Growing up near ranches in Texas, Joe Esparza has spent most of his life around horses. But it wasn't until after a career as a corporate trainer that he realized he could use horses in his profession.
In 2001, Esparza established Leadership Outfitters on a 320-acre ranch in Bozeman, Mont., where horses are used to coach executives on how to relate and communicate. “We focus on building emotional intelligence,” he says. One exercise places an executive in a pen with a horse where he has to “connect” with the horse, using his intuition.
Horses react to humans based on the energy they give off, and they won't go near those who are stressed out, irritated, or nervous. Esparza coaches people on how to adapt their physical and mental approach to the equine. Too often, in that moment of stress when executives should shift their behavior, they don't. Why? “Because they can't. Logic doesn't help them shift their behavior.”