I was reading through the WEG equestrian blogs, just to see what the riders had to say and how they talked about their individual sports. I am always interested when I come across their descriptions of their horses, and especially pleased if they talk about their horses personality, instead of just their training program or accomplishments. But when I came across these behaviors, described as a “personality” it really gave me pause. I’ve left the rider’s and horse’s name out, but you be the judge: how happy is her horse with his international level job?
What kind of character is *****?
I’ve had him for two years and he’s a funny horse and actually extremely sensitive. He can be hard to catch in the stables and to get out of the box, and more times than not my groom will have some carrots or sugar when I’m trying to get on him!
To me this isn’t a personality or sensitivity, but communication. It is a mistake to interpret a behavior as a fixed personality trait. It is far more useful to look at a behavior as communication about how the animal is feeling in that moment and use it as information. Passing information. If you can’t catch your horse “in the stable” he is telling you his job is stressful and he would rather not. And if you need to feed him in order to distract him long enough to get on, even more clear. I’m not against competition or high level work for horses, but I am all for listening to what your animal is telling you and waiting until they tell you “yes.”