Tapping Into Your “Horse Sense”

“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” -W.C. Fields

I was mesmerized by the interactions of a horse, unresponsive to training so far, and a professional “horse whisperer.” As the two interacted inside the ring, the trainer moved around the horse watching, walking, talking, petting, directing and even complimenting. After 45 minutes, trainer and horse had become partners. The horse whisperer was able to guide the horse to follow him, do figure eights, turn around, back up and more. What began as a tentative encounter ended as a veritable horse/trainer ballet.

Last week I had the unique opportunity to witness Louis Wood’s work with an untrained horse out in horse country just outside Washington, DC. I attended this leadership program, the same one chosen by hundreds of Fairfax County First Responders, as continued professional development so I can stay on the cutting edge of leadership training and psychology to serve my Washington, DC life coaching clients better.

Later seated on the horse, Wood was able to move in different directions without using a bit or reins. He used his knees and heels to motivate the horse to move, without whips, tugs, pushes or food rewards. After an hour of this, the owner of the horse was brought in to saddle up and ride. In short order, she was astonished as she too was also able to ride and guide her horse bareback, under Wood’s close supervision.

“Horse Sense” for Professional Life Coaches

Before there was Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ), there was “horse sense.” The opposite of “book smarts,” “horse sense” is a great term for the practical knowledge and good judgment about ordinary life that so many people exhibit.

The term is completely applicable to the leadership principles and coaching competencies Mr. Wood embodies. His approach to leadership development is incredibly helpful for those who wish to engage the heart, mind and body to create meaningful partnerships with clients and colleagues, using the beautiful metaphor of his work with a 2,000 pound horse.

“Horse Sense” and Emotional Intelligence

According to psychologist Dr. John D. Mayer, who has published extensively on emotional intelligence, here is what EI is NOT:

  • Agreeableness
  • Optimism
  • Happiness
  • Motivation
  • Calmness

Someone with a high EQ DOES have the ability to:

  • perceive emotions
  • access and generate emotions to assist thinking
  • understand emotions
  • regulate emotions (of both yourself and others)

Horse whisperer Louis Wood would never have been able to accomplish what he did with the horse if he relied on his personality traits alone. Sure, he was a charming guy. But his “horse sense” had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with his ability to perceive, understand and regulate both his own and the horse’s emotions. He was able to take charge of and control what happened next with the horse because of his ability to manage the “mood” in the ring.

People who are considered to have high EI can solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly. They can correctly perceive emotions in other people’s faces, gestures and words, and what the emotions convey. For example, they know that angry people can be dangerous, that happy people want to relate with others, and that sad people often prefer to be alone. High EI people can manage their own as well as other people’s emotions. They know how to use the “mood” in their own lives to promote specific types of thinking. Solving problems requires less cognitive effort for those high in EI.

This is why the old-school methods of “breaking horses,” according to Mr. Wood, are not only outdated. They’re less effective. In the same way, I find that when many of my life coaching clients come to me, they’ve (unsuccessfully) tried all manners of self-flagellation, guilt, pushing, striving and grasping to get what they want. This is why life coaching with an ally or guide like me can be the one thing that helps my clients break through to a new way of living.

You’re No Horse … I’m No Cowboy

washington dc life coach catharine eatonAs a Life Coach, I am friendly and a people person. I develop great relationships with all of my clients, and we have fun with coaching. But first and foremost, I am not my clients’ friend. My primary role is as their advocate. My clients have come to the realization that they don’t need another parent, sibling, friend, or co-worker telling them what they should be doing. They are ready to pursue the life they were born to live, and have always dreamed of – not to please others or fulfill someone else’s dreams, hopes or aspirations for their life.

As your Life Coach, my job is to move with you, ask questions to bring you to “aha” moments, and work through my proven coaching methodology and toolbox to help you along in the process of self-discovery. It has nothing to do with me or my personality traits, and everything to do with helping you live life to its utmost potential. Unlike a friendship that involves give-and-take, a life coaching relationship is unilateral – it’s a one-way street exclusively focused on you and your goals.

Like the horse and his trainer, we establish a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We observe, watch, listen, and feel to learn from each other. (Read more about how Life Coaching differs from therapy or the advice of a good friend.) This type of relationship allows my clients to work through goals, achieve them and have a fulfilling life without so much frustration and overwhelm. I love the metaphor, but we can agree: you’re no horse, and I’m no cowboy. But if you sometimes feel like a racehorse, primed and ready to break through the gates and run the race meant for you (but not able to quite see what’s holding you back) schedule your free initial Life Coaching consultation today. We’ll chart the processes you need to remove fear, jump over roadblocks and squash any anxiety around them. Let’s explore how you can have what you want and live with more ease and freedom … the kind of freedom that comes with living life on your terms.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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