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Four ways that being around horses prepares you for virtual meetings

The Covid-19 lockdown has thrown us all into a world where we conduct all our work meetings – and lots of social ones too – remotely. We’ve all had to learn a new etiquette to do this effectively, but it turns out, us riders have an advantage when it comes to picking up the best way to navigate virtual meetings. Who knew?

Read on to find out four ways being around horses prepares you for virtual meetings…

1. You are accustomed to picking up and giving non-verbal cues. We all know the person who insists on saying “yes” to acknowledge they have heard or a disagreeing “no” is a menace in a virtual meeting – the mic moves across to them, cutting out the speaker, and everyone misses the next 10 seconds as the sound catches up again. But as horse riders, we are used to non-verbal communication. So we found it easy to adjust – we just smile and nod when we want to acknowledge something or look a bit anxious when it sounds worrying. It’s just the same as using nice soft body language to show your horse everything is ok or using the reins and body to slow down because there’s something that needs attention…

2. You are familiar with taking it in turns. It’s tedious, but sometimes, there’s no other way to conduct a video meeting than by each person expressing their view in turn. You know, just like you do in a group lesson when everyone has a go at the jumps in turn… we’ve got this. Remember, don’t be greedy and do extra jumps/talking and never start jumping/talking before the person before you has finished.

3. You are used to being embarrassed. Whether it’s your five-year-old popping in to tell you about her latest toilet trip, an X-rated book in the background of your picture or the fact you hadn’t quite got dressed because you didn’t realise video was essential for this session, virtual meetings offer numerous opportunities to embarrass yourself. But that’s nothing unusual for us riders. Horses are always finding ways to embarrass us, from peeing when you halt in a dressage test to throwing themselves in the mud when you don’t have time to bath them before a lesson or dumping you in front of a new partner you want to impress.

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4. You are well practised at speaking slowly and clearly. We’ve found that years of saying soothingly “Waaaaalk” when lungeing has fitted us well for the steady pace required when speaking on a virtual meeting. Just try to avoid the slightly more panicked tone you adopt when you see your horse eating something he shouldn’t or destroying a fence…

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