Bringing Leadership Lessons to Life

World Class Leadership Development an hour west of Toronto

 Would you like to get more Impact from your Leadership and Team programs?

Far too often people return from an offsite, a training program, even a MBA with exactly the same style of leadership they had when they started.  They may intend to do things differently but then fall back onto past patterns.   This is one of the main reasons some people are skeptical about the benefits of Leader and Team development.

Change is not easy – changing something as significant as the way we interact with others starts by first uncovering deep “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs and then asking the question – “what if I operated in a different way” and then trying the new behaviour to discover what impact that can have.  

For most Leaders that learning loop takes years, for others it just never happens.   Many leaders are completely unaware that the way they think of themselves and the way others experience them is not the same.  Senior leaders rarely get the kind of feedback that would be needed for change – so for them its even harder.

If I had a book that was proven to solve this problem it would be a best seller.

If I had an assessment or 360 that resulted in Leaders truly understanding how the impact of their actions is very different from their intentions it would be a hit.

If I had a simulation that had created lasting behavioural change in over 90% of participants companies would be banging down our doors.

But if I tell you that a very carefully crafted program with a 15 year old track record of success that involves the instinctive response of naturalized horses can produce significant lasting behavioural change in not only new leaders but senior executives would you believe me?

Honestly the first time it happened I was pretty shocked too.

We had a long term client who said they were looking for something different – could we work with Leaders without slide decks and a classroom?  My side business is training horses and I’d been studying a new way of horse leadership that nicely paralleled our corporate programs. I would demonstrate the difference between old type horse training and new and focus on asking instead of telling, earning trust and respect, empathy, deep listening, setting boundaries, positive reinforcement and avoiding control, compliance and coercion.  I figured it would be more interesting that marshmallow towers.  

The difference was mind blowing. People began to make linkages that I only dreamed of getting with traditional training. The horses responded instantly to whether they perceived a leader as a predator or a herd member and then changed again each time the leaders ability to earn trust and respect changed.

They couldn’t just understand the importance of a leadership skill – they had to act on it.

They couldn’t just keep repeating behaviour that didn’t work – they had to change it.

With a small bit of knowledge, a bit of coaching and a lot of listening suddenly this group of Leaders, some of whom were afraid of horses, were achieving results that many horse people never achieve.  

Imagine going from never meeting a horse in your life to having one follow you around with no ropes simply because they choose to be with you. Isn’t that what leadership is about? Not convincing someone to do something but engaging them so they choose to work with you to achieve a goal?


Our facilitators are experts at breaking down leadership characteristics into actionable tasks.

If you want to lead a horse and you simply pull the leadrope.  This is the way most horses (and many people) are led – why?  because it works – it is a quick way to get from A to B.  The problem is no one likes being pulled – the best result you get is compliance, but often you end up with resistance.  In a horse that means you have to pull a little harder each time – and eventually the horse starts pulling back.

We ask leaders how they would like to be motivated and then translate that into specific actions they can use with a horse.

Lead by example (step forward), ask (enough pressure the horse feels the lead but not enough to pull) and wait for feedback (3 seconds) to see if the horse will respond with “yes” (following) or “not yet” (not following).

The coach with them watches to see what happens.  Do they pull (directive/controlling), do you they back and pet the horse (rewarding behaviour you don’t want), suggest a carrot (bribe) or just give up.  

Each Leader works one on with with a horse and a coach who will ask them to shift focus from the horse to their own actions – are they blocking the horse? (some people are actually standing in front of the horse…), did they quit too soon so the horse feel moving is important?, did they lead by example (looking at the goal) or not (looking at the horse), have they indicated commitment to the new direction? (raising your energy), have they made it simpler to take a step forward (small redirect)? are they persistent? did they send positive feedback (when the horse started to move did the leader reward or keep pulling?).

Whats fascinating is how quickly people make the link from what happens with the horses to what happens at work.  One director shared that a participant had great potential but had been stalled on her path to becoming a Director because her teams struggled with a lack of direction.  She was brilliant and truly wanted to do the best by her people but they were often left confused about priorities and direction.   When her turn came to lead the horse the two of them walked calmly together straight into a wall.  Instead of looking where she wanted to go she spend the entire time looking back at the horse.  As we debriefed she realized that was exactly the same thing she was doing with her team – she unintentionally downplayed vision for fear of being too bossy.  We talked about how she provided both support and direction to the horse – that it wasn’t a choice and she went back and made a change.  Her team was thrilled and she became a Director 4 months later.  

When a horse goes from disengaged to engaged you know it –  this huge creature suddenly turns towards you and looks to your for leadership because you’ve earned it.  Its a feeling no one ever forgets.  I’ve met clients who had the experience 10 years ago and who still call it a turning point in their career.


Our customers – leaders and learning professionals tell us that the biggest change they get after a program is their leaders are willing to try out new behaviours – to understand that even with good intentions their actions may be working against them. They have a new non judgemental way to describe impact and a new way of giving and receiving feedback.

We’re really proud of this program It is unique – there may be other learning programs with horses but this is one we designed and honed over 15 years and it always gets great reviews. It will be a highlight of any leadership program or event.

We have three basic programs:

An experience that will give leaders the opportunity to  discover what happens when they listen more deeply, delegate more effectively, establish firmer boundaries, coach more, give and receive feedback effectively and build stronger relationships.

LeaderSense is the highest rated module in several In House Leadership programs  Typically the experience fits about a third of the way through, after the group has had assessments and a good amount of theory but before they start projects.  You give them the content and we will bring it to life.

TeamSense is a great way to start up or develop high priority teams  Imagine how much faster you can move to results if the group has already discovered how to work and communicate well together.  We have specific versions for New teams, Cross functional teams, Sales Teams or Teams in Trouble.

Execusense is a perfect fit for Senior Leaders and their teams.  Those who have “been there and done that” get feedback that will surprise them.  The most senior leaders benefit from taking a fresh look at how their leadership style impacts others.

We measure success on how the program changes behaviour.  Over and over I am told that it was the single most impactful development day they have ever had – no one ever says that about one of my slide decks, not matter how good they are.  Years after their “day with the horses” participants remember exactly what they learned and the impact it had.  

Lesson One – Giving and Receiving Helpful Feedback

Whether you are a new leader, a senior executive or a high performance team one of the most important skills you can master is giving and receiving helpful feedback.  All of our horse sense programs begin with a key lesson on receiving feedback.  Its an experience that cannot be simulated.  A horse has no facade and doesn’t care what’s on your business card. They will give clear honest feedback and almost everyone will miss it, despite being given all the communication tools they need.

Forbes Article by Joe Folkman on the Importance of Honest Feedback

Forbes Article by Joe Folkman on the Importance of Honest Feedback

Open Article

Open Article Test

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The lessons go far beyond simply interacting with horses.  Leaders learn about mindsets, the ladder of inference, assumptions, non verbal feedback, instinct and understanding that impact is about how a message is received not how it is intended.   Leaders learn the difference between observation and interpretation.  They learn how dangerous dividing actions into “success” and “failure” can be and how building trust and respect happens with every action every day.

Our programs are based on 15 years of experiences with thousands of leaders and are custom designed for each client.    Your facilitators are senior management consultants with a track record of success.

The best way to understand how this works is to experience it yourself.  


I would like to learn more:



Curious about whether the program would be a fit you?  – Take a look at Who We Work With section

Wondering why senior leaders tell us the day with horses was the best leadership experience of their career then go straight to Why Horses?

The Bottom Line.

Its a Once in a Lifetime Experience

And it works

Horse Sense -  Julia crop

Executives appreciate getting a new perspective on their Leadership though unfiltered feedback.

“I have to tell you that having done my fair share of leadership training over the years – there is sometimes a touch of cynicism approaching leadership training sessions. I’ve been around a while, and seen a lot.

The Horse Sense program was exceptional! The team building and understanding within the day’s program was really the best I have encountered and the self-learning was outstanding. I am a convert who not only looks forward to the next session – but can hardly wait to see what new learning and understandings result from it.

Thank you for a great leadership experience absolutely laced with immediately useful strategies as well as plenty of fodder (bit of a pun on the horses there!) for reflection and future growth.


Intact Teams (Sales, Operational, Project,…) learn new ways to communicate with each other, increase alignment and resolve ongoing issues.

“In the team exercise, we learned which members of the team were better communicators, and who tended to suffer in silence. One person was having trouble keeping up with the rest of the team, but didn’t say anything and we realized how we sometimes discouraged people from communicating.

Our team as a whole had a real breakthrough at this program. We’re a much better team now. There is more communications, “more checking in with each other, more understanding of different people’s styles”

“I think we have come along way with identifying how we can work better as team and improve on communications. I found it amazing the difference from when we arrived Tuesday morning to when we left Wednesday evening, what a huge difference. I think your program is just what we needed”


Leadership Development programs get better results faster as core concepts come to life..

We benchmark different things at the company, and we’ve seen many of our scores improve since working with Sharon. There’s a whole range of leadership behaviours that we track and all of us have seen our scores go up. The Horse Sense program is definitely a big part of that

After doing the program? I noticed such a heightened sensitivity towards others based on increased self-insight and awareness, enhanced self confidence, greater collaboration and teamwork. You need to experience it for yourself to appreciate the full impact

MTO Team

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