Friday, September 4, 2009

Personalities Plus

Horses like people have all kinds of personalities. They get into funks, have good days and bad days and their memories are better than an elephants! They truly are amazing creatures.

In our barn we have a multitude of different personalities. I like to just go and hang out with the horses and study them, really watch their behavior.

In the main barn we have Hank. Hank is a gorgeous paint who is very sweet, yet cautious. I look in Hank's eyes and I watch him as he tries to figure out who and what he can trust in this world. He reminds me of a wounded child who really wants to do the right thing and awaits a cruel punishment if he should ever do anything out of line. Hank's choices were limited when he came to the barn. He was bought at auction for a mere sum and he could have easily wound up in the hands of the killers. Charros had owned him prior and by the visible scars on his sides and face, it is obvious he was badly abused. I didn't know him when he first came to the barn because we didn't yet have our horses there, but it is my understanding you couldn't stand on his right side, touch his nose, or aproach him in any way other than very slowly, and his fear of men was a major issue. However, through Terrie's (see our new eq ink member) patience and loving hand, in a few short years, Hank has been transformed. He loves a kiss on the nose, he allows you to stand on his right side, and he's even allowing some men to be around him (he actually let my husband give him a kiss on the nose recently!). This horse is an amazing success story as Terri is now doing dressage and jumping with him both in the arena and out on the cross country course. His personality is truly one of sweetness and light.

Next to Hank lives Pete. Pete is the king of the castle. We even call him His Royal Highness. He is now 21 years old and is a fantastic teacher for some of us lowly riders. In his prime Pete did fourth level dressage and competed in three day. He's just cool. You know when you walk up to someone and think, "Wow, he's just cool." That's Pete. It's like he's got in under control. He knows it and you know it. The other horses know it, too. He also has an expectation to be treated as the king that he is. He likes his cookies and lots of pats and reminders telling him how wonderful he is. Pete has earned the respect of the barn, and he deserves it.

Then we have Tahoe. Tahoe is a wonder pony. He's 26 now and is the pony club dude. I can't remember how many kids have ridden this pony for various ratings but it's A LOT. He kind of has this "I can do that," attitude. No pretention, no strange quirks. He's who he is and he's happy go lucky, does his job, and likes to hang out. He's like the kind of guy you'd want to hang with, have a beer and watch Sunday football because he's just a good friend type. You know you can always count on Tahoe--loyalty and friendship are his strong traits.

Across from Tahoe is Isis. Hmmm....what can I say about Isis? Okay, she is a tad neurotic, and maybe a little bit of a hypochondriac. For instance if you don't pay any attention to her and you're giving another horse attention, she sulks in the corner of the stall and actually has been known to feign colicking (no lie). She is a head bobber. When she's bored or anxious that head and neck look like she's bobbing for apples. But she is a very sweet girl, just really sensitive and if she were a human being I'd probably suggest a little counseling to help her get to know herself a bit better.

Then you have Krissy (my mare). Krissy is also kind of needy like Isis. She goes back and forth between needing you and then playing alpha mare. If she's out in the paddock with the pony she bosses him like nobody's business, but if he's not out there with her she's crying and having a fit. When she hears my voice, she nickers and paces until she spots me. She seems to understand that I am Mom, as she loves to be told how beautiful and special she is by me, and she loves to rub her face all over me. She lives next to Maxim whom she adores and whom in no way shape or form is she going to allow Isis to get close to, and she does not like Isis to get near me either. We are hers and hers alone. Ironically though, she has no problem with me getting near Maxim--her boyfriend. Now take Max down to the paddock where she can't see him and she is not a happy girl. That's my girl--a giver and a taker. Plus, she likes to share jokes with me--see photo.

Maxim is one I really don't quite have figured out yet. He's like the strong silent type until he's out in the arena or in a paddock where he can burn off energy and show off a bit. He doesn't come across as a bully or show off in his house but put him out with Tahoe and he makes sure the old boy knows he is the boss, and put a mare out there in the arena with him and he picks himself up and blows himself out as if to say, "Look at me, aren't I gorgeous!" I think he doesn't remember sometimes that he's been gelded.

Chief is a 16.2 hands baby. He just turned five and the best way I can describe Chief is he's like the little boy who has his hand in the cookie jar and his mom is staring at him, and scolding him for getting nto the cookies after she's told him not to, and Chief is standing there with his big, innocent brown eyes saying, "I don't know what you are talking about. I am not getting any cookies. I was counting them for you. I promise." I love this horse because he is super sweet, yet mischevious. His mischief makes him even more endearing.

Finally we have Monty. Monty is my daughter's pony. He really just wants to get it right. He's kind of spoiled (likes to bang the posts at dinner time--("Hurry up, feed me. Can't you see I'm starving!"), but he also understand his job is to take care of his kid and he does it very well. He loves his little girl. You can see it in his eyes when she's around him. Like Hank, he also has some war wounds from his past and he can be wary of men. He is a gentle soul who likes to be told he's loved and he's special. I adore this pony because he tries so hard and does his job so well that he has a very special place in my heart.

I gave a run down of the horses in our barn because I think they are all fascinating, wonderful horses and each one has something different to give and share with us. All we have to do is take some time out to watch and listen. And for me, just by paying attention to their behavior and treating them with love and respect, I have learned so much about life, love, and friendship.

I'd love to hear about your horse(s) and their personalities, their behavior and who they are and what they mean to you. Please share!

Have a wonderful holiday wekend and happy riding.



Gayle Carline said...

Well, there's my mare, Frostie - in her 900-lb teenage years, her favorite expression (if she could talk) was, "I got an idea! Let's run, 'K?" Now that she's older, she expects me to keep her safe from all perceived threats, which means I have to walk next to the new trash can to keep her from snorting at it. She also has a problem with shoes - they never feel as nice as they did in the store. She walks away from Monte sound and is lame two hours later.

Her son, Snoopy, is that kid who breaks his toys because he plays so rough. He's the loud boy, the one who is always in everyone else's space. He got in with the goats one day and amused himself by dragging them around by the tail. On the upside, he's a fabulous horse to ride - or was until he broke a hind sesamoid. He's recuperating nicely, if a little slowly, and I have high hopes of riding him again.

I also must mention one of the lesson horses, Lulu. She is a (semi) retired showhorse and thinks that lessons and horse camps are beneath her. If I put someone too green on her, she lets me know by trying to bite me everytime she walks by.


Leslie said...

I enjoyed reading about all the personalities, Michele! Much like the rundown of the stable where I used to work. So many different personalities! So many amusing antics, it's like having a classroom of different kids. We used to call the horses (there were fourteen) our kids! haha

My two boys, both geldings, well, I think they are spoiled in a sense. They've had good lives. They came from a farm where there eleven other Spotted Saddle Horses, all well cared for. Both boys have great personalities, though very different.

Bo (he's ten) can be bossy and grumpy, or sweet and loving. I think his mom was a boss mare because that's how he acts at times. But,he always defers to me. When he decides to push Spirit around, all I have to do is say his name, and he stops. He knows exactly what I mean! Kind of like when I was raising my two sons!

Spirit tends to be like the young kid (though he's seven now) who tries so hard to please. He wants so much to do right. And he tries really hard to stay out of Bo's way when Bo has a "grumpy" day.

I can tell, neither of these guys had been seriously mistreated in their previous lives. I know I was very fortunate to get these guys from such a caring owner.

When I read about Hank,I was thinking how sad it was for him. Those fear memories he must have to deal with constantly. But, he has a good life now!

It is so amazing to study the different personalities of horses, whether they're your own, or those at a stable. Always unique. Always different.