Friday, June 12, 2015

"Horses and Personalities"

Howdy Friends, 

Horses and personalities, or people and their horse’s personalities. How about people misunderstanding their horse’s personalities. Perhaps, sometimes people are reluctant to believe horses have personalities, or they believe they can change them. Could you change yours? 
Sure we can change our habits, approach to situations, even our talents and concerns. We can improve our skills, and our horse’s skills, change their habits and concerns too ... but what about personality?

Merriam Webster defines Personality as, “the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual, especially in relationships with others: And the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional tendencies ... Interesting, “totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional tendencies.” What does that mean? And are horses, like people, destined to have their own unique personality, and how does their “behavioral and emotional tendencies” affect our relationship?

I submit understanding that horses, and all animals, do indeed possess distinctly their own personalities, and endeavoring to understand them would make partnering easier, for both human and horse. Sadly many times folks looking for a horse eagerly fall in love with a horse the see as pretty, flashy, beautiful or any other adjective that suits their vision of a horse, when what they should consider paramount is a horse’s personality. I believe it is wise to choose a horse to fall in love with who has a personality or, “behavioral and emotional tendencies” compatible to their own.

Personalities tend to govern actions, reactions and habits more than education or training. At the least personality will govern the way a horse, or human, sees, understands and accepts or rejects education and training. So indeed I think it most beneficial to choose a horse whose personality matches your own. Too late, you say, you already have your horse and you don’t think your personalities mesh. Not the end of the beautiful relationship, if you recognize that, you both can build on it.

Much has been written about the different personalities in human’s, and horses, and how to understand them. It has even often been scribed how to navigate the waters of unblended personalities. I believe it is most important to understand, personalities are rooted in the horse’s genes, and neither you nor any trainer will change a personality. The job then is to understand it, and build on it, and not to confront, challenge or struggle with it. Embrace it, welcome it and polish it.

How does understanding your horse’s personality help? If attention is given to the core personality then it can be used as a blueprint for all you do together. It is the human who must adjust their habits to fit in the cogs of the drive-wheel of their horse, not the other way around. Once an understanding is gained of the idiosyncrasies of the horse, every action and interaction can be formulated in a way that makes complete sense to the horse, and all activities done together will take on a new shine, a new completeness, a new perfection.

For instance, my mare Kessy. She does not like to be approached head on, she’ll pin her ears and walk away. However when I finally understood that, I learned, or she taught me, if I approach part way and stop, she’ll come to me, ears up and smiling. She may pause a second or three, but she’ll always meet me.

Some horses welcome commands, and respond well; in fact the act of giving them a command gives them a sense of boundary, security, even safety. Other horses, like my Kessy, revolt at the mere attempt to “give” a command. She responds respectfully and willingly to a gentle request.

I’d like to end with another thought for consideration. Spooking, fidgeting and behaviors of those kinds are not truly personality traits in my mind. They are indeed behavior traits, learned and held onto, because their human has not yet discovered the horse’s underlying personality, and therefore is not quite able to communicate with the horse in a way the horse can clearly understand. The spooky, fidgety displays are merely demonstrations of lack of confidence born of constant corrections because requests, or commands, are not understood. It’s like speaking French to me, I would not understand so I’d offer wrong responses. That’s what happens to the horse. But once the personality of the horse is understood by the person, both can speak the same language and things like spooky and fidget will go away. The horse, and human, will gain buckets of confidence, born of an understanding of personality, and the language it speaks. 

P.S. If you've not yet had a look at my book, "It's For The Horses" please have a look HERE on Amazon  Or visit 

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, June 8, 2015

Motivational Monday – "The Value Of Virtue"

Howdy Friends,
What is virtue? Webster defines virtue as morally good behavior or character: a good and moral quality: a commendable quality or trait: the good result that comes from something.
Benjamin Franklin had a list of 12 virtue references to gage himself and his own actions. These guidelines ranged from temperance, frugality, sincerity, justice, to humility.

Many religions speak of virtue as love, honor, trust, morality, truthfulness, and respect in perhaps dozens of different ways and guidelines, but at the root of all of them is perhaps the most grounding idea, can we say morality, or does that create a whole new area of conversation needed?
The word virtue come from the Latin word, “virtus” which again refers to self control, prudence, and courage, among other things defining a good Roman citizen.

William J. Bennett compiled a book of short stories from all times, lands and countries titled, The Book of Virtues, A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. Stories about responsibility, courage, compassion, honesty, friendship, persistence, hard work, self discipline and faith, he chose as examples that might shape young minds. In the introduction Mr. Bennett says, “Today we speak of values as things we should possess like beads on a string—these stories speak of morality and virtue not as possessions but as something to be, the most important thing to be.” I have read from this book when working with at-risk youths, or when reading to school children.

Can virtue, the value of virtue, serve not only as a root for good Roman citizens, American citizens, citizens of the world, but also as a motivator in an individual’s life? Can striving to be of good virtue propel someone to try harder, chase their dreams, and overcome shackling hardships? Will a solid base of morality provide within an individual the courage it takes to pick themselves up after a stumble? Surely it can, and will.

Virtues can and will motivate, strengthen and even build up troubled hearts, struggling self respect and even lighten sad hearts. That is there power.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

P.S. If you've not yet had a look at my book, "It's For The Horses" please have a look HERE on Amazon  Or have a look at