Team Building with Horses

Team Building with Horses

IMG_5661-2The success of a team, a company or any other group pursuing a common goal is based on how well they can work together. Working well together entails having a common purpose or vision, healthy chemistry, assigning roles to each member and complementing each other to the benefit of the whole. Everyone must be in the role that suits him/her best and allows every team member to live up to his/her full potential. There will be leaders and followers, or leaders who switch into followers if necessary and the other way around.

When a team is not performing successfully, there are often disturbances that must be identified before the team can be put back on the path of success. A team is only as strong as its leader, but also a leader can only be as strong as the team. Building and maintaining a powerful team are like going on a journey together. Everyone shares the idea about the same destination, the motivation to overcome possible hardships, the knowledge to survive and the enjoyment in being part of the group.

The Course
In nature, horses live in a herd with a lead mare and a lead stallion. The lead mare shows the herd the way, while the lead stallion makes sure the path is safe and there are no threats nearby. There is a significant similarity between horses and humans when it comes to forming a herd (group). Therefore, horses can help us learn about forming successful teams.

Horses sense the energy of our (human) team and they decide if this team feels safe enough to hang on to.When staying on the ground and learning with horses, everyone becomes fairly equal, especially when faced with a challenge. Sometimes the outcome can be surprising and influence the assignment of roles. For example, the leader of the group might turn into a follower while one of the followers takes over the leadership position.

Horses don’t differentiate on the basis of job titles and instead make their choices based on natural senses. This can be a challenge for the participants, but working and learning with horses enables the participants to understand the basic concept of:

Team-building with horses explores:

Goal setting: What is the common goal? Is everyone on board with it? Does everyone share a common vision. What can everyone contribute?

Role assignment: Is every team member challenged? Who is the leader, who is the follower? Is there undiscovered potential? Can there be new roles and responsibilities.

Flexibility: Meeting others where they are; being clear about what is fixed and what is open to change; willing to give up expectations and adapt to new and different circumstances.


Communication: Mostly nonverbal, listening in between the lines. Authentic connections. Enhanced active listening skills. Giving and receiving grounded assessments. Making offers and requests as well as keeping promises and giving and receiving reports.

Trust: Giving team members the opportunity to communicate openly in a natural and neutral, non-judgmental environment helps team members re-connect and re-align with the team’s purpose while supporting team members’ individual goals and development.

Working with horses supports the team to re-connect and ‘spice up the relationship’. The various innovative activities of the horse-facilitated coaching programs are designed to help build and bond teams, engage people in different ways and focus on different areas.

Every team-building workshop with horses will be customized to the needs and goals of the team. After the working segments with the horses, there are reflective thinking sessions and debriefings.

The day’s work ends with a summary period for final self-evaluation and group learning with horses facilitated by Hertha.

Customized company horse retreats and development programs can last for a full day, or 2 days. Contact us to discuss desired outcomes or make a reservation for your group or individual needs. We will send you a non-binding cost estimate and an outline for a course designed to meet your own needs and the needs of your company.

No horse experience is required. No horse-riding is involved. All exercises are ground work only and are held at Hertha’s ranch on the Central Coast of CA, near Paso Robles and Lake Nacimiento (halfway between San Francisco, CA and Los Angeles, CA).

Hertha Wolff-Arend, Coaching with Horses | 805.234.6454 | | Paso Robles, CA