I had the incredible opportunity to attend "Leading by the Reins" during my time instructing at PEAK Technical Institute. "Leading by the Reins" is a sister program to the school I was teaching at in Tennessee and I was delighted to take a break and be able to participate as a student for something I had always wanted to try! (Update: Leading by the Reins is now affiliated with Mane Support)
Up until this weekend leadership retreat, I had never ridden a horse! (I think maybe I had been on one when I was a young child at the circus and the handler gives each kid a turn around the ring....but I don't think that really counts!) I had always wanted to try riding a horse and now I had the best opportunity!
At "Leading By The Reins" the goal is to help people better understand solid leadership principles through working with an animal. As they explained in the lectures horses are fearful by nature, but they do understand authority and leadership, so once that trust is established it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Horses are intuitive and can pick up the handler's insecurities, so it is important to show confidence and leadership skills and then you will find better success when leading people in a business setting.
Through interactions with the horses, you begin to recognize traits common to leadership such as: "justice, judgement, dependability, initiative, tact, integrity, enthusiasm, etc." (as quoted from the "Leading by the Reins" literature.) These characteristics motivate both horses and people so when you are taken out of the context of an everyday life leadership setting and put into an unfamiliar one, it is easier to see ways in which your own leadership skills fall short and how you can improve as a leader for those you serve.
The facilities were lovely as you can see in the photos below. We bunked together as a group in a beautiful upscale log cabin that was beautiful decorated where we shared meals and stories and grew together as a team over the four days we were there. Our time was spent in classroom discussions about leadership skills and how those skills related to the horses, and then we would have time each day to work with the horses directly. In a few days I went from having never ridden a horse to at the end of the weekend participating in a four mile trail ride! WOW, what an experience that was! I was so proud of my progress in such a short amount of time and it inspired me to go back to my work life as a more effective and confident leader.
The Program Director and Lead Instructor for the course is Mr. Mike Branch. "He is an internationally known horse trainer who has spent decades learning not only the social character of horses but what real qualities and character must reside within a human for a horse to willingly follow." (as quoted from their literature) Mike is an exceptional man! So humble yet so strong and sure, he exudes the qualities of leadership and is an exemplary role model. I was inspired by his lectures and instruction in the horse stalls.
Anyone in a leadership position, from a C-Suite Executive, to a teacher or coach, or even a parent would benefit from this leadership retreat. In the evenings there is time for sing-a-longs by the fire, but also time for quiet reflection as the sun sets over the pond...you will find a stillness not only in the landscape but also in yourself. My spirit was refreshed and recharged after this experience and I highly recommend it!
One last piece of advice: the location is 45 minutes from any type of store, so don't forget to pack your sunscreen and sunglasses or any other amenities that might make your experience more enjoyable or else you will miss out on quality visiting time with your team while you drive almost two hours round trip pick up what you forgot! So pack your bags and sign up for this experience...it is one not to miss! If you would like Luxury Lifestyle Logistics to coordinate a leadership retreat for you at "Leading by the Reins" please contact us and we would be happy to assist your group's reservation! This would be an excellent team building experience for any organization!