Bluebird Lane Blog
Bluebird Lane Blog

What the Geese Can Teach Us About Success

by Lori Albrough

In my last article, I talked to Alice MacGillivray about how she went from horse newbie to successfully participating in riding a scored USDF Training Level test with her Fjord mare, Bocina. One factor that stood out for me in talking to Alice, was the role that the support and encouragement of her Gabriola Horse Group community played in helping Alice get to that point.

In today’s individual-oriented culture, it’s easy to look at someone’s accomplishment and marvel at what they were able to achieve. But the truth is, if you get a chance to take a look behind the scenes of that success, you will most often find a group of people.

This is because of a phenomenon I call “group energy”. Group energy is the extra spirit or lift that comes into being when you have a collection of like-minded individuals getting together for a common goal or intention. This spirit gives velocity to all of it’s members.

Think of NASCAR, or the bicycle racing peloton, where each participant is being carried along by the air streams of the others. In these sports, the winning driver or rider is the one who can work with these drafts, being carried to the lead by the streams of the other cars or bikes. Often members of the winner’s own team chip in to make this happen.

But if you are like me and enjoy nature metaphors more than car or bicycle racing ones, then let’s talk geese…

Lessons from the Geese

This was originally written in 1972 by Dr Robert McNeish, a teacher from Baltimore, MD. Presented here with adaptations.

  1. As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

    Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can realize their dreams and goals easier and more quickly because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

  2. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front of it.

    Lesson: If we listen to our inner guidance, it tells us to stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

  3. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

    Lesson: You don’t always have to be the strong one. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each others’ skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

  4. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

    Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the success is both more profound and more gratifying. The power of encouragement (to stand by your goals AND cheer on the goals of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Even virtual groups, like being a member of Improve Your Ride, can be a source of group energy and have this uplifting effect. Even if you never meet the other members, I believe that each of us is creating a draft with our movement, and we are helping each other along.

Take a moment to think about how joining a local or virtual community of like-minded souls can assist you with your horsemanship goals, help you stay motivated, keep you on track, add to your fun, and how their support can make things a bit more effortless.



6 Responses to “What the Geese Can Teach Us About Success”

  1. Libby Edwards wrote:

    Here! Here!! Honk!!! Honk!!!!

  2. Toni wrote:


    I love the lesson that our “honks” should encourage. What a great article.


  3. daisy wrote:

    hi lori, great reference for the geese formation; i am really in need of an uplift and that really gives me insight to help myself and others; thank you so much, daisy

  4. Mo wrote:

    As a very new, athletically challenged rider it’s encouraging to hear that much more experienced riders face challenges too. Honk, honk!

  5. Wendy wrote:

    Just looking back at your posts for a little inspiration before tomorrows comp and enjoyed being honked at!! I don’t know if others find this, but what you post is exactly what I needed to read or had been thinking about when you up and post it!! The serendipitous – ness of this event amazes and delights me! Thanks lori, am going to bed to ride my tests tomorrow and will be concentrating on every transition, just to test you can you dream up what I’d like to hear your thoughts on next? Will let you know if you get it! Love your energy and your focus and your pretty ponies. We have haflingers here in Australia but I’ve never seen a fjord in the flesh! I didn’t ride today as it was 37 degrees celsius , which is too bloody hot! I’m so glad I got to tell you how much I love your blog, wendy

  6. Lori Albrough wrote:

    Hey Wendy – I hope you had good rides at your competition, and nailed all your transitions! Great feedback, thank you so much for that! My mantra when I sit down to write is to be “positive, personal, and practical”. Loved your comment, and don’t hesitate to suggest a topic for me to give my spin on 🙂

Leave a Comment