The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 10:40 am 
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Romy wrote:
There just isn't that much evidence for such an active/passive way conversing, at least not as far as I know. Instead, conversation can be regarded as a genuinely cooperative act with interdependent participants instead of a leader/follower distinction.
I´d like to hear more about that topic, if you have time for it someday. Isn´t this actually your field of work? Very interesting stuff?
I don´t see the schisma as strict as the words "leader" & "follower" would suggest. At least not in the way that the follower is a passive subject. More like a sender/recipient pair in any communication. Or is this kind of classification also not actual anymore? I´m working on some quite basic understanding of communication science here ;).

EDIT: That´s not fair! Editing your message after I read it :green: Thanks for the link, that´s just what I wanted. Now I just need the time to read this...

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:43 pm 
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Romy wrote:
I didn't understand that leading was discussed as morally problematic here - not in the way you define it anyway. Just that we maybe don't completely agree whether this...

Houyhnhnm wrote:
And like in a conversation there will always be one leading a topic and the other following. Sometimes one is listening for a longer period of time, just following. Sometimes the lead changes every five seconds.


...really is the way natural communication usually works. There just isn't that much evidence for such an active/passive way conversing, at least not as far as I know. Instead, conversation can be regarded as a genuinely cooperative act with interdependent participants instead of a leader/follower distinction.

If someone wants to read a very short article about verbal dialogue as a joint activity, I suggest this one by Garrod and Pickering (2004):
Why is conversation so easy?

But then again, like everything else this is not an absolute truth but probably depends on the situation and the way we define all these concepts. :smile:


And then I often perceive that it is the listener who can be the leading party... as it can take much more internal balance and strenght to be one listening, really listening, then the one talking or blabbing maybe even ;)

I do not mean to get you all mixed up, I am sorry if I am volker. But being a leader is just not a concreet subject where you can check down a checklist and say; ah, here we have an absolute leader. For when the setting changes, all can be different again.
And even leaders, or better yet, a true leader, acknowledges that he can be mistaken, does not know everything... bu what makes him a leader, is the fact that he knows who to ask for advice and can put advice to practise to benefit those who entrusted themselves to him.

Is a horse elected as alpha, but does he not want the job? Yes he is a leader, but only for as long as the better equiped one comes a long.
Leaders often just have a vison to make things happen and act accordingly. Others will tend to perceive that vision as something they want to be part off and then they tend to follow. Leaders always are themselves, they are constantly scrutinising their talents and limits, pushing them further. They want to know their shortcomings and find those who can fill those up.These visionairs seek the truth in order to get closer to their vision, therefore they take absolute responsibility for their actions. This is what will benefit others and will make them follow this leader and act after his example without having to be some one else.

Dictators only have a vision of being an absolute leader, with having to take no responsibility whatsoever, ever again. Dictators do not want to find the limits of their talents and skills. They do not want to be corrected or reprimanded, even if they know they did wrong. They fear finding their shortcomings, they fear everyone who mights show it to them in any way. Most of all, thus, they fear themselves. Absolute power helps you to be the person your not. It helps you to build an image of perfection for yourself. Problems that will arise for the followers will be 'overcome' by faulting others and have them punished. But this will not benefit the followers in the long run, on the contrary. So followers will get away from this self proclaimed leader, as soon as they can, purely from self protection. As soon, in fact, as the fence of whatever material (wood, guns, barb wire), has broken down so it can not contain them any more.
A perfect example would be Adolf Hitler, now that you mention him ;)

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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 12:25 am 

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Hoorah, my computer is working again. Oh no, so much fabulous thoughtful writing to catch up with!
Only read page 1.
I think I was a better trainer 30 years ago. I had goals and was motivated, my head was clear and my intention was clear for my horse. I knew what I wanted to reward. I was as Gwen Santagate suggests "capable of moving the feet".
Now I spend as much time administering hugs, kisses, scratches and less time rewarding athletic ability. I am no longer aiming at competitive team chasing, jumping or racing. My horses do not need the level of fitness or endurance length hacks that my old horses benefited from.
Daniel does like to have his own way. He can object to a halter, he allows me to be passenger, but with no tack in open acreage, I am no threat to his choices of pace, direction or grazing.
Arthur actually prefers to be directed, he seems more secure, some how looks proud when longlining. He works better for my more traditional friend Sharon, who "tells" him what is required, than my "asking" if he would mind.
Most children know that their parents are benign. Good manners, structured mealtimes, homeworks, bedtimes, boundaries which relax with growth, training and ability to take on responsibility, yet with rules and respect.... probably happier individuals than those left to decide whether to eat with their family or in their room while playing an online game, or who choose which essays to write, or who are ignored by a parent too busy with a new partner to include the child in any meaningful way.
If my horses are to be ridden, then I must be in charge and assured of their compliance through lunging, schooling and training to ensure the safety of other road users and the horses. Otherwise they will be confined to just their own pasture and lack the stimulus that wild horses gain through travel and exploration of wider areas.
I love the input to this site, how daunting a few weeks computer down time can be, but thanks, fascinating reading, I need time to catch up. xx

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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 1:34 am 

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http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic ... #post61769
Gwenyth Santagate posted this quote:
"The boss drives people; the leader coaches them.
The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will.
The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.
The boss says I; The leader says WE.
The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.
The boss says, "GO"; the leader says "Lets GO!"
" ~H. Gordon Selfridge

Which are YOU to your horse? Boss or Leader?

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 1:23 am 
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Volker -- re: conversations w/out leaders, I would highly recommend Bill Isaacs book, "Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together"

In it, he talks about true dialogue as being a "conversation with a center but no sides."

Fascinating reading. You'd probably like David Bohm's work, too. Here's a little taste: http://www.david-bohm.net/dialogue/experiment.html

I'm finding this conversation especially fascinating because after a long shut down winter for all of us, I hit a serious wall in my dialogue capabilities and beliefs with my horses today -- some of which was about our failings to communicate and some of which are about my fears (which are not without validity -- for me or for them).

At this precise moment, the thought that is burbling up to the surface for me is that a good, successful interaction is one that leaves everyone involved, both human and equine, happy and feeling empowered as we walk away from each other.

Simple idea but not so simple to actualize, I think. At least not all the time.

...And three other thoughts to toss into the mix -- not sure if they're helpful or not, but they're cooking:

• First, I think our perceptions about leadership are hugely shaped by our life experiences with what has been defined for us as leadership -- within our families, our communities, our work, our schooling, etc.
• Second, as I'm coming to a place in my life and psyche where I'm stepping into leadership roles with more confidence, I find that I both love to be leader and I also, very clearly, have moments where I want to be led. Both can be positive experiences -- empowering, reassuring, and relaxing. I don't think I would have felt this even five years ago.
• Third, along those lines -- I current am tasked with providing leadership with a staff of three in my job, I find that I am most rewarded when I've helped to challenge them to find their own authority (self-authoring) -- we are all at our best when I've helped them to see beyond what they think they're capable of and help find ways to challenge them to go after that. To me, this is real leadership -- and everyone walks away from the interaction feeling happy and empowered.

Right now I'm struggling to find this sense of leadership with my horses. I will find it again, but we are winging about in a fairly chaotic anarchy at the moment and I don't think any of us like it very much!

Hugs to you all.

(And Volker, have I told you how truly thrilled I am that you've brought your brilliance to AND? You are such a wonderful addition to this conversation; thank you!)

All the best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 3:27 am 
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You are such a wonderful addition to this conversation


A wonderful addition to the entire forum :yes: :yes: :yes: ! A touch of brilliance and a lovely energy. A big thank you for finding your way here! :kiss: :f: :applause:

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 5:43 am 
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8) I've been reading avidly when I get time without responding. I love this conversation - it clarifies a lot of fluffy thinking which is something I am constantly guilty of. So a big fat thank-you to all of you for that.

Here's my two-cents-worth on the subject of leadership:
There are as many different definitions of leadership as there are thinkers in this world. I found this very confusing. I did not trust myself to navigate those waters with any integrity because I get caught up in "What did you achieve today? What do you have to show as a productive result from today?" type of thinking and it messes with my desire to not push or force my horses.

I found I could side-step the entire issue by deciding two things:

1. I was not training my horses, or teaching them. Also they were not teaching me. I decided to acknowledge that my horses already know how to balance, turn, rear, kneel, stretch, etc. and I already know how to move with that and not interfere with their fluidity. I have a small quiet voice inside me that tells me when I am about to cross the barrier between treating them with respect and becoming overbearing and bossy and unpleasant.

2. I decided that my horses and I are on a quest to develop a language. We are exploring syntax and sentence structure. We are making our own version of Esperanto. This is what we do. We do not train. We do not lead or follow. We do not practice dressage or show jumping or any discipline - equine or human. We are researchers and pioneers. We engineer communications.

;) :D
This took all the ethical, moral and existential angst out of my interactions with my horses. It made us free to do what I had been trying to do all along - create a warm and trusting relationship that was expressed through harmonious physical action.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 9:53 am 
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wow, Glen, that is brilliant!! :applause:

Nice to read you again!
:kiss:

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 1:21 pm 
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Oh, my, yes, Glen! Beautiful! I'm going to steal it and copy it to my diary so I can find it.

And yes, alongside Karen -- I meant "conversation" in terms of the whole forum, Volker, not just this particular thread!

It's funny -- I've been out of AND mode for the last few months, busy with other things, caught in my head.

And I come back and read these conversations and realize how dear you all are to me and how much you push my thinking forward and how much the group invests in holding and healing each others' hearts.

Thanks.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 8:10 pm 
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Glen Grobler wrote:
I found I could side-step the entire issue by deciding two things:

1. I was not training my horses, or teaching them. Also they were not teaching me. I decided to acknowledge that my horses already know how to balance, turn, rear, kneel, stretch, etc. and I already know how to move with that and not interfere with their fluidity. I have a small quiet voice inside me that tells me when I am about to cross the barrier between treating them with respect and becoming overbearing and bossy and unpleasant.

2. I decided that my horses and I are on a quest to develop a language. We are exploring syntax and sentence structure. We are making our own version of Esperanto. This is what we do. We do not train. We do not lead or follow. We do not practice dressage or show jumping or any discipline - equine or human. We are researchers and pioneers. We engineer communications.

;) :D
This took all the ethical, moral and existential angst out of my interactions with my horses. It made us free to do what I had been trying to do all along - create a warm and trusting relationship that was expressed through harmonious physical action.



That is a lovely way of putting it Glen!!!

I have always loved working with a clicker because it makes happy horses or at least my horses are happy with it. Then along came Gman (Gaucho) and nothing seemed to make him happy. He was the horse who took me on an incredible journey one that I am still travelling and made me question everything about my relationship with horses.

Gman a Spanish stallion who spent his early years with me working through anger and aggression, geld him, dominate him show him who is boss was the advice I recieved. Yes my beauty I thought when I looked at him if I try to dominate you will either kill me or give up and die so what are we to do.

For the past year I have absorbed everything I can about how horses learn and I am fortunate to recieve the help along with others from the Zenhorsemanship Research Team of Dr R from North Texas University. Dr R along with Dr Kellie Snyder is the pioneer of CAT-H a method developed to help aggressive and fearful horses. Dr R also lectures at Clicker Expo and his talk about behaviour chains and cues is fascinating. What does this have to do with leadership ? I think horses do what works for them like us they want to be happy and feel safe.

Dr R has watched several videos of Gman and asked me to conduct a simple experiment and from this he was able to explain so much. Gman is very intelligent and observes my body language he picks up on subtle cues that I do not realise that I am giving this does cause problems . I am intelligent but I often think he is light years ahead of me he is also a horse who likes to be in control. When I say in control I do not mean control over me but control about what he does, it would be impossible to manipulate him he smells manipulation a mile away.

So like Glen says it is about communication because Gman only works with me because he wants to not because he has to. I know more about the world we live in so he is happy to follow my lead but he knows more of other things and then I follow his lead.

After meeting him it would be impossible for me to view the world of horses as I once did, I think I begin to understand the spiritual relationship that is talked about with the Iberian horse. A relationship that we all perhaps seek that of an equal partnership built on mutual trust and respect.

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 9:45 am 
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Gman = Don Jamie

Lately I have been having trouble with J again... Shall write about it later.

The thing where traumatic horses need control over themselves; that is the key point of my courses at my academy concerning traumatic horses. It is a very strong point

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:36 pm 
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Romy wrote:
If someone wants to read a very short article about verbal dialogue as a joint activity, I suggest this one by Garrod and Pickering (2004):
Why is conversation so easy?
That is one excellent article! Thank you Romy! If you have more to suggest along those lines, I´d be happy :yes:.
I can really recommend that article, not only because it´s very thought provoking on the topic of dialogue, but it also shows - once again - why a relationship built on trust enables a much more effective type of interaction. It explained for me a whole lot of things about the horse-human communication. The term they use in the article is "interactive alignment". (And BTW it also explains why some people - like me - find it easier to think when engaged in a discussion)
Quote:
We argue that alignment is also conditional to the extent that it can be inhibited when it conflicts with current goals and purposes, or promoted when it supports those goals. Behavioural mimicry is conditional in this way (e.g. people mimic other’s incidental movements or gestures more when they intend to establish a rapport with the other person.)
I know this drifts off to the off-topic side (maybe we can spawn another discussion with that someday...), but it´s not really contradictory to my thoughts about leadership. Or so I believe at least ;). It´s definitely a very good addition to it.

Karen wrote:
Quote:
You are such a wonderful addition to this conversation

A wonderful addition to the entire forum :yes: :yes: :yes: ! A touch of brilliance and a lovely energy. A big thank you for finding your way here! :kiss: :f: :applause:
You seriously make me blush in front my computer screen. :blush: Thank you Leigh and Karen, that´s a very nice thing to say :kiss:. I do appreciate very much all the input from all of you on this forum. It´s in fact comparable to the good vibes you can draw from the interaction with horses. I think it´s the unconditional appreciation of all people who strive to extend their knowledge about horses and therefore themselves.

Now back on topic: I´m still trying to sort all those threads that came loose and now mess up my brain since we started this leadership discussion :roll:.
I found myself backpedaling a bit since I read the article Romy mentioned. I think I mixed up several things. One is the way one communicates with the horse on a day to day basis. That´s what Glen referred to as "quest to develop a language".
One can apply concepts like "leadership", "dominance" and lots of others here as means to communicate and train. And of course those concepts can appear in any of the multitude of shapes that we have already discussed.
But certainly one does NOT need any of those concepts just to communicate effectively with the horse. In fact, as the before mentioned article shows, it may even prove counterproductive to apply "leadership" on a daily basis, because the freedom of interaction might get lost. I say "might", because I can imagine that some individuals may even like to have a leader in some communication situations.

The question remains for me, whether we need leadership at all and when it maybe useful to employ it.
I totally agree with Leigh when she says:
Quote:
I think our perceptions about leadership are hugely shaped by our life experiences with what has been defined for us as leadership
I´m sure that the way I interact with Mucki is strongly defined by my social background, my parents and my peers. Furthermore I´m afraid that I do employ leadership, even bossiness, sometimes out of a feeling of superiority over Mucki. I know this is not ANDly at all, but I have yet to install a kind of intellectual filter of some instincts in me.
One instinct is the feeling of being oh so intelligent that I simply know better than an animal. (As if we humans were not animals, pfff!)
A second one is the feeling that I´m educating a child when working with Mucki. (That may even be justified at times ;))
It´s easily possible that there are many more instincts I´m not even aware of.
These incidents of "leadership" can probably be discarded as "bossiness", as true leaders are mostly elected and cannot impose their will upon the followers.

So far I have filtered out two situations for me where leadership may be useful or even advisable:
1.) Young horses.
That´s a hard one, because I guess there are a ton of really good concepts of teaching children without need of a leader. Also, especially with children it´s a thin line between leading and dictating...
2.) Situations where I pull the horse out of their safe context and have them to "play along with man-made rules". E.g. leading in possibly dangerous terrain like in traffic, interacting with children, leading or riding in groups of unfamiliar horses without time to get them acquainted.
In such situations I think oneself has to act as some kind of "human governor" of the rules that were set by our society. Whether we like those rules or not, we have to execute them. Of course we could ignore them as well and rather go by horse rules, but that would set us on collision course with everything ranging from an angry neighbour defending his rose garden to a heavy lorry coming our way at full speed, boldly claiming the road for himself.
Of course that does not mean that I have to be pushing, controlling every step of the way outside the premises. I´d rather see it as a kind of protection for the following horse. On an interesting side note: in nature every herd has horses that fulfill a so called "inspector" role. In unknown, potentially dangerous situations they would lead and the others would follow. Those inspectors are usually of the lower ranks, but bold and nosy ;). So if you don´t want to see yourself as a leader, you can see yourself as an inspector (or cannon fodder really :D)

For such situations I like to have a clear and already tested version of leadership at the ready that I can safely employ with my horse. That such a leadership does not have to be in conflict with concepts like AND was the purpose of some of my earlier posts.

I know very well the dilemma that all the talk about leadership can put you in. As Glen describes so fittingly:
Glen Grobler wrote:
This took all the ethical, moral and existential angst out of my interactions with my horses. It made us free to do what I had been trying to do all along - create a warm and trusting relationship that was expressed through harmonious physical action.
I have experienced this angst as a conflict between an internal need for trust and partnership and an externally induced need for having control over my horse. A long time I have lived in the misconception of this being two sides divided by an impassable gap. Now I believe that ONLY a trusting relationship and good reciprocal communication can lead to a kind of possible leadership that one can use in some situations to retain what we like to call "control". In fact that kind of "control" is nothing else than a friendly bond.

Leigh wrote:
Volker -- re: conversations w/out leaders, I would highly recommend Bill Isaacs book, "Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together"
Thanks Leigh! I really appreciate literature recommendations :l:. If someone has some good tip about leadership? Josepha maybe? Because the vast amount of books on that topic is intimidating me :sad:.

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:49 pm 
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Well since this is picking up I figured I'd throw in my 2 cents... as I've been reading, but confused often by all the posts.

Like a few others I think a previous life history and language/definition barriers play a big part in some of the differing views.


Leader?... sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not. Sometimes Diego is, sometimes he's not. I can't say it's 50/50, but it's better than it ever has been.

The word to me can mean many things, but it's the person's intention who is speaking the term 'leader" or "leadership" to me that is important. The intent of the human, the definition the human feels... not the word itself. I throughly agree with Liegh as well that a huge portion of how we feel about the word comes from our life experience and what we were taught, saw, grew up thinking etc. I feel with certainty though, I'm uncomfortable with an existence that doesn't involve some leading and following from time to time, no matter who's doing it. I think as a individual I'd feel lost if someone else didn't take the initiative at times, instead of me. o_O

My mother and I have had several indepth conversations recently about her life (long story) and I got a chance to watch her again and grasp her intent when she uses various terms. "Leader" is a big one with her. She is very strong willed, afraid (thus controlling), ridgid, and obsessive about knowledge, the more knowledge she has, the more power, control over a situation. Her version of leadership is something I want no part of... yet she comes across as a leader to many people (modern society's version) she feels that she is a leader - naturally, by her personality. I tend to think she's just bossy. :roll: On the opposite side of the coin, D's chiropractor, a small quiet, contemplative woman who cares more about animals than almost anyone I've ever met - is a leader as well. Not in the sense of our society's idea of leaders though: she resembles much more of a guide. It's something you can feel when talking to her or standing with her.

Amigo is a perfect example of someone I see as a leader, :yes: whether by chosen place or simple personality. He's wise, quiet, contemplative, conserves energy... and yet personable and amiable to everyone in the herd. He takes care of them, guides them... even rude, pushy Diego. He shows vulnerability, worry, when they leave, and he shows displeasure when Diego or Gypsy get disrespectful. It's hard to describe in words what I see in him after watching for almost a year.

That I guess deals more with leader from a personality/predisposed position. I view it as two fold: personality/destiny OR situational...

It's situational alot of the time with Diego. And with other humans too...
I guess I define in that situation the leader as the one who is putting expending more initiative and effort to start a new direction during interaction, versus the one who joins in after or follows (not saying they are the same thing though). Sometimes for instance I'll say "Ok we need to go to the pasture now to stretch your legs D." He'll grudgingly oblige, or whatever... and then we'll get down there and he'll not only oblige but take over leadership of the task and go "Ok! We're here but let's not do this at the walk - let's GALLOP!" :ieks: LOL


I don't feel bad or have any problems when I say I'm a leader for Diego. But I realize now: that puts me in a VERY high and important position with a METRIC TON of responsibility. :sweat: Makes me break out in a nervous sweat actually, hoping I can measure up. It means I have to be fair, observant, articulate, caring and accepting beyond my normal everyday scope.
Oddly since starting this journey Diego is learning that too. (for anyone not knowing his history, he came from a very disgruntled, unsocialized background with little or no teaching from horse-peers) I see him sometimes take up a position of leadership - more with me than the other horses, and sometimes he will abuse it. Then he'll realize what he's done... other times I've seen him grow (positively) emotionally/mentally, under the load of accountability.


Glen I love that quote... pioneering. Something I need to remind myself of regularly. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:37 pm 
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Quote:
Thanks Leigh! I really appreciate literature recommendations . If someone has some good tip about leadership? Josepha maybe? Because the vast amount of books on that topic is intimidating me
.

A huge part of being a natural or authentic leader is the following: never make things difficult. The choices they make come from a clear intent of wanting to improve the situation for every one including themselves.

So, if you are governing an animal through man-made danger hazard environment; as long as you take the lead from a strong and clear purpuse of protecting that animal and keeping it safe and secure; that is what you shall emmitt, and that is the lead the animal will take, given that it had positive experiences with you in the past.

What you are doing now is the key: searching within your self where you justification for your need for leadership comes from.
Does it indeed come from thinking you simply know better for being a different specie? That could in the long run cause Mucki or other horses to start distrusting you because of your intent and the danger in over hearing advice coming from those you think you are somehow above.

They key for true leadership lies in the fact of constant questioning yourself, constant trying to better yourself and above all, never to view you as better then an other. A good leader sees additional quailities every where and wants to add them up.

Leadership, again, has nothing to do with being a caretaker (like for a horse) or a prison warden. This has to do with having power over other beings. That does not make any one a leader, but it will in any case make one show his true colours before long!

So clear intention is the answer to natural leadership. Always know what you do and why. Constantly search within yourself why you want things to go a certain way. What is the use? Is it for the horse's/child/employés well being? Is it for your ego, society? etc.
Making a child take piano lessons which he hates... for who's best interest is that?

Clear intent, leader, know thyself.

Don't just take it from me... 8)

Some quotes:

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
- Benjamin Disraeli

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.
- Theodore M. Hesburgh

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
- John F. Kennedy

Never try to teach a pig to sing: it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.
- Paul Dickson

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of succes; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
- Stephen R. Covey

The price of greatness is responsibility.
- Winston Churchill

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.
- General Colin Powell

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 Post subject: Re: Titum
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:37 pm 
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Location: Dresden, Germany
Houyhnhnm wrote:
That is one excellent article! Thank you Romy! If you have more to suggest along those lines, I´d be happy :yes:.


Glad that you liked the article. :)

At the moment I can think of two more that might be interesting for you, although they probably aren't as reader-friendly as the first one:

Knoblich et al. (2011): Psychological research on joint action: theory and data (You have to scroll down to "2011" and there it's the first article)

Shockley et al. (2009): Conversation and Coordinative Structures (At the moment it's the 8th one on this page)

Enjoy! 8)


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