Bookproject: "Horsemanship and Leadership"
based on a quote of Charles Montesquieu
Handling of horses and the acquisition of horsemanship had been a crucial and fundamental part in the training of leading elites until the Second World War. „For millennia, all great leaders learned intelligent leadership by interacting with their horse“ (Fritz Hendrich). This obvious and natural source for the development of leadership skills has escaped the collective consciousness almost completely in this day and age.
In many nations, this particularly applies to men, who used to have such close and strong relationships with horses for centuries. Their status, their reputation, and in many cases even their survival depended on their brilliant riding skills. Horsemanship and leadership used to go hand in hand. A person capable of handling a mighty stallion with apparent ease was expected and trusted to lead people as well. It is not by chance that many great leaders had themselves immortalised proudly on horseback. Numerous equestrian monuments still bear imposing witness to that in our cities.
It is obvious that very different living conditions prevail in our current society, where horses are no longer needed as agile and resilient means of transportation nor as the backbone of our military. In the past, horses were a crucial factor for coping with various existential challenges. Today humankind faces a number of different existential challenges like globalisation, climate change, unstable financial markets, economic restructuring, etc. Social change like the high degree of interconnectedness and digitisation, a different way of approaching information through social media as well as succeeding generations raised with different values entail new requirements for leaders. Therefore, recent decades were characterised by the search for new and succinct leadership models.
Offers including the catchword "leadership" are plentily available in science, literature, economy, on conventions and symposia, the training industry, etc. - almost in abundance. "Rethinking", "lateral thinking", "different thinking ", and "new thinking" are being touted consistently. However, maybe the key to efficient leadership is not so much purely rational thinking and the accumulation of knowledge, but rather "feeling", "intuition", and having "the right touch" in terms of emotional intelligence and social competence? Maybe a combination of rational thinking, the feeling for the right moment, and reflecting on the own daily practise amount to the development of leadership skills. Maybe more hands-on experience is required rather than more theoretic knowledge.
Handling horses and the traditional art of horse riding provide exactly this: a world of experience for leadership. Possibly, helpful impulses for the development of fundamental leadership qualities for a future leadership elite, can be found in our past - in the form of a forgotten treasure of our society.
Regaining consciousness of our cultural heritage and traditional wisdom lead to invigorating inspiration for a new and responsible-minded leading elite. This is my deepest conviction and the reason for me to embark on this expeditionary project.