While our horse farm tour guide was unable to enlighten me about the impetus for Kentucky’s horse dominance, he was able to shed light on why all of the farms featured curved fences.

It is striking that none of the paddocks have right angles on their fence lines. I knew there had to be a reason why. And there is: the older horses like to exert their dominance on the younger horses that are in their grazing area. If there were square corners, the larger horse would trap the younger one there and could injure it, so rounded corners help the younger horse be able to run free. Think of it as the equine method of bully-prevention!

Horses also like to run along the fence line, and the curves direct them to keep going, rather than coming to a halt at the corner or running into the fence.


I think the curved fences are a great metaphor for what organizations can do when they intentionally control their environment. By setting up helpful parameters, organizations can shape the culture and prevent problems from happening. 

Think about the curves you can add in your environment. Can you provide clear guidelines or expectations that keep new employees from being trapped by unknown norms? Do you provide interaction spaces so employees can have informal time together instead only having meeting spaces where senior employees tend to dominate? Perhaps you could add a mentoring program to help more junior employees learn how to navigate the boundaries?

It may take more effort to build a curved fence, but as the horse owners have learned, it saves many issues from occurring in the future. Think of how you can remove some of the known barriers that could trap your newest members.

beth triplett

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