Harnessing change: business on the hoof

Zara Myers is something of a visionary. A horse lover with experience in management consultancy who realised that she could link the two.

Her family runs Bigland Hall, a popular horse riding centre nestling in the gentle hills above Haverthwaite in south Cumbria.

Zara Myers from Harness ChangeShe said: “I started working in the riding school but, to hone my business skills, spent time with Strategic Resource in Ambleside doing management consultancy work. It was something I found fascinating, learning how to develop people within a business.”

Her light bulb moment when she realised that horses – and specifically the way they respond to people – could be a valuable development tool.

She now runs Harness Change, based at Bigland Hall.

Zara explained: “Horses live in a herd and are incredibly instinctive to the body language and behaviours of the other members of their herd.

“They form strong connections with other horses and with the people around them. This makes them the perfect mirror to work with, as they instinctively understand and reflect your every thought and emotional state.

“We have developed a programme around improving a person’s self-awareness using three steps to help them achieve behavioural change.”

Harness Change’s workshops involve a facilitator, a handler and a horse. The facilitator analyses the horse’s behavioural reactions to each participant.

The way the client approaches the horse, their emotional state at the time, and the horse’s interaction with them, can display a lot about a person’s behavioural drivers including, Zara says, how they approach tasks, how they collaborate and work in a team, their self-perception, their resilience, their approach to problem solving and how they cope with stressful situations.

Harnessing Change

She added: “They can see what an animal’s natural response is to their behaviour, and how that behaviour can be an obstacle to achieving their goals.

“As facilitators, our job is to display to clients how this behaviour impacts them and others around them. This can help steer them to understanding the real-life effect of their behaviour and actions, for better and for worse.”

Harness Change logoIn the second stage, executive coaches help participants to pick interventions to develop behaviours and states of mind to achieve their objectives.

The final stage is revisiting the session with the horse to take the learnings from step two and put them into practice.

Zara said: “By practising self-identified behaviour changes throughout a variety of tasks, by the end of our sessions our clients will have started the journey to harness the change they want to make.”

Female readers get an early opportunity to try it out when the Chamber’s Cumbria Women in Business Network, sponsored by Baines Wilson LLP, hosts a networking event at Bigland Hall next Tuesday, September 26, from 1-5pm.

Zara said: “We will give them a coaching session on whatever they want to work on, be it presentation skills, problem solving and so on.”

The afternoon concludes with refreshments served in the marquee.

The delegate rate for the event is £20 plus VAT for Chamber members or £35 plus +VAT non-members. To book, click here.

For queries or further information email