Fortune 500 companies like Google and Disney have paid more than $10,000 for horse whispering demonstrations for their employees. I visited a Wyoming ranch to find out what it's all about.
Katie Warren/Business Insider
- Diamond Cross Ranch is a 100-acre dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, owned by Grant and Jane Golliher.
- The ranch has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Google, Disney, and Toyota for corporate events that cost upwards of $10,000 and feature horse whispering demonstrations by Grant Golliher.
- I recently visited the ranch and got a private horse whispering demonstration from Grant, and despite my initial skepticism and confusion about what horse whispering actually was, by the end of it, I did understand why it's useful to business leaders.
- Horse whispering is a lesson in subtle communication, empathy, facing fears, and maintaining consistent boundaries, all of which can be applied to business and leadership.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming is full of ranches. But not all ranches bring in Fortune 500 companies who pay upwards of $10,000 to watch a cowboy tame a wild horse.
For more than 20 years, Jane and Grant Golliher of Diamond Cross Ranch in Moran, Wyoming, have been working with Fortune 500 companies like Google, Toyota, and Pfizer for corporate events that include evenings of ranch hospitality, dining - and horse whispering. These events, some of which take place at Diamond Cross Ranch and some elsewhere, start at $10,000 and are tailored for each group based on priorities, objectives, size, time, and other factors, the Gollihers told me.
Just last year, they threw an album listening party for Kanye West and hosted Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma and his family. At first, the horse whispering demonstrations were purely for entertainment. But to the Gollihers' surprise, attendees seemed to get much more out of the demonstrations than expected.
The clients started "telling us the message that they got," Jane told Business Insider. "Grant would do the demonstrations and often people would begin crying ..."
People started telling the Gollihers that lessons they'd learned from horse whispering are lessons that apply to business, leadership, and teamwork.
"I always said, it fits life. It's not just about training a horse," said Grant, who has been training horses professionally for 40 years.
On a recent trip to Jackson Hole, I visited Diamond Cross Ranch and got a private horse whispering demonstration from Grant. Here's what it was like.
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Diamond Cross Ranch is a 100-acre dude ranch in the scenic Jackson Hole valley in Wyoming.
Jane and Grant Golliher have run Diamond Cross Ranch together for more than 20 years.
On my recent visit to Diamond Cross Ranch, we started out in the barn, which the couple built in 2004 after deciding to pursue corporate events.
The demonstrations take place in a round arena set up on one side of the barn.
The horse Grant was working with was a three-year-old mare whose owner had never gotten around to training her. After she was let into the arena, she stayed on the far side from where I sat and where Grant stood. She seemed nervous and skittish.
Grant started out mounted on Freckles, a 25-year-old gelding. The first step was to make sure the mare was showing submission to Freckles, the dominant member of the ranch's herd.
For the first exercise with the horse, Grant laid down a rope on the ground that split the arena in half. His goal was to get the mare to stay on the "scary" side of the rope — the side closest to where I and two other people sat watching.
Once the horse had learned to stay on the right side of the rope, it was time for Grant to have his first physical contact with her.
Grant then dropped to his knees in front of the horse.
Grant then turned his face up to the horse.
Slowly, Grant stood up and reached out to stroke the horse with the back of his hand. Then he started scratching a particular spot on her chest where bugs tend to bite this time of year and the horses can't reach to scratch it.
Grant continued to pet the mare, and I was amazed at how relaxed the horse already seemed with him, as she had been skittish and evasive not too many minutes ago.
For no reason I could see, the mare suddenly got spooked and ran to the other side of the arena. Immediately, we went back to yelling and making noise while Grant waved the flag — applying pressure, as he calls it.
Grant approached the mare with a halter, which I was skeptical he'd be able to put on after that.
There were some tense parts of the demonstration, when it seemed the mare was not going to do what Grant wanted her to do.
Grant then brought out an orange tarp, first letting the mare smell it to make sure it wasn't anything scary.
Grant took it a step further by getting up on a bucket and leaning onto the horse's back to get her accustomed to having weight on her back.
Eventually, Grant had his entire upper body lying on the horse's back, even pushing himself up onto his tippy toes.
Grant likes reciting poetry during his demonstrations. He recited two poems for me, including one called "The Man in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow.
For the ranch's corporate events, Grant has started to evolve the horse whispering process from a demonstration to more of a collaboration.
By the end of the demonstration, which took a little over an hour, it seemed that if Grant would have continued working with the horse for another hour or so, he would be riding her.
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