Nova now offers an equine based management training program that encompasses the same high quality performance management training you are accustomed to in a new environment. The training is held in an indoor or outdoor arena, (weather dependent) using as learning partners, horses. The topics are all about people management and team building, the venue is very different.  For outlines on this topic please go to Topics  

An article of interest about this process.

American Paint Horse Journal, July 2003.
A Change Of Venue
Christine Pohlkamp uses Paints and the arena to teach people-management skills.
By Paul A. Canada

"I admit it," confessed Christine Pohlkamp. I like change.”
Christine Pohlkamp with Mekeezun CueDeeBarHemp, her 1996 Black and white overo mare.

It was the need for change that motivated Pohlkamp, the founder of Nova Training and Consulting in Ontario, Canada, to conceive and design an equine-based management- training program.

" I used the same training method for 10 years and was getting bored with it," explained Pohlkamp. "I was looking for an innovative way to provide similar training. One day it hit me: why not use horses to deliver the same message?" In Pohlkamp's unique program, horses become "learning partners" with workshop participants and the arena is their classroom. More importantly, the equine-based training provides participants with an opportunity to learn through experience. While the workshop topics are familiar people management, goal setting and team-building the venue is different.

"The understanding and retention of training is heightened when the trainee is allowed to personally experience it," said Pohlkamp. "The horse, arena and tack are foreign to most participants. Because it's all new, they can't rely on past experiences, prejudices or labels to interpret what they see."

According to Pohlkamp, the presumptuous nature of participants is quickly exposed during performance management exercises. For example, during one session participants are asked to describe the behaviour of both their employees and horses trotting around the arena. Lists of employee behaviours consist chiefly of labels, such as "lazy" and "dependable." Conversely, lists of horse behaviours accurately reflect what's observed.

"Participants quickly see they're labelling employees and not describing behaviour," said Pohlkamp. "They unfairly relate observed behaviour to what they think is the motivation or attitude of the employee. In the end, they begin to understand the importance of focusing on observed behaviour only."

During a goal-setting exercise, teams of participants are asked to saddle a horse without receiving instructions beforehand. Not being horse people, they fail the task.

After watching a demonstration on saddling a horse, the teams are asked to complete a task analysis and identify the specific steps required to saddle a horse. Only after completing the task analysis and dividing the task into manageable parts are the teams able to achieve their established goal. "Of course, the horses used in our equine- based workshops must be fairly bomb-proof;" explained Pohlkamp. "We specifically use trail horses because they're proven to be good around novices."

Despite the extra care given to selecting the right horses for the equine-based training, Pohlkamp occasionally finds it tough to sell the merits of the unconventional venue.

"Because most people are naturally apprehensive about working with horses," shared Pohlkamp, "it can be hard to sell. Typically, management is eager to try the program but employees are unwilling to participate."

Pohlkamp's friends weren't surprised by her unusual use of horses. She does little to hide her passion for horses and Paints specifically. The APHA lifetime member spends most of her free time riding and caring for her three horses- two of which are registered Paints.

Pohlkamp admitted to being partial to Paints. "Maybe it's because I am easily bored, but I like flashy horses with a lot of colour. No Paint Horse pattern is exactly the same as another. I believe they're the prettiest of all the breeds. "But, then, I am prejudiced."