Businesses get hands on with horses to improve leadership skills
26th April 2016
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Former businesswoman Sue Blagburn offers equine facilitated learning that has been proven to help develop skills such as leadership qualities, self-esteem, team-ship, assertiveness and self-awareness. The workshops and sessions are also proving beneficial for a wide range of educational needs and learning difficulties such as autism/ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, sensory processing disorders and other social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. The success of the organisational workshops allows Sue to offer subsised sessions for children and young adults enabling business to also fulfil their corporate social responsibility initiatives.


Explaining why working with horses helps a wide spectrum of people Sue said: “As non-predators, horses by their very nature respond best to people who demonstrate self mastery, emotional intelligence and directional intent based on building rapport, rather than dominance and force. So they are happy for us to step up into the leadership role as long as we demonstrate that we are leaders worth following. Since horses respond in the moment, they offer us clear and honest feedback about our current strengths and shortcomings as leaders. A simple leading exercise may result in a horse moving enthusiastically for one leader, and refusing to budge for the next. The difference is in the person’s sense of him/herself as a leader in that situation.

“This is a powerful way to develop team building and leadership techniques and for those with learning difficulties as the horses act as mirrors to the feelings and emotions we experience in our everyday work-life.”


A successful business entrepreneur and horsewoman, Sue ran a marketing and design business in 1991 having worked previously as a horse riding teacher and training young horses.  “I found the skills I needed to become a leader of horses and a ‘herd’ manager were transferable back into the everyday chaos and plate spinning of running a business,” she explained adding, “Over time it became clear to me that I wanted to offer what horses had naturally taught me, to other business people, organisations and entrepreneurs - from organisations and charities employing over 4,000 staff, small businesses employing less than 200 staff to one man bands.”


After selling her business in Dorset, Sue moved to Devon four years ago and now lives in an idyllic setting near Holne where Adventures with Horses is based. She has four horses with whom participants work, and a network of qualified facilitators including herself.


Sue’s work with organisations enables her to subsidise a programme for children and young people that helps increase self-esteem, reduce problem behaviours, improve relationships and create better awareness of boundaries.


“In some cases just being around horses in a safe space held by experienced facilitators is enough. Mostly participants will be encouraged to adventure with the horses, learning about the horses in order to learn about themselves, whilst doing specific tasks, in order to improve, for example, paying attention, perseverance, empathy, expectations and coping strategies- all skills they can take back and work with in their every day lives,” she said.


Sue will be attending this Thursday’s Devon Business Expo where she will be offering taster sessions for businesses to experience adventures with horses.


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