The Horse Connection, the relationship beyond the words between horses and humans: Two Dutch people are implementing in Romania an innovative authentic leadership program using horses

*By this leadership program, also active in Romania, 80 percent of the participating managers become leaders


The Actinote Company, which provides coaching and leadership programs, is implementing in Romania “The Horse Connection”, a 16 years old leadership program using horses, created by the international trainer and consultant Toine Kets and successfully implemented until now in countries like Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Germany, Serbia and Ukraine.

By using horses, which are animals with a boundless sensitivity, the initiators of the program give the opportunity to the participants at the program to experiment and learn the authenticity and honesty in leadership, as well as teamwork notions or notions about building the cohesion inside a team.

“Leaders are also managers, but managers are not always leaders. Classical leadership programs do not refer often to leadership, but to management. Horse Connection is based on a concept that experiences the power to break away from mental clichés: leadership doesn’t mean control, but freedom, it means to assume responsibility, to know how to listen people and to give an example. We are emotional beings, and the time of controlling emotions is gone. That’s where we’ve started from with Helga Meurs, the Dutch horse instructor who is accompanying me from the start in thus challenging project. Horses are used as our mirror, they help us to discover ourselves as a person, but also inside a team. The feedback provided by the participants is immediate, and people change later. The Horse Connection’s results can assess very accurately the participants’ performance after graduating the training: around 80 percent of them become leaders. The Horse Connection is an excellent approach for setting up the first steps in the pure leadership’s world, it is a daring training base helping companies to develop their vision and strategy”, stated Toine Kets, the Dutch who founded the Actinote Company in Romania, in 2007, and The Horse Connection program in 2010.

Horse Connection programs are distinguished by their effectiveness, participants achieving significant results in a short period of time, added Toine Kets.

We had the opportunity to experience Toine Kets’s assertions on Tuesday, together with several fellows journalists invited to a press tour at the Piccadilly Horses Club, located between the localities Saftica and Tancabesti. Namely, under the guidance masterfully provided by Helga, we could interact with horses and perform a series of individual and collective exercises. We could see how these animals having an uncommon intelligence and sensitivity, act like a mirror of human’s thoughts and feelings, being the best readers of the non-verbal language.

During the demonstration, none of us has ridden; we only interacted with horses in the arena, namely we participated together in exercises.

It was an interaction beyond the words, only at the level of the body language and of the power of will, horses acting disciplined at our firm attitudes, being stubborn to react at words or entreaties, as long as the attitude of the man with whom they interacted was sending contradictory signals, instead of signals of firmness and trust.

I admit, I was personally enchanted for good by Carmen, the splendid equine specimen, with whom two teams, each of them consisting in three participants, could quickly finish one of the most difficult exercises. Carmen has obeyed us quietly and obsequious, managing to go through poles without exceeding the frame delimited by separators for the exercise, which is why she was rewarded with carrots at the end of the demonstration.

We could see how horses react in the mirror towards firmness and confidence displayed by the person in the arena, more precisely to an attitude showing trust, concentration and patience, ignoring actions indicating indecision or any negative behavior.

Until today, Toine Kets had around 1,800 clients in Romania. The Horse Connection program was followed by approximately 300 persons from top companies operating on the local market. In total, 5,000 participants have followed Toine Kets’s leadership programs worldwide.

According to the initiators of the program, around 80 percent of the participants make the step from the manager status to the leader status, thanks to this innovative and efficient leadership program.

The Horse Connection particularly addresses to top and middle managers who wish to strengthen their leader status, as well as to the employees from the multinationals or other companies, who are interested in an original approach of the personal development. The Horse Connection also supports employees to be more self-confident and to have more confidence in others, too, inside the team.

The concept on which the program is based is to activate emotion and empathy, as well as to value them in order to develop the leadership skills of the participants. This program is different from the classical management tools due to the fact that the leaders are made to reflect on themselves, the results being transposed on their behavior and on the whole team’s behavior.

The training lasts 2 or 3 days, one of these days being dedicated to the effective work with horses. The workshop and the exercises are personalized for each client, who has to communicate his objectives to the trainers’ team. The groups of participants usually consists in 15 persons. Participants receive individual tasks in their interaction with the horse, which they have to lead without using horse riding elements, but only body language, the will and the strategy.

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