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Horse Personalities

"Maggie Mieske" <>  wrote:

in ANY breed, in MOST cases, the PEOPLE make the horse. By this, I mean, that a lot of socializing and early work can make the difference between a sweet tempered horse and a nasty tempered one.

"Barbara Williams" <> wrote:

and it's truly amazing how responsive they are to your body language. A well mannered, responsive horse makes a great endurance horse.


Gosh - SO true! In my quite limited horse-owning experience (5 yrs, 3 horses, all Arab or Arab-X mares) I learned that if I treat them as if they already had the temperment I want them to have, eventually they end up with something at least close to that personality. (Kind of like kids, huh?) So I tell my girls that they're sweet, even when they want to nip me when I tighten the girth that last notch. I tell them they're SO BRAVE, even as my ignored leg cramps up while they scoot to the other side of the road to avoid that horse-eating garbage can. I tell them that they're strong, even when they think they really *must* turn around & go home after the first 2 miles of a lone training ride.

My first mare, Dinah, who we still have, taught me everything from a herd-boss' perspective. When I first got her we pasture boarded her in a 30 acre pasture with about 20 horses. Within 6 months she had calmly moved to 2nd in command, just below a leopard ap gelding who had been there all his life. She has such a cool, calm way of being boss, I just watch her for my cues on how to gain respect from a new horse. She always picks up on what her humans want & tries her hardest to give it without us even noticing - the kind of horse who balances herself under you & makes you think you're a better rider than you are. This horse was a perfect beginners horse except for one thing, I thought they were all like her!  

I learned from my 2nd mare, Bailey, just how amazingly sensitive horses can be. She had been rescued - severely starved & didn't appear to have a lick of professional training. I thought she was extremely stubborn, but I learned that she was just extremely sensitive. She was trying to give me what I asked for & I didn't recognize it, so she gave up. (Boy, could she give up, she could ignore practically anything!) She forced me to begin to learn about horse language, but once I learned to read her subtle gives, we were home free. She was a spook-n-spinner to boot, which taught me to trust her more (& to hang on to the saddle instead of her mouth)  miracle! - she quit spooking! I ended up completely in love with this mare, she had a total personality change & became so sweet & bombproof that we used her in the local handicapped riding program. Sadly, I sold her to chase my endurance dream... she just wasn't a good prospect for distance but adores her new owners, a mom & 2 young girls who are every bit as sweet as Bailey is. 

Now many of you may think I've lost my marbles to have picked a former show horse as my new prospect (& maybe I have!)... but Lola was only shown for a couple years & was out to pasture 24/7 for most of her life. I was impressed by her strong legs, strong back, & the well developed muscles in her butt & topline of her neck - even after not being ridden for 2 yrs. I guessed that she would be pretty balanced & was right about that. I figured she had plenty of pro training although didn't consider that her training had been focused on hyping her up! So yes, we have some issues to address but then, I would be bored if we didn't. I didn't consider how very 'uphill' her Saddlebred 1/2 makes her but am learning to appreciate that (she always catches me if she comes to a sudden 'dead stop' - there'll be no tumbling over HER head!) & really love her huge, long, ground covering stride & her smooth trot. Her recoveries on training rides are good, even though she's really only been back to work for 4 months. Once we get that trailer loading problem addressed, <g> she's in for some fun that she never even knew existed. 

Here's the dilemma... what if Lola doesn't work out for endurance? Although I really *really* want to get more serious about this sport, I don't know if I want to go through the 'break-in' period with another horse again so soon. I'm not looking to break any records, just to be able to do some 50 milers, so I'm just keepin' my fingers crossed that we won't have to cross that bridge...  

Bany, still chilly but sunny So Fla.    

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