Sunday, August 23, 2009

Horse Personalities

Years ago when I was a horse lover but not a horse owner, I didn't realize that horses could have such distinctive personalities. Oh, I'd grown up on Black Stallion books and any other horse books I could get my hands on. Truthfully, though, I don't recall that The Black had that much of a personality, at least not those little quirks that make a character in a book, animal or human, more real.

I rode my friend's horses every chance I could get. They had so many horses that you never really got to know one particular animal. My first horse didn't seem to have much of a personality either. She was just a stubborn, spoiled horse and incredibly barn sour.

It wasn't until my 2nd or 3rd horse that I began to see how different individual horses were, not just in how easy or hard they are to ride, but in how they approach their world. Certain characteristics were consistent across breeds, but of course didn't always hold true.

I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise to me that horses were so unique in their personalities. But it did.

My old horse, Moses, was a great guy. He went with the flow and didn't make much of a wave while in pursuit of not working too hard. You could do anything with him, though not exactly well. He checked out every person who ever got on his back and treated them according to his assessment of their riding skills.

Then I bought my current horse, and once again, I was caught off gaurd. Not only was she a mare, but she was my first warmblood. People warned me that warmbloods were different, but I didn't really believe it.

They are different in how they react to their environments (at least my mare is). The first thing that struck me about her was how she handled a scary situation. Instead of jumping sideways, whirling around, and getting the heck out of Dodge, she'd stop dead. Then she'd get down really low like a cutting horse. That alone on a 17-1 hand tank of a horse seemed incredible. She got down so low, I could have stepped off of her. Then very slowed she'd rise to her full height and even higher. As if she was standing on tiptoes. Then she'd stalk toward the offending object with great purpose and false bravado, snorting all the way.

I'd never had a horse do that before. Then there was the problem with loading in the trailer. I've mentioned this in detail in another blog post so I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say my mare would rather die than go into that trailer. Nothing was changing her mind. I'd never dealt with such a stubborn animal.

Of course, she has a sweet side. The side that charms everyone who meets her as she bats her big brown eyes and begs for treats. She's loaded with personality and quirks. I think that's what makes me love her so much. She's unlike any horse I've ever encountered. I suspect its a combination of warmblood and mare. Yet, I've never had a mare that was like this.

Now I enjoy getting to know the different personalities and quirks of the individual horses around the barn. I'd love to hear about your favorite horse personality.

1 comment:

Natalie Keller Reinert said...

Working for many years in huge stables, horses were just horses. Some were more annoying than others.

Now, having multiple horses of my own allows me to really delve deep into their different personality types and see how each one reacts differently to training or stimulus.

I have the desperately seeking a leader type: "Save me mummy!", the look-the-other-way-when-I'm-coming type: "I don't need you. Except for grain." And of course a real hybrid personality with elements of both and issues all her own.

There is an excellent, if misnamed, book called "Ride the Right Horse" which helps put labels on some of the equine personalities. I was surprised by how spot-on it was in places.