In 2006, within the Master of Arts Program at UI&U, Lissa Pohl studied how people embody leadership competencies and from that developed an equine-guided leadership education program where individuals receive immediate feedback on their leadership qualities through working with horses. Horses, as intelligent herd animals, are willing followers of people who successfully present themselves as leaders. As Pohl explains, “Collaborating with horses increases people’s awareness of kinesthetic intelligence and the effective use of body language. Working with horses can teach people how to effectively lead and manage by creating productive and collaborative relationships with others that are based on mutual respect, consistency, clear boundaries, integrity, intention and authenticity.”

Now Pohl regularly facilitates Herd Dynamics for Leaders workshops with both students and organizations through the Center for Leadership Development at the University of Kentucky. This year she is embarking on pioneering research into equine-guided leadership education through collaboration with UK Chandler Hospital. The research study will look at how interaction with the horses develops emotional intelligence in expert nurses.