Christina Haxton poses with her horse, Jack. Haxton, who recently moved to Steamboat Springs, uses horses to teach professionals how to improve their work relationships.

Courtesy photo

Christina Haxton poses with her horse, Jack. Haxton, who recently moved to Steamboat Springs, uses horses to teach professionals how to improve their work relationships.

Workplace meets the West

Woman uses horses to improve participants' job relationships

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Past Event

Workshop: Introduction to HorseSense

  • Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Whispering Willows Ranch, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $20

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Past Event

Workshop: Attracting and keeping great employees

  • Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Rex's American Grill and Bar, 3190 S. Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $20

More

Past Event

Workshop: What you can learn from a horse about attracting and keeping great employees

  • Thursday, September 25, 2008, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Whispering Willows Ranch, Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / $259

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— Christina Haxton and her horse, Jack, want to teach you a lesson.

Haxton runs HorseSense Team Building, using equine animals to teach leadership skills for the workplace. The business is the sum of three elements of Haxton's life: management, counseling and horses. Haxton, a recent Steamboat Springs transplant, has planned three of next week's events in town.

"Horses are herd animals," Haxton said. "They follow. : If we study what followers follow, we know what leadership works."

Her first workshop Wednesday morning is an introduction to her methods and philosophy at Whispering Willows Ranch. The second, happening that afternoon, is a horseless presentation at Rex's American Grill & Bar. The third is an all-day session Thursday at Whispering Willows. No one has signed up for the workshops, so Haxton might cancel the third one.

Haxton has run the business for about nine years, after working in management and as a marriage and family therapist. She now runs HorseSense with a partner and donates 10 percent of the proceeds to charity, typically one that is horse-related.

Jack was an inspiration for the business.

"For the first five or six years of his life, I just wanted to get rid of him," she said. "He was just a pain in the butt. : If he doesn't have something productive to do, he's a handful. I realized that he needs a job, and it wasn't the job I had him doing."

Jack is a teacher, she said. Participants at workshops must get the horse to perform tasks without handling him.

"Whatever challenge they have at work, those show up in the arena," Haxton said. No riding is involved, and participants don't have to deal directly with the horse if they aren't comfortable doing so.

Haxton and her husband, Gordon, moved here from Conifer three weeks ago. Steamboat is a perfect headquarters because it combines corporate interests with Western ideals, she said. Haxton led a workshop at Saddle Mountain Ranch a few years ago.

Sandy Evans Hall, Chamber Resort Association executive vice president, said she sat on the sidelines for part of that session.

"I do remember that I think people really enjoyed it," Evans Hall said. "Everyone that was there seemed to be having a lot of fun with it. I know Christina's belief is that horses, : they're not easily fooled, so they give you a pretty direct reflection of how you come across."

The lessons of HorseSense don't fade, Haxton said.

"The whole thing offers them an experience at a cellular level, and they retain and use the information years later because they've learned it differently," Haxton said.

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234

or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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