Sunday, October 7, 2012

Horses Help Humans Learn How To Communicate With Others

Here is a story about Austin city workers, who are going to a program to work with horses, and learn how to communicate better with humans!  Horses are such amazing teachers and there is so much we can learn from them every day.  Please read this story, it is really cool!  ~Declan

Horses Teaching Austin City Workers Better Communication Skills?
By Jason Wheeler

For full story and video from KEYE-TV click Here

The city of Austin has a real estate department which handles all civic land transactions -- from the high dollar to the small change deals.

But one deal the department recently cut prompted an email to us from a former city employee, who asked “Where is the sanity in government”?  He detailed the real estate staff’s plans to go to the Travaasa Spa and Resort in the Hill Country, “To commune with horses”.

That sounded like something that might bear investigating, so we looked into it.  Turns out our own Hunter Ellis featured the equine program on Austin Live last year.  He talked to the trainer who runs the course who told him how horses sense verbal and non-verbal clues from people and react in a way that can help people refine their behaviors. It has become a popular training exercise with many private corporations and organizations. But is it appropriate for public employees funded by public money?

Even Lauraine Rizer, who holds the reins of the city’s real estate department, admits she was skeptical at first, “I said ‘hmm, I don’t know’.  So I can understand where people would be a little leery because I was.   I did the research and I went out there with myself and a staff member.”

Rizer spent a few hours, at no charge, in the ring with a horse that initially wouldn’t follow her.  She explained why, “What the horse does is mirror your behavior.  Then you see what your energy is doing in your non-verbal communication and you can change it but you have to recognize it first”.

During the exercise, Rizer says, she did change her behaviors.  She also changed her mind about the program when the animal finally followed, “I have been through a lot of different management techniques and academies and things and I have not had anything work in two hours…or really in my 20 minutes with the horse and I couldn’t believe how much I have learned about myself”.

She’s was convinced that the rest of her staff at the City of Austin Real Estate Office needed to do this.

“A lot of what we have to do is communication, both verbal and non-verbal communication, and we have to have a lot of training that reinforces that,” she says.

Rizer points out that the city regularly pays to train the real estate staff, for stuff like contract laws and real estate rules.  She says some of those more conventional sessions can cost as much as $500 per person.  By contrast, she says the horse training runs about $60 per person.

So even though it may look unorthodox, Rizer assures this training isn’t going to be a bunch of city employees horsing around on the public dime.  She expects a relatively small bill and large benefit to the city after staffers learn the secrets of the horse whisperer.  Rizer says the money for the exercise will come out of her department’s already established annual training budget of less than $12,000.

By Jason Wheeler

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