicate, how they interact. People share way more when we are focused on what happened with the horses, they are very open. Then, someone will inevitably say, “Oh man, that happens to me at the office all the time. I have this vision, but I’m not communicating it to my clients, or my team, or whatever.” They make the connections very quickly and naturally – somehow the Horse Work just gets them to let down their defenses and become very open to learning.
As a facilitator, our next job is to take it one step further to integration and action. We’re going to ask and challenge participants to use this discovery. We’re going to say something like, “Now that you have this information, what are you going to do differently? How will you use this to achieve a different outcome?” We’re going to push them to make a specific action plan.
Depending on how much time we have, we may ask them to go try that activity again and see if they can get a different result. When we have that kind of time, the learning is profound.
So, Ginny, how does this compare to what might happen in a lecture-setting?
Well, first, if you just try to tell people what to think or do, they will put up their defenses and rationalize their thoughts. It’s very hard to effect change through a lecture setting. Research shows that people overwhelmingly go back to what they have always done – they either dismiss the new information, forget what they’ve “learned,” or they rationalize it away.
With Horse Work, they really see – they know on an almost visceral level – they will have to do something different to get a different result. They have such a powerful Aha! Moment that they truly understand. And they go back and do things differently in their business. It’s amazing and so satisfying to witness.
Some people may be concerned because they have never been around horses, or feel they don’t know anything about horses. What would you say to them?
When someone tells me they don’t know anything about horses, I say “AWESOME! You don’t have to know anything about horses to do this!” In fact, part of what they may learn is that they need to let go of their preconceived ideas about how horses (or people) think, feel or react. I’ll have clients who say, “Well, I thought the horse would do this, and so I needed to do that.” And when it didn’t work out that way, I’ll ask, “Where else does this happen?”
Sometimes it’s our preconceptions that are the real obstacles in business growth. Through the Horse Work, we allow ourselves to think differently.
Ginny, when you saw the agenda for The Summit, you told us you were really excited about the work we are doing at the Ranch. Can you share with us what it is about The Summit that is so exciting to you, as a Master Trainer and long-term practitioner in this area of adult learning?
Oh well, yes. I just really connected with your theme of trampling limiting beliefs. When I read some of the beliefs you list as examples – especially that one, “I just need to be more efficient,” I knew you were going to have a great event. I wonder how much energy people put into trying to be more efficient, thinking it’s a lack of efficiency that’s holding them back when that energy really needs to be directed somewhere else. My observation is that it’s seldom (if ever) inefficiency that stops business growth. That’s kind of like the married couple fighting over the salt shaker – it’s never about the salt!
I’m so excited for you guys and what you’ve got going there at Legacy Ranch. You’re giving people a great opportunity to learn and grow. Number one, it’s fun. Who wouldn’t want to go work with horses in Colorado? I mean, that’s great. And it will really help people open up their minds to the possibilities ahead of them.
October 18-20 | Colorado Springs | Cheyenne Mountain Resort & Legacy Ranch
Early registrations save $200 before Sept. 15th.
Ginny Telego is past president of the Board of Directors of the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A), an international professional membership organization offering training, certification, business development and resources for the implementation of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) programs by educators, coaches, professional development trainers and other facilitators. She is both a Certified Advanced Practitioner and Master Trainer for E3A and has traveled nationally and internationally to facilitate equine assisted leadership development as well as to train and certify new E3A practitioners. She has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and is President and founder of Wager’s Way, LLC, an equine experiential education business offering a variety of programs dedicated to helping people improve both their personal and professional lives by working with horses.