Relationship and Connection – Horses Modeling the Way

Introduction from Alana:

AndiThis week, I am delighted to introduce to my new friend, Andi Burgis, a coach and entrepreneur with a very unique value proposition:  She engages horses to help her human clients to lead better, more fulfilling lives!

Andi’s company, CHALLENGE U, designs and facilitates experiential team development and leadership training programs intended to move people from learning to action.

Challenge UAndi along with her herd of horses, “office” on a 40-acre equine facility in Liberty, Missouri, where they work with organizations located across the country to help improve their effectiveness in leadership, teamwork, communication and life balance.

Here’s a guest post from Andi Burgis in which she shares how horses can help us become more effective in all that we do…


Guest Post from Andi Burgis, Owner, Founder + Facilitator, CHALLENGE U

I believe we can use horses as teachers for many things that help our human relationships. There are behaviors that are natural for horses that, if we adopt, can enhance our connection and communication within our human relationships.

Consider this: Humans are more than 90% non-verbal. Horses are 100% non-verbal or energetic in their communication. In their herd dynamic, horses always look out for the good of the whole herd, not just a single member. For the herd to be healthy and survive, each member plays a role and is connected to the herd as a whole. Do you have any takeaways from this horse behavior that might increase the joy in your own human relationships?

CHALLENGE U's Afirenella and 1-week old foal
CHALLENGE U’s Afirenella and 1-week old foal

Here’s another thought-provoking example: An interesting thing occurs when you go into a round pen with a horse to ask him to create a goal with you. If you are in your thinking brain (or your head), the horse acts as if you are invisible. Literally. See, connection is a heart-based energy. As soon as you drop into your body, the horse looks up and is a willing partner in whatever you want to do together.  True connection only occurs when we are in our body and our heart, not our head.

Finally, in order to be effective in a partnership with a horse, they ask us to be congruent (our inside energy matches our outside energy), to be connected (horses are relationship beings) and to be clear in our intent/communication. Most importantly, we must be willing to communicate on terms that are effective for the receiver of the communication as opposed to what we prefer.

Rather than being heart-based, I have always been more of an intellectually-oriented person. That is, until I got around the horses. I can now say I spend equal time between my head, my heart and my gut/intuition. This way of being has made me a more balanced person, brought a different joy to my life, and helps me be a more effective coach and teacher. More than anything, this head- heart- gut-embodied way of being allows me to make the best decisions, to be present and to connect to others, human and horse, in ways that have increased the quality of my life and my relationships.

Are there connections you are missing in your life? Are there opportunities for communication that you crave but can’t seem to make happen?

I have a suggestion. Let the horses model the way!

4 thoughts to “Relationship and Connection – Horses Modeling the Way”

  1. Whole-hearted agreement with Andi! And so glad to see you featuring her insights here, Alana. I’ve also learned a great deal about mutual respect and productivity from being a horse owner. The more I get to know Guy and Jetta and involve them in an idea or process, the more they own it and embrace it. The more respect and care I show them, the more they want to be involved. It’s a pretty simple concept…and works with people too. 🙂

    1. Fabulous, Tammy! Isn’t it amazing what we can learn from interacting with other creatures… so much about them, even more about ourselves. Thank you for your wonderful remarks.

  2. Of horse, er of COURSE, I love this post. The lessons I’ve learned about leadership, humility, focus, discipline, unspoken communication….the list is infinite. Any human who has the invitation to engage with a horse under adult supervision should trot at the chance!

    1. P.S. Just confirmed Andi is my long-time friend and first trainer Cathy Huddleston’s partner in this venture. I’ve had such amazing experiences with Cathy and my horses. Entrepreneurs are in very good hands here. Now you should gallop at the opportunity.

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