Our horses’ personalities are what make them special and unique. Personality can be a combination of upbringing, living environment and training, but sometimes other events in their lives can change their natures for better or for worse. It’s great for you as a rider or horse owner to understand your horse’s personality and quirks so that you can best accommodate or improve his habits. Personalities can also give you an idea of what sort of discipline your horse is suited to so that you can set realistic goals and know what to expect.
The quiet horse
Quiet horses are generally uncomplicated and not the type to go causing trouble. They aren’t necessarily interactive and they tend to do their own thing. Quiet horses are not dominant in herd arrangements and they might choose to graze slightly separately from the group. They are not easily spooked so they are quite reliable and safe to ride. Quiet horses are suitable for nervous riders and children who are looking for an uncomplicated and easy-going ride. They are suited to quieter disciplines such as dressage.
The nervous horse
Before assessing the nervous horse, keep in mind that all horses are herd animals by nature, which means that they see themselves as prey. The nervous horse is a horse who lacks confidence and spooks at anything unfamiliar. They are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and may choose to flee from their fears in some cases. There are, of course, degrees of nervousness. Some horses will spook at jump fillers and blowing packets, whereas the more nervous horse will be afraid of his own shadow and colourful flowers. There are ways to desensitise your horse by carefully exposing him as much as possible to what he is afraid of.
The interested horse
Interested horses are inquisitive and eager to investigate anything new and exciting. This can reflect in their lifestyle as well as their ridden work. Interested horses are the types to always be looking out the stable door and sniffing new objects. They are nice riding horses because they pay attention to the rider, however, they can be easily distracted by other things happening outside the arena. They are mentally stimulated by new challenges, so it is important for the rider of an interested horse to keep their routine varied so that they don’t get bored.
The stubborn horse
A stubborn horse should never be confused with a naughty horse. While most people don’t like to admit it, stubbornness often originates from a bad horse-and-rider relationship. It has to do with their upbringing and how people have managed them, especially in the early stages of their lives. A bad experience can easily sway a horse’s trust in people for the worst. They can be resentful of people and this can be demonstrated by an unwillingness to be caught from the paddock and a negative attitude towards work. Their moods usually worsen when pushed.
The treacherous horse
The treacherous horse takes the stubborn horse to the next level. They can be extremely opposed towards human handling, which can result in dangerous behaviour. They tend to be a handful and might try to bite or kick people in their space. Similarly to the stubborn horse, these problems are usually rooted in human fault. They might not have been handled properly or they might have been neglected or abused.
The confident horse
The confident horse has a strong sense of pride. These are the types of horses who open the paddock gate and lead the herd on a wild gallop around the yard. These horses are not easily unsettled and they have a positive attitude toward taking on new challenges. They are energetic and brave performers so they are suited to competitive and more adventurous disciplines, such as eventing and endurance. The confident horse will suit a daring rider who will challenge them. They are not ‘push-button’ rides and they will put you to the test as well. Confident horses need an equally confident rider so they will not suit nervous or beginner riders who they can take advantage of.
A crowd favourite, these horses are friendly, eager to please and easy-going. They are great confidence boosters because they will try their hardest to make their rider happy. They don’t like to upset their rider and they seem to know when they’ve done wrong. They are interactive with people and they love attention. People-pleasers are straight-forward, uncomplicated and suited to most disciplines. They also succeed as therapy horses because of their gentle and caring natures.
Text: Charlotte Bastiaanse