Gio is the youngest and newest member of the Leaders by Nature equine team but is already doing outstanding work. He nearly didn’t join the team because his first impact almost derailed him.
It is national story week this week so this is gio’s story of how he came to do Leadership with Horses. This is an extract from my book Leading through uncertainty.
“Pick me,” the horse seemed to be saying.
I had gone to see a horse called Gio and my eyes were drawn to the large black horse in the stable at the end. His eyes locked onto mine, and I hoped it would be him. The yard owner Julie led me down the yard and indeed, the beautiful black horse was Gio. I entered his stable. His heart was racing with anxiety, and he was trying to hold it all together. I wasn’t sure he was suitable to work with me and my clients. I didn’t want an anxious horse. My horses need to be confident in their own skin because clients are often anxious when they arrive.
I looked Gio in the eye and felt the depth of his connection as he drew me in. My heart desperately wanted to say yes I’ll take him, but my head over-ruled because I couldn’t risk taking on an anxious horse. I already had a horse called Tiffin who gets overwhelmed with anxious clients. It was too big a risk. All logic and reasoning made it clear that he was not the horse for me.
Derailed by anxiety
Meanwhile, my heart was telling me a different story. In the course of my work, I often help leaders reduce their anxiety and find a place of greater calm in uncertainty. I wanted to help Gio find his new home so he could relax and be less anxious, and I found myself committing to him that I would help him. It felt like a crazy thing to do to tell a horse I would help him find the right home. I had no idea how I might do that, and I didn’t exactly have the time to keep going to visit him either. Somehow it felt the right thing to do. There was something about him that kept me going back.
Each time I returned, Gio was pleased to see me. On one occasion, he was out in the field, and nobody had been able to get near him with a head collar. We thought he had become semi-feral since being out in the field with no human interaction. I went out with a head collar, thinking if the experienced grooms could not get near him, there was no way I would as a novice horse owner.
Gio chose his owner
I approached the gate of the field where he was grazing with three other horses. As I walked through the gate, he looked up and trotted over to me. Clearly he recognised me. I put the head collar over his head, convinced he wouldn’t leave without the other horses. Horses are herd animals and find their safety with other horses, so sometimes a young horse will not go on their own. He walked with me without faltering. He had decided I was his new owner, and he would not go with anyone else!
Horses are highly sensitive creatures, as people are too. The uncertainty about Gio’s future made him anxious. He seemed to know that I was willing to help him, and he became less anxious as a result. I decided I would take a risk with him after all. In hindsight, I was Gio’s last chance at life, and he seemed to know it too.
Integrating head, heart and gut
I’d integrated the wisdom of my head, heart and gut and found the ideal solution for both of us. Gio has turned out to be amazing at working with clients . He’s huge at 17.2 hands tall (approx. 1.78m to the top of his shoulder), but extremely gentle. He seems to recognise that he could trample us and is extraordinarily sensitive and respectful around people. I liken it to being a human being not wanting to step on a cat! Gio is a natural connector, wanting to be with people and yearning for a job. Since settling into his new life with me, he has a purpose in life for the first time in his seven years, and his anxiety has reduced as his life became more certain. Uncertainty creates anxiety in other species, not just humans!
If you would like to understand how to be more effective and bold
when leading through uncertainty,
contact me on 07584 248822 to explore how I can help