Saturday, March 9, 2013

What I Learned This Morning

A couple of days ago I was reading a post by Grey Horse Matters about horse personalities.  In it she gives a great link to a personality quiz for your horse.

After taking the test with all four I learned that Killian is a Wall Flower, Danny is a People Pleaser, and of course Sassy is a Goddess.  For the most part these assessments are correct, with some mild deviations. 

The most interesting one though was Trax.  Trax is a Perfectionist.  Now to read the title of his personality I thought that maybe it was incorrect.  this morning while drinking my coffee I took a few minutes to read what it really means.  I do believe they know my horse pretty well. 

Here is what it says:

I tried to copy and paste the whole thing but the font was all whacked out. 


Anyway if you don't have time to read the whole thing I will give you a quick summary.   


In a nutshell, a perfectionist, if not handled correctly as a young horse will become a horse who not only lacks confidence, but whose favorite coping mechanism is to simple leave.  They will do it in the pasture, they will do it on the ground, they will do it when you are riding.  Basically you end up with a runaway horse. 


Sound Familiar? 


Even in a herd, they tend to be just slightly aloof, so they never really join in like most horses do. Perhaps over time when they are very comfortable, they will get better (as Trax has) but the minute anything gets uncomfortable for them, they are gone. (as he still is)


It also says that if you can gain this horses trust (which I have begun to do) he will want  to listen to you.  It says "this horse does not tire"  (yup that is my horse)  " He will be happy to repeat patterns and school frequently. As long as you are there for him in the performance he will give you 120%"  Again, that is my horse.  


I do believe that he trusts me more than he has ever trusted a human before, here is why.  When we were at the fairgrounds riding with RK I tied him up for a bit while I went and grabbed grooming supplies from the trailer. When I left he was not pulling on the rope but he was dancing back and forth as i went out the door When I returned another young lady was standing next to him trying to calm him down. Now he did not step towards her but he was not calm either.  The minute I stood next to him he relaxed.  If he could see me, he was fine, if he could not, he was worried.  If I had a hold of his lead rope, he walked around with head down totally relaxed.   He is that way often. If he can see me, he is relaxed, but if he can't he gets worried.  It doesn't even matter if one of his herd mates is with him. It is more about me.  The flip side to that is that he is still hard to catch or touch if he is loose in the pasture.  If I have food he might let me pet him, but sometimes not. Yet, put him in a round pen or in his run, and he will let me walk right up to him every time, no food needed.  (of course that took some work to get him that way)  As a general rule, in the pasture if he sees me coming he moves away. But the minute I turn my back on him he will follow me at a "safe" distance.  He wants to be with me, but yet he doesn't.  


The most interesting part I thought was what they said about training.  If what they say is true, I have been going about it all wrong. Instead of letting him race around the arena to warm up, I should be walking him for a long time to let him relax and feel safe. Safety is key to a horse like this.  When we pick up the pace if he starts trying to run away, bring him back down where he can relax and then start again. Eventually he will have enough trust and confidence in me that he will stay relaxed through it all.

A perfectionist needs to feel successful in what they do, so a lot of repetition is vital so that they can get really good at what you ask of them.  Training must be kept at their pace.  Rushing them is setting them up for failure.    As a rider I need to always stay calm and confident so that he can gain confidence from me.   If I look back at where we have been through training, I can see the times I rushed him were the times he struggled.


I was kind of bummed at what it listed for good careers for a horse like this. It said they make great long distance horses, especially endurance.  What this means for us is that he probably never will excel in arena competitions.  (I heard Jay in my head when I read that)  Mainly though it said to find one thing he is good at and stick with it.

With all that in mind, I do know what Trax loves to do. He loves cow work.  He absolutely excels at it.  The time we pushed 150 head of cow for 11 miles, I have never seen him as happy as he was that day. If one squirted off, he was on it, when the rest of the horses were dragging ass, he was still at it moving back and forth across the herd to keep them in line, because we lost half our riders. (they went to get the trailers)  He did not care what we had to do to keep those cows moving, he did not care what sort of terrain we had to tromp through, he had a job to do and he was doing it with a passion. We were in swamp, in rocks, over bridges, down roads, across prairie, through thick brush, and had tumbleweeds flying at us.  The wind was blowing 50mph and it was raining and snowing, he did not care.  When we were all done, many of the horses were foot sore. Trax was not. 

 They day I took him to the Ranch Horse clinic the part he did the best with was penning that cow along the fence.   I somehow managed to let him know what we needed to do, and he did the rest. 


With the Ranch Horse class, most of what he has to do, is similar to driving cows. He has to be able to go over obstacles, he has to load and unload easily, he has to be able to do a basic reining pattern, and he has to work a cow.   Unfortunately the only time he actually has a cow in front is when he is penning it.  At the clinic I was able to get him to let me open and close the gate to the arena while on him, although it did take a lot of work.  But one of their obstacle is a rope gate, and literally the minute I reach for that rope he bolts.  I have got to find a way to help him get past that.   I guess the thing to do is to build one myself and then start with just asking him to stand next to it.   This is something I will have MK work on me with. 


After reading this assessment I understand him slightly better.  Much of it I knew already, but now I know I have to take things slower with him. Whether or not I will put him in the color breed class remains to be seen.  If I can teach him to trust me enough to stand still while a stranger walks around him will be the clincher.  It is possible that I never will.   Whether or not I will ever get him over that rope fear, who knows.   If I can't, then competitive trail (in an arena) may be out as well, for I believe that have that same obstacle in that class as well.  


 I know that more will be revealed in the next 6 months.  I believe MK to be a good solid trainer who is not harsh on horses.  He trained both of the Arabians next door to me. I have seen him ride and this is not a man that yanks a horse around, he guides and supports, which is what Trax needs more than anything.    The main thing that this little exercise has reinforced to me is what I have always known. Trax needs me.  He needs me way more than I even need him.  He needs to know that I will always be there for him, I will always keep him safe. He needs to have one consistent person in his life, and I am that person. 

I am so happy to be "His Lady"


  1. Okay so the summary wasn't so quick after all!

  2. Wow!! I'll have to do this for pony later since it was so spot on for trax! Clearly all of those things related perfectly to trax!

    I think the main thing that stood out to me was that instead of 'running them down' you need to let them focus on one thing until they relax. I've done it with pony a million times, and it works better than anything else either. Just trotting in a repetitious circle, and suddenly she just relaxes and then she's okay. I think that's cool to know that Trax's personality is pretty well defined, and the way he was treated in the beginning of his life has really laid out how he acts for the rest of it.

  3. Its a fun quiz, but I found some fit my horses and others not so much , they are who they are

  4. Very cool! I will be checking this out for sure :)
    I like how the assessment seemed to help you understand Trax better.