Equine Assisted Learning: Innovative Approach

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This paper aims to explore an innovative approach for corporate leadership development training by considering how engaging horses as partners in leadership training may lead to more effective leadership development. Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is an experience-oriented approach targeted at the development of life skills for achieving professional, educational, and personal goals by introducing equine-assisted activities. According to available researches, EAL has been proposed as one of the innovative training approaches that develop long-lasting behavioral changes regarding participants’ leadership ability. Horses, as prey animals, are attuned to the external world; the perception of their environment is a very honest and immediate expression that these animals provide participants genuine opportunities to engage with others in the present moment and obtain honest feedback regarding the congruence between what they say and what they do as leaders.

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Thus, this research is focused on exploring the available literature regarding the practical implications of equine-assisted programs; as well as how they integrate with the development of leadership skills. While it has been hypothesized that horses can teach humans about leadership a lot, the study found that the approach was effective, although not standardized enough due to the adjustment of each program to the needs of specific groups.

Purpose of the Project

The main aim of this project is to find innovative ways of delivering leadership development training for the workforce of Mongolia. As a country that has a small yet young population and a growing economy, it is essential to invest in our employees’ training and development to make them better leaders for tomorrow. With an intent to introduce creative approaches for delivering leadership programs for Mongolian workforce, I came across Equine-assisted learning while conducting my research. As a nomadic country, horses play an important role in the daily life on the Mongols. Even the nation holds more than three million horses which outnumbers the human population of the country. Therefore, it would be fascinating to determine whether Equine-assisted learning is an effective approach for leadership training through empirical studies that have been done in the field, even though it is very limited. If it proves to be an effective approach, a further experimental study can be developed in Mongolia.

Therefore, the findings of the study will be addressed from a practical perspective. Since the aim of the research is to find innovative ways of delivering leadership development training of Mongolian employees, it is imperative for the investigator to put them into practice in order to improve the outcomes associated with the study field. In this case, the findings will be used for determining whether equine-assisted programs can aid in leadership development and become effective training tools for the workforce.

Introduction

Organizations are investing significant amount of money into employee leadership development training each year. While it is important to have skilled leaders in today’s competitive economy, effectiveness of training is hard to substantiate. It is common that after the completion of a leadership program, new leadership behaviors aren’t sustained. According to Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve, adults forget an average of 70 percent of the information presented just in 24 hours. (Murre, 2005)

Theresearch on theexperiential learningillustrates that through metaphor in the context of working with horses can benefitdirectly to individual’s behavior at work and result long term retention. Although much of the research has been conducted in the Equine-Assisted psychotherapy field, this paper aims to propose equine-assisted learning as a sustainable approach to promote leadership development through experiential learning method.Through this facilitated experience, participants engage in a process of self-discovery that leads to deeper learning.

Over the years, there are a number of leadership theories and styles have been researched. The relationship between leadership and performance is supported with academic researches carried out in this field and is expressed that the correct leadership style can improve organisational performance (Northouse, 1997; Antonakis and House, 2004).Many scholars propose that in a global world leadership should move towards transformational characteristics that entail an ability to inspire, develop and encourage employees to view organisational tasks beyond their own self-interest (Garcia-Morales et al., 2008)

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As suggested by Bass and Avolio (1994), transformational leader possess four behaviours such as idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration. The behaviours are described in the Table 1.

Table 1. Transformational leadership behaviour (Bass&Avolio, 1994).

Transformational behaviour Key Factor Behaviours
Idealised influence Communication important values and a shared sense of purpose
Inspirational motivation Confidently communication a compelling vision and goals
Intellectual stimulation Challenging old ways of thinking and encouraging different perspectives
Individualised consideration Treating followers as individuals and supporting their development

As we can see from the above table, the ability for leaders to clearly communicate is a key to effective leadership. Transformational leaders with good communication skills can establish clear sense of purpose, vision and goals. Furthermore, transformational leaders operate with inspirational values and exhibit caring and display consideration towards their followers. Kark et al. (2003) suggest that transformational leadership influences followers by connecting their concept of self to the mission of the organisation or group and by addressing and modifying their values and self-esteem.Also, Bass (1985) notes, the more supportive leaders are perceived to be, the deeper and more enduring their follower’s trust in them. Thus it is crucial to develop communication skills, trustworthiness, emotional intelligence and self-awareness in leaders through leadership programs. For this reason, equine assisted programs are now being offered to businesses as a part of their process of transformational leadership training and team building. Such experiential leadership and team building programs have been developed to reinforce the emotional and social intelligence of the employees. It has been hypothesized that horses may help humans to develop leadership abilities by increasing communication skills, self-awareness, emotional skills, self-confidence, and trust building skills. Despite the fact that this field of practice is increasing, limited scientific research has been done in regarding the leadership outcomes from the equine-assisted learning programs. Nevertheless, thispaper focused on exploring the available literatures regarding the practical implications of equine-assisted programs as well as how they integrate with the development of leadership skills.

What is Equine-Assisted Learning?

Equine Assisted Learning refers to unique activities performed with the help of horses targeted at achieving experiential learning (Adams et al., 2015). Typically, such learning activities are offered to groups; for instance, equine assisted learning can be used for re-engaging students into learning or easing high-risk adolescents into alternative schooling programs. Generally, learners of equine assisted programs participate in on-ground activities with horses and then analyse the response patterns that appear from the interactions with horses. This gives the learnerskinaesthetic learning reinforced by the in-depth analysis of their activities. It usually depends on the group how they choose to carry their experience back to the workplace: how the leader will change the leadership style, how productive behaviours will be enhanced, and what ineffective practices will be eliminated.

Program design and implementation of equine-assisted learning courses vary in format; however, there is a general list of procedures that are being followed prior, during, and after learning. First, a plan of the lesson is being designed by the instructor to make sure that the preliminary objectives and goals are identified. Second, the class of an EAL program starts with greetings and introductions aimed at making the process of integration into the learning process easier for participants. For instance, participants may express their concerns or reflect on their past experiences. The first activity with a horse includes an unmounted horse, so participants are only required to participate indirectly and be observant of the animal. Then, the instructor along with participants discusses the results of the first activity: what did participants observe, how the observation relates to the topic of the class, how the new skills can be applied to the workplace setting. Every EAL workshop, including those targeted at developing leadership skills among employees and managers, is designed on the basis of the needs of the group, which means that many classes can differ from one another, even if they have a similar objective. Overall, the effectiveness of equine-assisted programs on corporate leadership training is a vast opportunity for research.

As prey animals, horses are very attuned to the external world; the perception of their environment is a very honest and immediate expression that these animals communicate via their body language (“Why horses,” n.d.). Naturally, horses test for leadership to make sure that their leader will guarantee their safety. Herd leaders are assertive, trustworthy, and are clear communicators, which are qualities that effective human leaders should possess. Thus, it can be suggested that horses can be effective in helping people develop their leadership qualities. Equine-assisted learning is a process that can be transferable to all people since they can usually learn and practice new skills. Such skills are relational since they are created on the basis of relationships, whether those relationships are between bosses and employees or leaders and their groups. The value of new skills does not change if it has been acquired from experiential learning with horses.

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Why Horses?

Relationships between people and horses have a long and varied history (Hausberger, Roche, Henry, & Visser, 2008). Despite the fact that horsemeat might have been the first motivation to domesticate horses in the beginning, these animals have become essential transportation “tools,” and, like many other animals, have become companions for human beings. Contrast to a large majority of domesticated animals that humans mostly keep for food production, breeding, and wool production, horses have acquired a mixed status (Hausberger et al., 2008), becoming sources of food for some, leisure and sport for others, and an agricultural component in rural areas of the land. Moreover, recently, horses have become very popular in assisting in therapeutic and learning programs. The diversity of the relationships between horses and people corresponds to the diversity of people that have various occupations, interests, ethnical backgrounds, and levels of education. Interactions between humans and horses can be still observed in a variety of occasions ranging from short-term interactions (between a vet and the animal) and the long-term bonds that develop between an owner and his or her horse.

Daily interactions between humans and horses occur in two directions: while humans give their knowledge to horses, animals can also teach humans a lot. Surprisingly, as appeared on theForbes article by Begley Bloom (2017) horses can teach people a lot about business. These animals have shown to bring out the best in people, help them become confident (Adams, 2015). Furthermore, the unique relationships within herds can also be essential in realizing the most effective leadership practices. Interestingly, herds are matriarchy and are not run by a big stallion with a “harem of mares” (Begley Bloom, 2017, para. 6). Within this model, herds are feminine systems that different to the human systems; herds tend to value intuition over rational thought and cooperation over manipulation. Therefore, horses can show people, and especially women, how to seize opportunities of using their power and how that power could be used for carrying out leadership processes that may strengthen the system and optimal outcomes.

Another example of how horses can become effective in teaching humans about leadership was presented in the Fortune article by Kaplan. According to the article, horses are animals that never care about who people are, whether they are rich or poor: in all cases, horses give honest feedback (Kaplan, 2015). The modern equestrian community has made a major shift from fear-based leadership (e.g. “breaking” a horse and make it obey orders) to respect-based leadership since horses react to intimidating tactics the same way people react to intimidating leaders (Kaplan, 2015). To become a leader for a horse, a person has to listen to it, be consistent and definite in orders and intentions. It is crucial not to let the horse push a person around, the same way a leader should let the team push him or her around; this means that if a human does not provide leadership for the equine, the animal will overtake the leadership role (Kaplan, 2016).

Experiential learning theory (make the relevance to EAL clearer)

The Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), which was developed by David Kolb, is based on the earlier concepts created by Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, and John Dewey. It is depicted in Figure 1. As noted by Kolb (1984), “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience” (p. 41). The theory describes learning as a 4-stage process, a cycle that starts with Concrete Experience, or simply having an experience, which leads to Reflective Observation, or reflecting on the experience. The third stage is Abstract Conceptualization, which is learning from the experience, and the final stage is Active Experimentation. At this stage, the newly formed knowledge is put into practice, which, in turn, leads to new experiences.

The Experiential Learning Cycle
The Experiential Learning Cycle(Kolb,1984).

The application of ELT has been testedindifferent contexts and it resulted increased knowledge absorption. For example, MIT offered an MBA course titled “Dynamic Leadership: Using Improvisation in Business” and used the 4 stage learning cycle. At the end of the course, participants reported increased leadership and communication skills. Over 95% of the class reported that the experience “changed their behavior in a positive, confident manner.” (Balachandra, 2004, 41).

The design of equine experience follows the 4 stages of the learning cycle in order to engage in deeper learning. First, participants go through concrete exercises with horses, then reflect on the experience, think about how the experience could be metaphorically related to a work situation, and last, experiment with new ways of doing things based on what they have learned.

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Also, experiential learning is not complete without an effective facilitator. As Kolb described (2012) the role of the facilitator is to “helps learners get in touch with their personal experience and reflect on it”. Facilitation must be done effectively to progress to the other roles and further learning. In the equine experience, a trained facilitator is with each small group of participants as they engage with the horses and perform the various exercises. Their role is to draw out the self-knowledge that is depicted by the Facilitator Role.

Literature Review(Provide a brief outline of what will be covered in the lit review, and why.)

I think you should include a little more, throughout the project, on why it is particularly relevant to the horse oriented culture in Mongolia.

By the end of the 20th century, horses became used in therapy to facilitate the treatment of a vast variety of mental problems and disorders, such as trauma, anxiety, and ADHD, as well as some eating disorders (Lentini & Knox, 2009; Wolframm, 2013). The use of horses in psychotherapy is commonly referred to as Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) (Wolframm, 2013). In their work, Lentini and Knox (2009) review a large number of articles concerning the use of EFP in the treatment of children and adolescents. The study demonstrates that this type of therapy helps improve self-esteem, communication skills, and problems with focusing and attention. It also leads to a decrease in aggression and general negative feelings (Lentini & Knox, 2009). There is not enough research, however, on the effectiveness of EAL, as it is not as common as the use of horses for purely therapeutic reasons, and the existing literature on the subject is not of scientific quality (Andersen & Andersen, 2009). Besides that, there is still no definite consensus on what term should be used to refer to this type of learning experience. The term Equine-Assisted Learning, however, is used in this particular study as it is the most common. The general goal of Equine-Assisted Learning is the development or improvement of leadership and management skills. The basic idea of EAL is that the use of horses in the process of learning might help participants become more in harmony with themselves and increase social and self-awareness. In addition, an active experience like that might help an individual assess and analyze their behavior through interactions with the horse involved in a session. The development of social and emotional skills might also be encouraged by the process of active learning (Gehrke, 2009; Maziere & Gunnlaugson, 2015; Trotter, 2012).

As horses are naturally inclined to seek leadership, it is reasonable to suggest that they might be useful for the development of leadership skills in people. Before a human and a horse can properly cooperate, they have to establish a connection on an emotional level (Maziere & Gunnlaugson, 2015; Trotter, 2012). Based on the concepts and theoretical ideas discussed in this section, it appears to be realistic to assume that Equine-Assisted Learning might facilitate the development of leadership skills through increasing emotional intelligence.

Leadership and Horses

As already mentioned, leadership dynamics within herds are different to the dynamics that people are used to. Nevertheless, there is a lot that horses can teach humans regarding becoming effective leaders. At first glance, it may seem unusual to use horses to train leaders; however, it has been becoming more and more accessible within the marketplace of training, as mentioned by Kelly (2014). Such an assessment is not surprising since the incorporation of animals into activities to achieve a unique selling proposition has been used for decades. During such training activities, the natural world and animals can offer an appealing and accessible spiritual development activity that may be later transferred to any other setting and environment (Kelly, 2014). Because horses are herd animals that depend on their organizational structure to survive, and because they can “read” other animals’ intentions, they are immaculate examples of leadership, interdependence, and teamwork that can also be applied in the workplace. Furthermore, as horses have the ability to sense the energetic field of interactions with humans, they can have consistent communication and organizational effectiveness when it comes to using them in leadership training (Kaye Gehrke, 2013). Energetic connections within herds can help groups of people understand the importance of such connections.

Fascinating accounts of the effectiveness of equine-assisted leadership training programs were described by many researchers. For instance, Kelly (2014) participated in the training of middle and senior managers in a government-funded program. The aim of the training was to address the challenges managers experienced when taking on leadership roles in their organizations. The program entitled Personal Leadership Journey had an objective of providing middle and senior managers with vital information and skills they could potentially use to turn themselves into effective leaders in an organizational setting. The instructors used a “horse whisperer” technique to help managers learn how to imitate and recognize body and sensory signals used by horses in the wild environment for establishing dominance and maintaining pack order (Kelly, 2014). Before engaging in exercises, trainees were shown how to perform “join-up” and “follow-up” signals used to guide horses around the training space.

Another interesting account was described by Kaye Gehrke (2013), who wrote about energetic leadership of a team. For instance, to help the group of trainees to understand energetic connections horses have between each other, the instructor asked them to stand in a large circle at five to ten feet away from each other. One of the team leaders was invited to come into the centre of the circle and direct a horse to move from one person to another around the circle in one direction, and then in another (Kaye Gerhrke, 2013).

Darling (2014) also discovered the benefits of equine-assisted programs to mentally healthy people that are interested in personal development and growth. The unique relationships between humans and horses, acquiring confidence, learning responsibility, and increased awareness were the most prominent outcomes of the equine-assisted learning program, which the researcher studied. By drawing information from study participants who have spent several years interacting with horses, Darling (2014) found that humans can experience increased personal growth as a result of time spent with those animals. Moreover, apart from potential implications of personal growth development, the researcher also found implications for psychological treatment, which speaks a lot about how horses can influence human beings on the emotional level.

Lastly, it is worth examining the article written by Shari (2011) that underlined the effectiveness of equine-assisted learning programs in opening unique opportunities for all ages. The author mentioned the IDEAL program that was composed of four-month training of 90 participants ranging from eight-year children to adults in their forties (Shari, 2011). The key objectives of the course included the development of such skills as team building and negotiation, which form the foundation of relationships within herds and remain a fundamental tool for people interacting within a society. Programs such as IDEAL offer participants an array of educational tools that can benefit any community member; by integrating preliminary research into practice, equine-assisted learning programs have been investing into resolving some of themost difficult issues societies encounter on a regular basis such as high school dropout rates, difficulties at home and school, risky behaviours, suicide attempts, and many more (Shari, 2011).

It is crucial to mention that the implementation of equine-assisted learning programs to train leaders is also beneficial for horses. While there have been many questions regarding the ethicality of animals’ use in training or therapy, Nelson, Signal, and Wilson (2016) found that horses can benefit from the programs. Careful selection of horses that will fit the programs is vital for ensuring that no behavioural and physiological harm is done to these animals (Nelson et al., 2016). Moreover, Lentini and Knox (2009) also did not found any specific circumstances under which horses can be harmed from leadership training programs and interactions with human beings.

Effectiveness of EAL Programs

Based on the review of research findings presented in the chapter above, equine-assisted learning has been effective for some study participants. However, the key issues in the workplace have shown to be largely associated with the influx of the generation of Millenials (“Satisfying the workers who appreciate galloping change,” 2016). As on-the-job training and coaching programs have become increasingly ineffective, there was a need in finding new and unique ways of satisfying the developmental needs of employees and their managers. Equine-assisted learning programs have become very popular in addressing the needs of the Millenial workforce as well as companies that are trying to keep them in their positions. Because this generation has proven to develop differently to others, it made sense to integrate unique and different training programs to cater to the needs of Millenials, as found in the article “Satisfying the workers who appreciate galloping change” (2016).

Apart from helping retain Millennials in the workplace, equine-assisted learning has been proven to be effective in developing emotional intelligence competencies that are necessary for expert nurses to be effective leaders, as found in the study by Dyk and Cheung (2012). The concept of emotional intelligence is associated with accurately perceiving body language and non-verbal signs, which aligns with the way horses communicate. Thus, by means of leveraging the innate sensibility skills of horses as key ways of communication within herds, as well as along with their honest reactions to the body language of humans, equine-assisted learning programs managed to create an enriching educational environment, in which expert nurses could get a better understanding of leadership and effectively practice their skills within the area of their professional operations (Dyk & Cheung, 2012). Learning transfer is another concept that expert nurses practiced during equine-assisted learning programs. Transfer of learning takes place when learning within a specific environment and set of materials can have a direct impact on the practice that takes place in an entirely different environment. Thus, the effectiveness of any kind of equine-assisted learning is associated with such a transfer of learning from the horse arena to the professional and personal life of the program’s participants.

Equine-assisted learning programs have also been effective in enhancing the perceived social support, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (Hauge, Kvalem, Berget, Enders-Slegers, & Braastad, 2014), which are integral components of leadership. The study by Hauge et al. (2014) examined the effect of EAL on the overall self-awareness of adolescents without known behavioural problems. The four-month program showed to increase the level of learning, even among those participants that initially reported the lowest levels of perceived social support or self-efficacy (Hauge et al., 2014). Such findings suggest that equine-assisted learning can be a tool for promoting self-esteem among adolescents that will become effective leaders in the future.

If to compare EAL with other leadership development programs, it is evident that it is unique in its approach towards leadership. Horses are spontaneous creatures that exhibit instant and honest reactions to the behaviour of other horses or human beings. Thus, leadership training programs that use horses are targeted at encouraging participants to be more reactive and in tune with other participants. However, other leadership training programs call for a much more analytic and rational approach towards relationships within groups. When interacting with horses, humans should use emotional cues carried out through the following channels: voice, body language, and facial expressions (Hausberger et al., 2008). Thus, a human being is required to approach horses from a position of openness and awareness to ensure a successful interaction; however, non-equine-assisted leadership programs are targeted at developing analytical skills that will be ineffective when interacting with horses. There is a gap in research literature when it comes to comparing the effectiveness of equine-assisted leadership programs with other techniques, which is an opportunity for modern researchers interested in the topic of leadership training.

Other Ways to Use EAL

When it comes to using EAL in other employee training, equine-assisted coaching is a useful tool that offers an experiential learning regarding team building and overall well-being that can later transfer directly to the workplace. However, an interesting usage of EAL regarding employment has been discovered by Goodwin (2016), who found that learning programs with the usage of horses provide psychological and vocational skill building for veterans who are looking for a job after their service. Because there are veterans who have received either physical or emotional trauma during their military service, equine-assisted learning is used to impose a positive mind-set as well as improve the overall well-being, so that veterans have more opportunities in seeking a job.

Limitations of EAL

The majority of views regarding the limitations of EAL training revolve around the dangers of horse riding as well as other interactions between humans and horses. Because horses are emotional and spontaneous animals, the activities performed during classes can have unpredictable consequences. On the other hand, if something happens that is out of participants’ control, there is an opportunity for them to react how they feel is the most suitable for a specific situation, which gives learners more control over their learning. Despite the fact that horses involved in equine-assisted learning programs are specially trained (which minimizes the possibility of any trauma), participants should still use caution and discretion when interacting with animals, which can limit the learning process.

Ethological challenges can also come in the way of equine-assisted learning due to the debates about animals’ usage. An ethological challenge is associated with interventions into the life of horses that cause environmental distress and social frustration (McGreevy & McLean, 2006). For example, social frustration may occur when a horse is taken away from its usual social surrounding and being introduced into more aggressive and competitive environment where other horses compete for a role of a leader. When a horse experiences such discomfort, it is likely that it will exhibit unpredictable behaviour, especially when it is poorly trained. Overall, to avoid the limitations of equine-assisted learning, instructors should pay extra attention to the well-being of horses to ensure their comfort as well as smooth interactions with participants.

Logistically,there are few limitations that might occur in the context of Mongolian environment. Mongolia has a harsh climate ranging from minus 30 degrees in the winter to plus 30 degrees in the summer. Therefore, it might cause difficulty EAL centres to operate all year around, unless a horse arena is built. Also, from a business perspective marginal value will be low to run these centres in regard to the market size. Equine assisted programs are popular in first world countries such the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and UK. The demand is higher in the market, therefore both the operators and clients can benefit from the program. However, in Mongolia’s case, as a third world country, it might not be practical to implement solely equine-assisted learning centres. But definitely it can be combined with various kinds of experiential learning activities and leadership training programs.

Discussion

In practice, perhaps there is no measurement on return on investment for training and development other than interviewing and surveying the participants and the managers. It is hard to come up with quantitative results as the nature of the studies and the fact that human interact and learn from different sources every day. In of the research evidence from the interviews indicated that participants did portray characteristics of developing skills that are needed by today’s managers, such that self-awareness, empathy, communication with clear intention, possessing a positive, calm demeanor and having the ability to expand vision to see more solutions.

Effectiveness of equine-assisted learning programs has been measured with the help of surveys administered to participants. For instance, Colston, Shultz, and Porr (2015) conducted a series of online surveys sent to university college instructors that participated in the EAL course to determine their current operation in the workplace and see whether they had achieved success with the help of the program. Most of the researches conducted in the field have used interview to access the impact of the program. Despite the fact that an interview is an intersubjective and flexible tool for data collection which enables the participant to give their opinions about real life experience there is a possibility that the same research will have different results. In addition, participants may have had difficulties in order to explain the situation as it is performed in real life. Although little information was given about the insight of the studies there is a possibility that the answers are influenced by social desired behavior of the respondents. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the respondents who were willing to make time to participate in this study are already passionate about this topic and therefore expected to be less critical and more subjective about their own method. To obtain more understanding about the subjects outlined, more validated and reliable research is required in future studies.

Another limitation regarding the studieswere the number and the diversity of participants. Mostly, the participants were selected from the same domains such as university lectures, nurses, veterans or young adults. The results are potentially subject to bias because the information collected during the interview is based on the experience and opinions of the same level or background respondents. Consequently, the conclusions in this study are based on this inter-subjective information of the respondents’ individual perception (Cohen et al., 2007). For this reason, future research in this area should include considerable number of participants from diverse fields such as multinational organisations.

Further Research Questions

The topic of equine-assisted learning for leadership development has shown to be vast; it includes a range of perspectives. Overall, the review of available research has shown that participants can find tremendous value in equine-assisted programs since the nature of relationships between horses as well as how leaders are perceived within herds can teach humans how to become effective leaders in workplace ‘herds.’ While the overall attitude towards equine-assisted programs is regarded as positive, there are some gaps in research that should be filled by the future studies. Among such gaps is the comparison of equine-assisted learning with other types of experiential learning used for leadership development. While the accounts of equine-assisted learning classes have been extensively described by researchers (Kelly, 2014; Kaye Gehrke, 2013; Darling, 2014), the studies did not compare the effectiveness of programs that involve horses with the effectiveness of other experiential learning programs. Thus, a question for future research is as follows: “How equine-assisted leadership development programs differ from other types of experiential learning programs?”

Another gap in research literature relates to the program design and implementation. Since the majority of equine-assisted learning programs for leadership development are designed specifically to cater to the needs of a group, it is complicated to outline a general approach towards EAL program design. Therefore, the next question for further research will be “What are the key aspects of program design and implementation to ensure the success of equine-assisted learning for leadership development?”

Lastly, it is important to further investigate the characteristics of the Mongolian workforce as well as leadership dynamics within organizations. Culturally, Mongolians are very in tune with nature and horses specifically; however, the application of equine-assisted learning to the development of leadership skills within the Mongolian workforce will remain unclear until the socio-cultural peculiarities of employees’ interactions as well as the most common leadership practices. Thus, another question for further research is “How equine-assisted learning for leadership development aligns with the socio-cultural peculiarities of the Mongolian workforce?”

Conclusion

Equine-assisted learning is a unique approach towards leadership development that heavily relies on the facilitation of interactions between humans and horses. Because horses are herd animals that have interesting dynamics within their groups, and because they are reactive and emotional, aspiring leaders can learn a lot about how to be effective in their interactions with employees. Despite the fact that equine-assisted learning is a relatively new approach, especially regarding leadership development, the accounts described by several researchers suggest that such programs have a potential to become very popular in the sphere of coaching and corporate training.

Mongolians are close to horses, which represent a large part the culture. In the history it’s been said that back in the 13th century, the great Chinggis Khan conquered the world on his horse. Perhaps, horses played a vital role in training ancient warriors. Therefore, there is an opportunity to incorporate EAL courses for leadership development into coaching and training practices for managers and other workers responsible for guiding others towards the accomplishment of common goals. However, due to lack of researches in the context of Mongolia, much researches need to be conducted in regards of leadership, training and the dynamics of the Mongolian workforce. Nonetheless, it is expected that the establishment of Equine-assisted leadership training will bring value as an innovative approach in leadership training not only in Mongolian workforce but to all.

References

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BusinessEssay. (2022, May 15). Equine Assisted Learning: Innovative Approach. Retrieved from https://business-essay.com/equine-assisted-learning-innovative-approach/

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "Equine Assisted Learning: Innovative Approach." May 15, 2022. https://business-essay.com/equine-assisted-learning-innovative-approach/.

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BusinessEssay. "Equine Assisted Learning: Innovative Approach." May 15, 2022. https://business-essay.com/equine-assisted-learning-innovative-approach/.