Leadership and Riding Horses

By | October 16, 2021

[October 16, 2021]  Growing up in the Deep South during the 1950s and 60s gave me a curious outlook on what it was like to be an adult.  One of those experiences involved riding horses and riding them bareback; is there any other way?  If you wanted to be a “man,” then you did things like riding bareback, avoiding girls with cooties, scrounging good junk at the town landfill, and cleaning up your neighbor’s yard.

I was too young to be riding a horse.  But in those days, the only training you got before getting on a horse was to “hold on tight.”  On my first attempt, I fell off from my lack of balance, nothing to do with the horse who didn’t even move.  Once I said “giddy up,” things went downhill from there.

That riding experience did teach me a few things about horses.  I will never forget them.  First, horses have personalities and can remember you.  So don’t treat them poorly.  And, never let them be the boss; you will pay the price later for that failure.  Second, a horse’s teeth take up more space in their head than their brains, but they are not stupid.  See the first item.  And, third, horses are herd animals and like being around other horses.  I learned these the hard way.

My horse, which a friend had stabled near our home, was named “Rebel.”  I had not the slightest clue the name might be descriptive of his personality.  “Giddy up,” I called out in my most high-pitched voice (being nervous), and away we went at the trot, then to a full gallop.  At least, that is what it seemed like to me.  The trees were passing by quickly, and my friends were far behind; I leaned left (or was it right?) and promptly hit the ground with a thud.

Fortunately, nothing was broken; I checked as I dusted myself off.  The horse continued into a farmer’s field of cotton to be found hours later.  All my friends were with me in a few minutes, patting me on the back and saying how thrilled they were that I “rode that horse like a jockey.”  Exaggeration for sure, but I smiled and said, “I can ride.”

Pure dumb luck is what kept me from getting killed.  The horse, Rebel, was put down a year later after stomping a man to death.  Rebel was a beautiful sight.  All black, sleek, and full of energy.  I wanted to impress my friends that day, and maybe I did.  I remember us all talking about the ride with my grade-school teacher.  She said I shouldn’t be riding horses (or using a BB gun).  That was my last ride until sixty years later.

I’m now learning about horses and the mental and emotional benefits of riding horses.  I find riding relaxing and mentally stimulating.  I have a bond with a horse named “Garfield.”  We know each other, and there is some mutual respect.  Riding horses has helped me be more than I would have ever thought.1


  1. https://www.theleadermaker.com/finding-good-leaders-everywhere/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

14 thoughts on “Leadership and Riding Horses

  1. Rev. Michael Cain

    An entertaining and fun website we have under Gen. Satterfield’s tutelage. This is just one of the reasons I’m a regular reader of his leadership blog and why I also write. I use this site occassionally to push some of my ideas and to get regular feedback ….. polite and useful feedback. Thanks all for being part of a leadership family.

    1. Melissa Jackson

      Yeah! Did Gen. S. ever ride a camel while he was over in Iraq and the Middle East? Now that would be a truly great story to write about. I rode as a kid too and fell off just like every other kid did. Saddles? None of us had saddles because that cost money and we didn’t have any money to spend on extravagant items like that. I would be in rare form just to have a quarter. Growing up right sometimes means growing up without anything but good experiences.

  2. Tom Bushmaster

    Yes, and thanks Gen. Doug Satterfield for again supplying us with a mix of fun and education. That is what really good leadership is about. Motivating others to do something that they would not ordinarily do. Like riding a horse bareback. You must have been a nutty kid.

  3. Goalie for Cal State

    Another article to entertain and educate. Too bad kids today don’t have these same kind of experiences. We would rather put them in a protective coating and never send them out to have fun with their friends. And we put them in face diapers.

    1. Big Al

      Yeah, like when I see people driving their cars and alone and yet have their mask on. What’s up with that? Flexing their moral superiority?

  4. Max Foster

    For those not familiar with Gen. Satterfield’s mini-series on his childhood experiences, then do a search on his blog under “leadership and” you will get to many of these that he wrote over the past few years. I amazes but educates. These articles tell a story of how a leader of men (and women sometimes) emerged from the backwaters of the Deep South.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      I think Gen. Satterfield is originally from Texas. And, of course, I have a bias to Texas. “Don’t mess with Texas.” Has real meaning. Gen. S. has gotten a lot from our philosophy …..

        1. corralesdon

          Thank you Colleen for highlighting this Texas Governor’s website.


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