Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Personality Test

Today I went to the Pet Expo with my friend and her mom.  Jeanne's mom has spent a lot of time and energy learning about how horses learn and Natural Horsemanship.  As we were talking she began telling what she thought Buddy sounded like.  If you knew me, you'd know I love learning so I was understandably curious to learn more.  She gave me some information on Parelli and lent me a book called "Is Your Horse a Rock Star?" by Dessa Hockley

I have just finished reading this book (I'm a speedy reader) and doing the personality quiz for all three of my horses.  And I loved it!  It really makes sense.  I was able to accurately predict Whiskey and Buddy's personality types (I didn't realize there was a quiz until the end).  Roxy's was a little more tricky, in part because she's young, and in part because I haven't had her for a very long time.

According to Dessa Hockley, Whiskey is "The Worker Bee".  The Worker Bee's traits are Submissive, Energetic, Curious and Aloof.  "It is all about the job for this horse.  Hopefully they find one that they love, as then they can be that steady, consistent campaigner that everyone wants.  In the beginning they may have trouble focusing and learning their trade.  Once they learn it, they will perform it the same for every subsequent owner.  They bore easily and like variety in their work.  This is a great working horse, but he will likely have too much energy to be the weekend pleasure mount." From Is Your Horse a Rock Star? Understanding Your Horse's Personality  by Dessa Hockley.  This fits Whiskey to a tee.  I've always known she needed a job.  She likes to work and I spend at least half of each riding session wearing her down.  The problem being with Whiskey is her job was supposed to be a head horse.  But I haven't roped in years and haven't settled on anything I liked.  So I'm now super focused on finding my worker bee an appropriate job.  Something she enjoys.  

Likewise I was not surprised to find out Buddy's a "Macho Man".  The Macho Man is Dominant, Energetic, Curious and Aloof.  From Dessa Hockley's book " If you have a serious job to do, this is the horse for it.  You will have to get out of the way and allow them some freedom in how they do it.  Sit down, shut up, and hold on! It is initially hard to get them to accept that you do know what you are talking about, so training in the beginning can be challenging.  Use psychology and variety and start them into their career at a very early age."  Of all my horses, Buddy tested the most extreme, meaning his scores were high and low, not balanced.  Again, the personality type fits the horse.  Most days Buddy is the bain of my existence.  He literally makes me crazy.  (Incidentally as a Type A, high energy type I'm not an ideal match for this horse.)  As I have been pondering which direction to take him I believe he's going to need to do something like working cow horse.  Something he'll feel he can play with and be challenged by.

Roxy was harder to assess.  I had thought she'd be a "Prize Fighter" but according to the quiz she's "A Wall Flower".  Keep in mind she's still very much a baby and out of the four areas, two sections were one point off and one section was a tie.  So I'm definitely going to reassess her when she's older.  The "Wall Flower" is Submissive, Lazy, Afraid and Friendly.  Dessa Hockley writes "Wrap these sweet, kind, gentle horses up and keep them safe.  They are not very brave and tend to internalize their worries.  They want to please and will try very hard for you, but they can be pushed too fast very easily.  They make few demands of you and are quite content to perform the same tasks repeatedly as long as you are pleased with them and the jobs are not too strenuous.  The can be quiet enough for the beginner once they understand what is expected of them."  So perhaps the change and pace of cutting won't suit her, perhaps she'll work better as a reining horse.  But then again maybe some of the other traits will become more dominant as she ages and as I get to know her better.

Being thoroughly fascinated with this I read the Parelli stuff sent with me.  According to Linda Parelli Buddy is a "Left Brain Extrovert" meaning "This horse is a playful character that needs interesting things to do.  He's obsessed with learning and needs variety and new things to keep it fun."  Buddy's personality jumped out at me, based on the Parelli information Whiskey and Roxy are harder to place and I need to think about it some more.

To me, the understanding that horses have different personalities and need different training methodologies makes perfect sense.  I loved seeing my horses pop out from the pages of the book and highly recommend Dessa's book.  

1 comment:

The Canadian said...

So fun to see that animals do indeed have personalities!!! Adorable! I had a great time visiting with you this weekend!
J