We Are In This Together
Hi. My name is Beth Hyjek, I am one of the co-founders of TeachingHorse, LLC. TeachingHorse is a leadership development company that offers virtual and in-person experiences with horses. Our approach to leadership development is inspired by how horses lead their herds.
The draw that often brings people to TeachingHorse is discovering how horses share leadership and collaborate to move through uncertainty. However, they are often surprised to learn that gender roles are a social construct that do not exist the same way outside of human culture.
All the horses contribute to the health, harmony, and unity of the herd. Equality is not an issue. There is no preassigned narrative or expectation to what role a horse will play. What horses do so exquisitely is take on the role that is in the best interest of the whole herd in the present moment.
One of my fondest memories of watching horses share leadership is when we started the weaning process between our mare, Yani, and her foal, Grace. We had only two other herd members at that time, Harley, Yani’s “main squeeze” and Rocky, the loveable but cantankerous “grandpa” of the herd. When you wean a foal from its mother, they must be in separate locations. We knew that Yani would be best served during this process to be with Harley. However, we didn’t expect how beautifully Rocky would step into his role as the primary caregiver of Grace. Through our “human lens” including the biases of gender, we had doubts of how Rocky would respond to this new role. Rocky never balked at the request, no muttering under his breath that this is “women’s work,” no bruised ego…Rocky stepped right in and took Grace under his “wing” and started teaching her how to be a part of a herd.
Interestingly, what was equally fascinating was the “conversation” between Yani and Rocky when they all came back together as a herd. Yani charged into the pasture to reassert herself as Grace’s mom, and Rocky placed himself in between Grace and Yani as if to say, “Now, hold up, this is my baby too.” Over a few days, Yani and Rocky worked out how they would individually and collectively contribute to Grace’s nurturing and harmony was restored.
Horses do not cling to “titles” or “expertise” or even the “plot of land” they are standing on; to do so would be a waste of the herd’s energy and would comprise their well-being. The willingness to go to where you are needed makes a herd agile, adaptable, and resilient. We, as a human species, are searching for ways to find agility, adaptability, and resilience in the new normal. The wisdom we need is here and horses are the perfect teachers.
Beth Hyjek’s background is in writing for the stage and screen. She holds a MFA from St. Mary’s College of California and a BFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Beth brings her passion for narratives to her work with TeachingHorse by creating experiences with the horses where people can identify stories that are no longer serving them and start to explore new stories that expand their leadership possibilities.