Herd Mentality, Leadership and “Followership”

Herd Mentality, Leadership and “Followership”

January 21st, 2013

Please enjoy this 3 minute video of a 700 horse herd being driven down mainstreet of a small town.

It’s said that “If you think you’re a leader, turn around and see if anybody’s following.”

Beyond the fact that this is just a beautiful spectacle and I want to figure out how to make sound track of their hooves my ringtone, there is so much to be learned here.

We talk a lot about Herd Mentality, Leadership and the responsibilities of the horse that go;

Act like a Partner
Mantain Gait
Maintain Direction
Look where you’re going.

But who really knows what that means or what that should look like.  Well, here it is.  700 horses relaxed, calm, confident, and very content to maintain gait, maintain direction and look where they’re going until they’re told differently.  It occurs to me regularly that we are focused on learning what leadership looks like, but most of us have never really seen what “Followership” looks like (and yup, that’s a new Toddism)

Do you have trouble with your Circle Game?  Does your horse break gait or hang on the line or collapse the circle, change direction, quit behind you, cause you to work harder than him, or does he hang from the rafters?  Can you trot or canter freestyle four full laps of the arena with your arms folded and no more than one correction per lap?

If you answered yes to any of the first question and/or no to the second, odds are you don’t have a technique problem (though good better and better best never goes away) but you may have a respect issue and more specifically a work ethic challenge.

We like to say “When it becomes important to you it will become important to them.”

If you’ve been stuck in a level – especially 2 – for more than a couple months, I would suggest taking a real serious look at your circle game both online and mounted, and if you are playing in Level 3, then by all means at Liberty in a round corral.  Watch the video again and ask yourself if you’re getting the eyes and ears that these 700 horses are giving.  If not there is still a leadership problem and a big part of your horse’s mental energy is being put into figuring out how to do other than what he’s being asked.  When his mental energy comes back from the big bad world out there and settles squarely on you as his leader, you will all of the sudden see those eyes.  They’re relaxed but completely focused on maintaining gait, maintaining direction and looking where they’re going.

When as a leader you begin to realize how natural a state of followership this is for your horse, how deeply necessary it is to his nature, and how he craves the leader that can let him get here, you will be on to path to your dreams – and so will your horse.


Keep it Natural,




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