HUMAN teachers were replaced by horses when women from across the north west took part in a leadership and development course with a difference.

Harness Change, based in Haverthwaite, hosted ten delegates as part of a Cumbria Chamber of Commerce event called Harness Confidence.

It aimed to help businesswomen develop their confidence and leadership skills through Equine Facilitated Learning.

Zara Myers, director of Harness Change, and Coach and Business Development Specialist, said: “It is incredible to see how people adapt their behaviours as individuals and as part of a team, when they are working with the horses.

“The sessions we deliver are far removed from standard leadership and development courses; by harnessing the horses natural reaction to want to form a bond with the herd leader, we are able to give our delegates a real insight into how their intentions and behaviours affect those they work with.”

The day consisted of refreshments and introductions at the centre's teaching room followed by an overview of the day’s session explaining how Harness Confidence is about the individual, how they work within a business, their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

The group was split into smaller working groups and moved to the stables where they were introduced to Prada and Pepper, their equine teachers. Zara, alongside her mother Sheelagh, a facilitator with over 10 years experience working with horses, worked with the group.

Each delegate was asked to work with the horse and could choose how and what they wanted to do. Through this, the delegate could see their habitual behaviours, how they approach situations and their usual way of working with others.

Zara said: “It may seem like a simple task, but a horse will not walk alongside a person who doesn’t command their respect. The exercise is all about making sure the person has set their intentions, is confident and assured. Only at that point will the horse agree to go with them.

“This exercise works well because each person’s individual anxieties are brought to the forefront and then we address it. We talk about how those issues affect the working environment, and we help them to overcome that.

“Once they have overcome their obstacle, the horse will move with them, and in the long term they have different strategies to take into work. Perhaps a new sense of confidence, or a new approach to conflict.”

The day ended with feedback on the session and an opportunity to network.