Horsenality Reading Horses
Do your know your horse's Horsenality?
In the Parelli Programme, the term Horsenality is used to divide the range of equine personalities into coherent categories. Just like us humans, horses also have different personalities and needs, and in order to have long-term success with your horse it is essential that you first learn how to "read" him, i.e., to understand what he is trying to communicate to you.
Horsenality is a combination of the words "horse" and "personality". Pat and Linda Parelli used this philosophy to create an easy method for integrating equine psychology into the Parelli educational programme, because in order to be the perfect partners for our horses, we must first learn to understand them better.
The Horsenality System allows you to quickly and easily identify a horse's individual personality.
It will help you get to know your horse's character traits, temperament, and personal strategy, and this in turn will help you to plan your training and better adapt it to your horse's needs.
You may now be asking yourself why this is so important – aren't all horses alike? Well, can you imagine how helpful it might be to know whether your horse tends to be the confident – or fearful – type? Is he extroverted or introverted? Does he find more motivation from a treat, or perhaps simply from being given a short rest? Does he have the personality befitting a certain discipline – say, show jumping, or is he an anxious jumper, rushing fences as if his life depended on it?
This knowledge will fundamentally change your attitude and your behaviour towards your horse and can be your personal key to success. It will determine whether you really achieve a genuine partnership with your horse or whether the two of you engage in a life-long fight with each other.
Left brain and right brain
To assess your horse's Horsenality, first determine whether he is "left-brained" or "right-brained":
- Left brain horses are confident, courageous, dominant, trusting, composed, and tolerant.
- Right brain horses in contrast are reticent, anxious, compliant, mistrustful, and prone to overreactions.
Introverted and extroverted
Now let's assess whether your horse is more dominant or more reticent:
- Introverted horses are not naturally prone to having a lot of "go" (except when they're panicking); they move slowly and have a tendency to stop.
- Extroverted horses in contrast have lots of energy and are always moving about; they are quick and like to run.
These traits combine to make four equine personalities, or Horsenalities:
Left Brain EXTROVERT
This horse has a very playful character and needs lots of variety. He learns quickly, which means he also gets bored easily and so starts to develop his own ideas about things.
Left Brain INTROVERT
Welcome to the world of "Why should I do that for you? What's in it for me?" These horses can read their humans like an open book. A Left Brain Introvert knows exactly what he wants and is not willing to do something for you unless you reward him accordingly for his efforts. Although such a horse may seem lazy at first glance, his brain is definitely not. He may move slowly, but that allows him to think faster!
Right Brain EXTROVERT
This horse needs your constant assurance that he won't die. He tends to become confused and fearful quickly, so it's important that things be made as simple as possible. This helps him to relax and not feel constantly overwhelmed.
Right BRAIN INTROVERT
This horse is shy, quiet and very cautious. He avoids any kind of pressure by withdrawing back into his shell. It's therefore important that you do things very slowly, repeat then often, and give him time to think it over. As soon as he feels confident, he will begin to give more on his own.