Design Overview

Horse Sense Design Overview

The program is customized with input by clientL representatives to ensure that the content, experiential exercises and key learning areas are aligned with the development goals of the larger program.

The design and delivery of the program will include the following core elements:

  1. Learning Outcomes

We work with Planning group to create a custom transformative experiential learning program focussed on:

  • Transition from Leading Self to Leading others
  • How Leaders Connect and Inspire
  • The difference between Intent and Impact
  • How to build Trust, Respect and Open Communication
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Using Feed Forwards to build high performance teams
  • Build and sustain truly effective relationships
  • Expand on their understanding of the role of leadership, paying specific attention to the difference between leadership and management
  • Strengthen their community of support with other members of the OPS


  1. Experiential Learning Framework:

Our unique experiential learning programs go beyond most other experiential training programs by adding a third element: the horse. This partnership with another living entity provides a catalyst for leaders to discover how mindsets, behaviours, actions and communication styles impact others.

Horses are sentient beings with the capacity for independent thinking, social relationships, individual dispositions as well as physical abilities and limitations.  With horses – and with people mutually beneficial relationships can only be built when individuals understand and build a relationship based on trust and respect.’

Through the experience of creating a partnering relationship with these animals to complete specific tasks, leaders learn about self awareness, goal setting, overcoming fears, effective communication, and effective relationship building.


  1. Core Program Design:

The learning design will involve participants in a series of experiential learning exercises and debrief sessions that build one on another.  The core elements in the learning sequence include:


  • self-awareness of mindsets and blindspots
  • understanding of communication strengths and challenges
  • developmental feedback by linking patterns of leadership behaviour exhibited with the horse with similar patterns in the office

Skills Development

  • experiential exercises that encourage participants to explore and develop their skills at building effective relationships

Skills Application

  • experiential exercises that require participants to apply the skills related to leading themselves that were learned in module 1 and in the early exercises to leading others in the later exercises

Learning Reflection and Transfer

  • transfer of learning as participant’s internalize concepts and develop an action plan apply the knowledge to current challenges.


  1. Logistics

The Campbellville Leadership Centre has a private 25×30 heated meeting room with washroom and kitchen facilities and is fully handicap accessible.  The program is held in the attached covered indoor arena.

Interaction with horses will always be optional for participants.  If they chose participants may observe the interactive activities from the enclosed meeting room and then participate in debriefs and shared learning dialogues.

PDI, in consultation with Ministry representatives, will arrange for catering including breakfast, lunch, beverages and snack.

Horse Sense Sample Learning  Plan

The following learning plan describes the program approach, theoretical framework, methodology, activities and resources.  Customized plans will be developed in consultation with the program coordinator and design team.


Activity Introduction
Timeframe 8:30 – 9:00
Methodology Introduction of Program by Sharon

Creation of learning contract with participants

Key Learning Outcomes Clarified learning goals for participants.

Personal Responsibility Model

Set expectations for the day.


Experiential Exercise 1

Activity Experiential Activity

Relationship Building

Timeframe 9:30 to 10:00
Methodology Discuss prey vs. predator consciousness, body language, above the line communication, ladder of inference, assumptions, setting boundaries

Participants observe demo of interaction with a horse to begin building relationships as they

– create a safe environment

– listen for understanding

– appreciate differences

– manage emotions

Participants have the opportunity to meet and interact with horses under the supervision Participants practice listening skills and receive non-judgemental feedback.

Increased awareness of body language cues.

Participants learn to set clear boundaries without conflict .

Participants share learnings with the group

Theoretical Framework Intention vs Impact

Emotional Intelligence

Crucial Conversations


Key Learning Outcomes Listening and awareness of others

Sensitivity and empathy


Experiential Exercise 2

Activity Experiential Activity

Leading with Awareness

Location Arena with Horses
Timeframe 10:00 to 10:45
Methodology Facilitator demonstrates “awareness leading” of horses.

Facilitators and Safety Aides coach participants on receiving feedback and adjusting behaviour in order to provide clear direction, motivate,  and provide both “supportive” and “directive” leadership.

Pairs coach each other and share learnings

Theoretical Framework Intentions vs Impact              Emotional Intelligence

Crucial Conversations           Dialogue

Polarity Management            Accelerated Learning

Action Learning

  Communicating intent

Establishing clear boundaries

Balance between directive and supportive behaviours

Sending and receiving feedback

Coaching others for performance improvement



Activity Reflection on Leadership Accelerators: Leading Self
Location Meeting Room
Timeframe 10:45 – 11:30
Methodology Small to large group reflection

Participants share key learnings

Theoretical Framework Action Learning (Kolb)
Key Learning Outcomes Identify personal learning goal based on insights from first two exercises.



Experiential Exercise 3

Activity Experiential Activity

Individual Leadership Challenge

Timeframe 11:30 to 12:30
Methodology Lead Facilitator and one volunteer work with one horse in a 60×60 Round pen

Debrief difference between compliance and willingness

Coach participant to “join up” with horse by building relationship based on trust and respect

Debrief shift from management (with lead) to leadership (without) and the need for both types of relationships

Discuss nature of earning followership.

Theoretical Framework Leadership Challenge (Kounze and Posner)

Primal Leadership (Goleman)

Personal Mastery (Senge)

Key Learning Outcomes Difference between managing and leading

Moving from compliance to willingness

Developing trust based relationships

Impact of leadership style on others




Activity Reflection on Individual Leadership Challenge
Timeframe 1:00 – 1:30
Methodology Facilitator guides discussion to bring out common learnings and relates them to characteristics of effective leaders determined in first exercise
Theoretical Framework Action Learning (Kolb)
Key Learning Outcomes Participants to reflect, generalize, and apply new insights.

Individual commitment to personal learning goal to improve leadership by building relationships based on trust and respect.


Experiential Exercise 4

Activity Team Challenge
Timeframe 1:30 – 3:00 (in arena with horses)
Methodology Obstacle course

Facilitator debriefs using Team Learning Framework for debrief of Round two:

team learning, value of process focus, effective communication, moving from SME to big picture leader, sharing information, effective relationships

Team replans taking in consideration learning from previous rounds are plans “best practice” with focus on relationships, leadership at all levels, above the line communication


Theoretical Framework Polarity Analysis – Task/Process polarity

Appreciative Inquiry

Team Learning Framework (see page )

Key Learning Outcomes Encourage individual accountability and shared leadership

Use Relationship skills learning in morning activities with horse to improve relations with team members.

Learn to proactively respond to potential conflict situations

Move from reactive to proactive “big picture” leader



Activity Reflection on Team Challenge Forming the Herd and Awareness Leading
Timeframe 3:00 – 3:30 (in meeting room)
Methodology Participants share key learnings
Theoretical Framework Action Learning (Kolb)
Key Learning Outcomes Use of team relationship and communication skills Awareness of how participants operate within a team.

Clarify leadership role within team and with subordinates.

Awareness of intrapersonal strengths.

Identify key intrapersonal challenge or growth opportunity.


Learning Transfer/ Application

Activity Reflection
Timeframe 3:30 – 4:00 (in meeting room)
Methodology Facilitator leads final reflection to capture and share insights and learnings

Participants identify highest priority Leadership Development Commitments.

Theoretical Framework  
Key Learning Outcomes Personal development plan



Activity Closing Remarks, Feedback forms
Timeframe 4:00 – 4:315 (in meeting room)
Methodology Facilitator: Closing Remarks, summary of day.

Ministry Representative: Closing remarks

Participants complete Feedback forms

Theoretical Framework  
Key Learning Outcomes Personal development plan
Resources Feedback forms (clients – or ours – on line)