“My connection with them is through joy and love; it’s not through fear, it’s not through insults. That’s not how I lead,” Tom Brady, New England Patriots’ quarterback, on leading his teammates.
Tom Brady is all over the news this week, as he prepares for the big Super Bowl football game Sunday. In his documentary “Tom vs Time” he made the above statement which all leaders should strive towards, including equestrians since we are by default our horses’ leaders. Tom certainly has enough leverage and longevity with the team’s owner and coaches that he could get away with leading his team with threats and bullying, but he knows that the best results come from everyone enjoying themselves and feeling appreciated.
Paulette Evans, horse trainer at Ribbleton Horse Attunement, also instructs that we should “...be important to the horse, but not controlling.” This advice reminds me of my boss at the job I hold down to help pay my mortgage and buy horse treats. He leads in such an effectively competent way that everyone in the office knows who’s in charge, even though he never pulls rank on us or plays “The Enforcer” role.
The late Cowboy Sage Ray Hunt said, “First you go with the horse, then he goes with you, then you can go together.”
We’ve all witnessed riders who try to bully or threaten their horses. As prey animals, horses originate from a place of fear so it doesn’t get anyone anywhere to escalate that. This never ends well. It’s worth taking the extra time and effort to make the horse’s experience with humans be one of mutual enjoyment.
Our horses depend on us for their very existence, so that makes us the ones in charge by default. Real results will come if we choose to lead with love over intimidation.