I recently watched a very funny video titled “Ponies” by the comedy team of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. In this video, Dawn’s horse, Peter Pan, will not move and Jen’s horse, Jigsaw, will not stop. In one scene, Peter Pan is grazing along the side of the lane while Dawn is trying to get his head up to get him to move. Jigsaw and Jen go trotting by while Jen is pleading, “Just stop, Jigsaw, just stop.” They disappear down the road and around the bend. Peter Pan is still grazing and not moving when Jigsaw comes cantering back and Jen shouts, “Well, see you down there!” It’s funny because those of who ride have at some time had a horse that went to fast or too slow.
Neither woman has control of her horse. Dawn ineffectually kicks Peter Pan to get him to go. Jen pulls on Jigsaw’s rein to try to make him stop. As leaders for their horses, these riders have the responsibility to balance the horse’s “go” with his “whoa.” There are exercises these riders can do with their horses to teach the horses to rate their speed, but most importantly, they need to become better leaders so that the horse wants to follow and go at the speed the rider wants.
The riders also talk to their horses a lot. Humans use verbal language to communicate, and it is hard-wired in us to talk, but for the most part it is an ineffective way to ask a horse to do something. A horse will respond to voice cues, but he responds much better to physical cues. Actions speak louder than words.
I’ve seen this happen with bosses, too. I have seen a boss tell his regional managers, “We need more business. Go out and do marketing in your local area and bring in more business.” I could look around the room and see that the managers had no idea how to do what was asked of them. The boss should have followed up his words with actions to teach them how to drum up more business.
The characters in the video seem to have a good time in spite of their horses that don’t do what they ask. When you watch these comediennes in this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWd_r2sOPhs, look for how lack of leadership makes their horse experience much more difficult.