Fear and Leadership: Reflections from Horses

Have you ever felt scared of the unknown? You know, feeling frightened and uncertain, not knowing what to do, or how to do it. The worst part can be feeling so all alone while believing there is nowhere to turn for support. How can we find our way back to heart-centered relationships, beginning with ourselves?

This experience of awakening, is captured beautifully in the guest blog below, by Ruth Crea…


I finished parking the ATV, after mucking for several hours, and peered over at the horses to see who might want to engage for some quality time together in the corrals. My horse Lacey was standing at the far end of her corral and our eyes met briefly. Next, I wondered where the minis were and I then gazed over at the other corral and noticed Finn standing with Shara lying down beside him. I gazed back at Lacey, and then at Finn, and I just felt drawn to enter Finn's corral. As I entered through the fence, and started walking to the center, Finn immediately came towards me with Aragon right on his tail.

I started talking to Finn, “I am so scared, and I need to find some peace.”  He stayed with me, breathing.  I put my face close to his and took some deep belly breaths.  I noticed how he looked like he was falling asleep, as his eyes were half closed.  I felt at peace just being near him.  I was then drawn to ask him about how he leads the herd. I spoke to him, “How are you able to keep all of the herd feeling safe? Would you please show me how to be a good leader?”  

Immediately, he took a step back; as he lifted his head with pinned ears, arched his back, and cocked his hind leg at Aragon.  Aragon moved backwards in sync with Finn. I acknowledged his movement, “of course, slow and steady and calm.”  He then repeated the movements and moved Aragon one more time. 

I realized that he led the herd with softness along with firmness.  I thanked him for showing me this and he shifted and placed me next to his shoulder.  I buried my face for a moment in his side and took a couple of deep belly breaths.  As I stood next to him, I imagined him walking with me, and we stood side by side for a few moments.

It was then as Finn walked away that Aragon came to me, and we stood there for a moment, face to face.  He moved his head down and around my coat.  He was doing some light lipping which felt safe.  It even felt safe as he grabbed the part of my coat covering my forearm, however, I had thought he would let go, but he didn’t.  He had my coat in his mouth and was pulling my arm up over my head. I shook my arm and told him to let go, but he didn’t so I took my energy stick, nudged him under the chin, which got my message through, and he let go. 

I then used my energy stick and asked him to back up a couple of steps.  He listened and took a couple of steps back, but then came near again.  This time I chose to let him stay.  I felt some curiosity with this big guy as he was moving his face near my face.  While I was allowing him near, there was a part of me that felt some wariness.  I was paying very close attention to his lips.  I wanted him close and I wanted to trust him, and yet, I didn’t feel trust so I moved him back once again, so that there could be space between us. 

As I was standing looking at Aragon, I decided to play a game with him – to see if I could move his feet.  I had played this game with him before, claiming territory, which involves asking the horse to move away from where they are standing and placing your feet where the horse’s back hooves had been.  Horses have an understanding that the leader is the one who moves the other.  It feels empowering to play this game with Aragon and to ask him to move around the corral.

What happened next was not planned.  I focused my attention on Aragon’s back feet and moved towards him.  However, instead of moving away, Aragon circled around me.  It felt like a dance, so I continued to focus my attention on his back feet, and we circled several times.  When I decided I was done with this, I positioned my energy stick perpendicular to the ground between myself and Aragon and Aragon came to a stop.  For a few moments, we stood facing each other, enjoying the quiet.  I then asked him to back up some and he did. 

What transpired next was quite amazing and definitely not expected.  I decided to walk away into the other corral and Aragon started following me, walking behind me.  I walked around the corral once wondering how long Aragon would follow me.  I was quite fascinated.  This big black horse was choosing to stay with me following me wherever I went.  It was a realization for me as I grasped that he wasn’t just following me, he was allowing me to lead him.  He was choosing to follow me.

As I made this discovery, I turned around, stopped, and thanked him for showing me that when I show up with presence, of course he would follow me.  In fact, he was willing to follow me without me even asking.  It was such a magical moment and I felt completely safe standing face to face with him.  There was a sense of mutual understanding.  I thanked him again for this moment, and then turned and started walking towards Finn to thank him. Aragon followed me all the way over to Finn, and they ended up being nose to nose as I expressed my gratitude.  I was positioned so close to both of these magnificent horses, and I was safe. There was just something about being between the two of them, and feeling their powerful energy, that filled my being with empowerment.  As I walked away Aragon accompanied me all the way to the fence. 

I have to share that I am always so amazed when I spend time with this herd, and this time, I entered the corral without the accompaniment of my coach.  I listened to my intuition as to what corral to enter and even more so, I entered with an open heart, with the intention of being good receiver. 

The gift I received is how to lead with grace.  However, there was so much more that the horses reflected for me.  Finn modeled for me how to be a good leader, and when I could really understand and Finn could sense this, he moved away and allowed Aragon to come to me. 

One aspect that is important to share is that the horses can represent others in one’s life or aspects of an individual.  On this day, both Finn and Aragon came to represent unique aspects of my husband, Ron. 

As I am reflecting on this experience with Finn, how he stayed with me, breathing, until my body calmed.  He did this by moving into a state of pure relaxation, where he was so relaxed it appeared as if he was falling asleep.  I did tell him exactly what I was needing, that I was scared, and I was needing to find peace, and this is exactly what Finn did with me.  I am realizing that this is how Ron shows up when I am in distress.  Furthermore, I recognize I need to be willing to make clear requests when I need some support, instead of keeping everything to myself, and expecting others to know what I am needing. 

In the past few weeks I have been willing to speak honestly, and with as much grace as I am capable of.  However, to be honest, I have been coming from a place of panic.  This pandemic of Covid19 has felt terrifying, because I desire everyone that I love to be safe.  With Ron’s support, as we have been working together to create a parameter of protection for our family, I have been able to calm down. This is exactly what Finn showed me as he dropped into a state of relaxation, because as he became more relaxed, I naturally synced up with his energy. 

Another aspect that was revealed during my experience, is that I had been conditioned to listen unconditionally to anyone I perceived has authority, especially men.  Even if I questioned what they were saying or did not agree with them. I would either get angry and frustrated or I would not speak up at all. 

With Aragon I showed up with empowerment, and this reflects how in my life recently I have stepped up to meet the Covid19 Pandemic.  I have spoken up to create a boundary of protection around my family, which includes my sister-in-law, and the family I work for, because we all matter. All of our lives matter.

On this day, as Aragon held my coat with his mouth above my head, I stood firm. I asked him to let go. When he didn’t let go, I asked him more firmly and used my energy stick to nudge him lightly under his chin until he did let go.  I did not have any hard feelings, yet after he let go, I asked him to back up to give me some space.  There was mutual respect and understanding between us. 

The circular dance that happened next reflected how Ron and I have become more interdependent and more in sync with each other as we move through this pandemic together.  I have been bringing up my concerns and sharing with my family strategies for health and wellness, and Ron has backed me up.  We have become a team, together we are stronger, and we are supporting our family in a way that we have not ever done before. In this way, the pandemic has brought us closer.

I know that this pandemic is challenging all of us in new ways, and in many ways, it is allowing all of us, especially me, to really look at who I have come here to be. I recognize now, that when I was crying earlier in the corral, naming how terrified I was, both Aragon and Finn came near me at different times. But I wasn't open to receive anything from them. I was crying, in distress, and I was wrapped up in all that energy that seemed to arise suddenly.  The horses did come over and acknowledge this, and even invited me to be open to having an experience with them.  They were just waiting for me to be willing to be in relationship them.  They are just like my coach; she also allows me to take responsibility to ask for support when I need it.


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