Intimidator or Strong Leader?

This week in my Core Confidence Class this comment and question came up: “It’s a fine line between intimidation and strong leadership. Is it fear and insecurity (on the part of the rider) that causes us to cross the line and how do we realize the difference?”

I really like this comment/question because this is something that’s important to me. It’s a foundation part of everything I teach. I want to respond to it with all of you.


VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, it’s Barb.

This week in my Core Confidence Class this comment and question came up: “It’s a fine line between intimidation and strong leadership. Is it fear and insecurity (on the part of the rider) that causes us to cross the line and how do we realize the difference?”

I really like this comment/question because this is something that’s important to me. It’s a foundation part of everything I teach. I want to respond to it with all of you.

I’m going to take it step-by-step.

She says that there is a “fine line between intimidation and strong leadership and how do you know the difference?”

We are definitely the leaders of our horses. That being said, I think it depends upon what the definition is for each rider of strong leadership.

For some people, it might be to make sure your horse tows the line. I think it is important for a horse to be mannerly and responsive… but it’s the way that we get there that really matters.

To me, it’s really not about intimidation. For me, with a horse, strong leadership equates to building their confidence. And building confidence with a horse means going step-by-step, applying a cue (or a sequence of cues)… knowing how much pressure for that cue… and then releasing the pressure so that the horse knows they gave the right response.

Intimidation and getting harsh can happen for a couple of reasons.

Maybe the steps of skill development presented to the horse are out of sequence, or the rider thinks “more is better.” They keep forcing the issue instead of looking for the release… or other options.

And this is what is key to me. I believe that whether it’s with people or horses… the most important thing we can do is build confidence.

I’m not interested personally in any kind of intimidation or feeling “power over”. I’m interested in developing potential, being a team member, and constant learning.

I think that strong leadership needs to be defined within each rider.

Now for the second part. “When do you know when you’re crossing the line?”

We all get emotional when we ride our horses. Maybe we want a lead change, or we want to cut a cow, or we want a canter departure. When we don’t get what we want, we start to get frustrated, or angry, or nervous. All of those things can be “crossing the line”.

To get what we want, we need to remain or regain being calm and very clear… even through the frustration, or whatever we feel. So the answer to the question, “How do we know if we’re crossing the line?” is to become aware of our emotions. This is critical. We can do this by using thinking tools and body tools to come back to being calm and clear and focused.

Being in that state is what allows us to figure out the next step… or just maybe pause for a little while until we can get grounded again.

Make self-awareness a practice all the time when you ride. It’s a lifelong part of riding.

Becoming frustrated or angry is part of everyone’s lives. It can certainly happen easily in riding. But when you have the value that when you experience “unkind” emotional states, you will come back to calmness. When you are self-aware and make this your number one priority, you keep yourself open to success.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment for me and have a great week.

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Comments

8 Comments on Intimidator or Strong Leader?

  1. Kelly Scilingo on Sun, 2nd Aug 2020 1:39 pm
  2. Becoming a team on the ground and also when your riding is the key to success.
    Learning from mistakes makes your journey with your horse that much more enjoyable.
    This was a wonderful succession.

  3. Ray Randle on Sun, 2nd Aug 2020 5:09 pm
  4. Hi Barb
    This is an excellent summary. I think the best advice I’ve had is if you’re feeling angry get off and do something else. Anger is a very negative emotion with out much positive outcome
    Thanks
    Ray

  5. Greg Solderitch on Sun, 2nd Aug 2020 5:51 pm
  6. Good lesson to remember. Its easy to get side tracked with emotion. When a ger creeps in i try to refocus on something else. Thanks

  7. Claire on Sun, 2nd Aug 2020 6:59 pm
  8. Barb-what a great thing to be reminded of-and truly one of the conundrums of training. I’ve seen so many be overly permissive and “gushing” for lack of a better word-and then when put in intimidating circumstances-completely “loose it”.
    I’d say that all yours and other podcasts and training books and DVD’s have helped me a lot-but also just riding-getting my balance as a child was a gift that is harder for those coming into this as an adult.
    Age-I’m not near as “fiery” as I was when I was younger and it is helpful to be able to take a breath-and not react in anger. This alone has built so much biddable responsiveness in my sometimes very reactive mare.
    So many are truly “overmounted”. Many have personalities that do not mesh with their horses.
    This takes so much time!!! A Horse in the Spanish riding school at performance is an average of age 12. Much of the “finish” on show horses is really consistent daily training for at least a year or more. (I feel our system pushes them way too young-but that is my opinion) Seeing finished young horses is often misleading for the “average” rider to absorb because they don’t have the level of expertise to understand that “dance” of ask/release that has gone into days and days and weeks and weeks.

    I like the idea of “partnership.”..Yes-For the most part-I have the “final say”-but my horses can all state an opinion on something and sometimes I’d really better go with their leadership, as they are rarely trying to “get away with something”.
    Horses might not be ABLE to do something because they are not conditioned-or they are truly sore-or they don’t understand what we are asking because we ask for the finished product instead of the first step towards it. And-if they are young and growing-they may not have the balance and construction to pull something off.
    Thanks for listening. You make a better world for these miraculous animals and the people who adore them and their way of being in the world.

  9. sally labree on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 8:04 am
  10. This is an issue I come back to again and again, finding the balance, Its also an amazing life skill with people, I don’t want to be a door mat or a Bully.
    I find so many of your thoughts and tips work just as well with people as they do with my horses. Thank you for what you do.

  11. Eileen on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 11:43 am
  12. Barb. A great response. We want to be a great team and every great team has a leader. If we are going to be a team the leadership has to be one of teaching and fairness. Your comments remind us all that humans are emotional and it is up to us to control our emotions to Allow horses to understand By the release of pressure not applying more. Look to ourselves and what we are doing and our horses will respond. It’s not quitting when you step back and stop something when it not working and we are greeting frustrated it is taking care to not break the trust of our partner. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. DeAnna Ball on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 2:39 pm
  14. I sure appreciate this. I like your idea of building my horse’s confidence in my leadership. That she knows she needs to do what I’m asking her to do, and that she won’t get harsh treatment for a mistake. I will keep asking till she can find the answer, and give the release when she is soft.

  15. Carol MacGregor on Tue, 4th Aug 2020 4:14 pm
  16. Hi Barb, Wow, this was a great subject with so much depth to try to really understand! You explained things so well and so accurately. And even though I’m still wanting to work on those more advanced maneuvers–roll back, collected canter departure- probably getting the right information of the steps involved in teaching these things is of paramount importance–it’s not about just kicking harder—“Information is power” and “Frustrations begins when knowledge ends” are accurate statements. We are so fortunate to have great trainers teaching these steps via dvds, videos, etc.

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