What do horses and business have in common?

By Andrea Sexton

I’d like to tell you a story about a very shy and quiet little girl.

At 9 years old I was quiet, shy but a pretty sweet kid (if I say so myself!). I’d had several operations on one of my ears which meant I’d missed school and didn’t have any very close friends. I don’t know what drew me to want to ride horses but there was definitely a pull and I was completely fascinated by them.

I was very lucky that my Granny took me to a riding school and I have to be honest and say I was completely petrified at first and I made poor Granny learn to ride as well. Most weeks I used to say to her “Nana I don’t think I will ride this week, I just want to brush the ponies” and of course I’d brush them for a bit and then gradually I would feel more like riding and I would enjoy myself.

Through riding I started to find a confidence that I’d never had before. Whilst I was at senior school I was lucky enough to have my own horse and my best day of the week was Wednesday as we finished early and I could go riding. My tutor knew that if she got me talking about horses that she could steer me onto the school subjects she needed me to talk about. If she had asked me her “real” questions straight away she would have had a very different response (in fact probably no response!).

During my late teens I became a much more confident person and I followed my love of equines to Bristol University to study Equine Science. Nowadays I love to speak in public and I am certain that my experience with horses and the way they built my confidence have had a profound impact on the way I am now.

Not only did horses help me with my confidence but they also gave me skills that I use every day in business.

I did quite well at equestrian competitions during my teens and I enjoyed the process of picking out the events I wanted to do and training my horse for them. This was my first taste of goal setting. It’s still a process I really enjoy (that might sound a bit odd!). I learned from a young age that often you set a goal and then something happens to make you have to change it and make a new plan. Now I run my own business I utilise my planning skills every day, and I enjoy that part of my day. As I have 3 small children and run a business it’s amazing how many times plans and goals have to be altered.

One of the other favourite things I learned from riding as a child was “Keep it simple stupid!” (KISS).

When I started riding I read a lot of books and studied the top riders. One of my hero’s then was Ginny Leng (now Ginny Elliot). Her trainer Dot Willis was famous for keeping everything very simple. Horses can’t cope with too much information and you have to be very clear. I am definitely that way in business and always try to keep things simple. It makes it easier to work and also makes the relationship with my clients much easier as well.

There is so much that sport has given me and I’m glad that I can share a few insights of my experiences with you. Now I have my own children I will certainly encourage them to find a sport that they love and to have fun with it. Sport will give them so much more than fitness, it will provide them with skills they will be able to use throughout their whole lives.

Andrea Sexton runs a PR company based in the UK. She specialises in sports, charity and event PR and Marketing and works with various individuals and companies from all over the world. When not working in her business or playing with her 3 children, Andrea enjoys running, reading and cooking.