The Value of Passive Leadership

Last Saturday I spent the whole day at the farm. I started by spending some undemanding time in the pasture with Culo. I am finding that this time is well invested time. I have noticed a significant improvement during our sessions on the days I have taken time to do this. So during this time Saturday, I made an observation that really had me licking and chewing. His buddy Titus is the alpha of their herd of two, but I noticed that when I was in the pasture awhile, Culo would eventually choose to be where I was rather than follow Titus around. Wherever I chose to sit, Culo would eventually work his way toward me – always keeping tabs on Titus’ whereabouts, but choosing to stay with me. It reminded me of something I read in a book by Mark Rashid called “Horses Never Lie” which talked about a different horse as one to emulate than the alpha:

“The horse we tried to be most like was a horse with a completely different temperament and role within the herd – a horse that leads by example, not force. A horse that is extremely dependable and confident, one that the vast majority of horses will not only willingly choose to follow, but that they actually seek out. The title I came up with was “passive leader.” I chose that title because the horse in question wasn’t one that would force its way into the leadership role. The leadership role was chosen by members of the herd as the one they wanted to follow. The leadership was bestowed on the horse in a passive way. In other words, it wasn’t necessarily looking to be a leader but didn’t turn the role down once it had been chosen. The title actually refers to the way the horse is chosen for the role, not to what it does once it’s “appointed.”The question then is, how do we get our horses to want to choose us as a leader? It has been my observation that before a horse (or person) can even be considered as a passive leader, it must first exhibit the qualities that make it desirable for it to be chosen. Those qualities are quiet confidence, dependability, consistency, and a willingness not to use force.”

How interesting! The subject has certainly got me thinking that’s for sure! So after making these observations for awhile, Culo and I headed over to the arena to play for a bit. And then we went for a very enjoyable 14 mile trail ride in neighboring state park! He is so awesome on trails!

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