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BLOG: Teambuilding at Hampton Court Palace

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 14:45

Need Team Building Ideas? The Hampton Court Palace events team are excited to announce their partnership with the Operation Centaur – an organisation to promote the relevance of horses as a contemporary working animal in partnership with humans.


Earlier this year we were invited to the stables, conveniently located in their back garden, to experience a morning with the regal shire horses and to see how these beautiful animals can be a calming and psychological influence on changing a team dynamic.

After a short walk to the stables, we had a safety introduction talk by the stable trainers about being around horses - prepped and ready, it was time to meet the horses for the first time!

We were not all experienced with being in close proximity to horses, nonetheless the first stage of team building was to pair up and get nearer to the horses as a way of thinking about what it felt like to be close to these powerful animals!

“You could not keep your eyes off the horses due to their sudden movements and you felt like they had control over your actions”.

You may think this is an odd exercise, but actually, after we reflected on the experience and the trainers helped us relate this back to personal characterises when working in our team.  It is worth remembering that these horses, at 17 hands and weighing in at a tonne each, are not your average co-worker!

Goals set, and formal introductions over, it was time to start the real work…

The first task - create a tunnel and get the horses to walk through it. Easy right? The twist -  only allowed to communicate before starting the task, once we had a plan it was silence all round!

“At first we thought this would be an easy task and we had it all under control, but the horses did not want to move! It took us up to four attempts to work through different strategies, from splitting up into smaller groups to finally working together and realising that the horses worked as a team (like us) and it was finding the leader of the two to direct!”

Having achieved our goal, we then were tasked to repeat the exercise, but this time we could not touch the horses. Movement was to be instructed by voice and arm gestures only. It was a long task of trial and error but eventually succeeded!

After a mind changing morning, we were all given the chance to reflect on our day by observing the horses, following their movements and enjoying the serenity of our surroundings.

Lessons learned….

  1. Welcome everyone into your team

  2. Be they equine or human

  3. You can always find common ground and a shared way of working.

If you want to know more come and enquire with us.