what does the temperment mean? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-08-2011, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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what does the temperment mean?

in ads for horses for sale, there is normally a part that say 1-bombproof 10-being hot. If a horse is at a marking of say 7, does that mean they are spooky? and a reading of 1 does that mean they are lazy or they are respectful?
I am currently looking at a horse with a temperment level of 4. now, i do not enjoy spooky horses, i much prefer the laid back, nonjigging types. so this horse with temp. of 4 and in writing owner said that the horse is always moving, is this a bad thing?/ what does it mean, is he spooky then? thanks :)
oh and is the temp. given to horse in ad something that you shouldn't judge horse with/ don't write them off because of said temperment?
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-08-2011, 03:55 PM
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The trouble with the temperament scale is that it is very subjective, there is no standard unit of temperament to measure against, mores the pity.

I tend to think that a horse with a 1 is relatively problem free, not likely to spook or get hot and run off with you, a 10 is more likely to be a high energy horse, reactive and spooky, will probably need an experienced person to handle them. The trouble is all the measures in the middle are kind of muddled.

Personally when I was looking when my bravery level was low I was looking for something at 3 and under, but now I would expand my search to more lively types.

The other issue with the scale some people use it just to measure how much energy and may 'spook' a horse has, and some people add training in.

The trick is to ask the right questions to sort out is the horse sounds like a good match, then go and try it. When I was selling my 4 year old last year the girl who was looking suddenly asked if he would be good for running barrels in local friendly club, I had to laugh and say that if she wanted to run the barrels she may want to keep looking, if she wanted to walk the barrels or sit and watch others run, than Max would be the guy for her. Turns out that's just what she did want, something that didn't want to run with her, I thought it was a great reverse question
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-08-2011, 09:57 PM
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Sensing you are a beginner I wouldn't look at anything that has a temperament higher than a 2.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-10-2011, 04:10 PM
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The problem is that different people may scale their horses differently. To some, a 1 might mean completely lazy and refuses to move, so they'll rate their dead-broke but willing horse as a 5 (halfway between lazy and very forward). Some might think that 10 is only for psycho horses, and rate their very go-go-go horse a 5 (halfway between calm and psycho). Those two horses are rated the same, but have pretty different personalities.

Not to mention, some might use the scale only for what it says--temperment (1 for pocket pony, 10 for psycho?), others might use it for speed (lazy to very forward), other might use it for spookiness, as it seems you're inclined to think of it (1 for bombproof, 10 for spooks at his own shadow).

Add in the fact that it's possible to have a horse with a lazy temperment, but still spooks at everything it sees (at least it probably would spook with only a step or two, and not bolt all the way back to the barn?), or a horse that never wants to stop MOVING, jigs all over the place, but isn't actually scared of anything.

Better just go look at the horse, meet it, and ride it if you feel comfortable. The owner saying it's always moving probably means it is jiggy, though, but not necessarily spooky. I rode a horse recently that was very AWARE of everything, but he never actually spooked. But he was VERY jiggy for the first five minutes, and still pretty forward for the next 15, until he settled in nicely.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-10-2011, 05:40 PM
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Great responses so far.

I'd like to add that I owned a fabulous horse that was 10+ on forwardness, but never spooked, bolted, bucked, reared or did anything remotely wrong, was a perfect gentleman on the ground but he was sensitive, *bold* and not an amatuer ride. I guess I would have rated him an "8" on temperment.

I think your best bet is to use that temperment score as a very general guide. I might look at horses rated 4 and below. I would then ask the sellers very specific questions on why they rated the horse that way. It will also be very helpful if you can be very clear and specific about what's important to you.

Bomb-proof trail companion? Ground manners? Don't care about trail riding but want something you can help you advance in lessons? A packer for local shoes?
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-11-2011, 12:55 PM
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I've never really heard about this method of "grading" temperament.

I think you are far better to give the seller a call and ask them questions about the horse and how it acts. That way you can ask if it is spooky, or forward moving, or lazy, or whatever, and the seller can probably even often you some examples. Don't just disqualify a horse based on the ad.
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-11-2011, 12:56 PM
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Temperment means how the horse behaves and how he/she reacts to certain situations some horses are mean and some are not. I've been around alot of good horses and some mean horses. I've seen people almost get hurt. Temperment is my number 1 priority when choosing a horse. Me personally, I do not work with mean horses. Some people love mean horses. I personally love good horses; those are the only horses I work with for now. Mean horses, I have to be an expert to deal with those horses when their mean. Get mean with them if their good get good with them. I am an intermediate horse rider due to the fact I got promoted last year to a Cowgirl and climbed back on.

Last edited by Mike_Admin; 10-11-2011 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Removed seeming invitation to contact privately for advice
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-11-2011, 02:29 PM
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Temperament does not necessarily have to do with behavior - mean or sweet. My trail horse, Bonnie would be considered a 1 or 2 in temperament but is way too much horse for a beginner. She has never spooked, reared, bitten, or kicked (except when another horse gets too close to her butt on the trail) but she will take 100% advantage of a beginner rider. She has a great attitude but needs a strong and confident leader.

I ended up with her because her previous owner couldn't handle her and she ran away with her. The rider got scared, bailed off and broke her wrist. I've been riding her on every type of trail imaginable and she has been a sweet heart - but it took a few times before she understood that what I say goes.

I would advertise her as 5 since she can be a strong horse to ride. She is not a beginner's horse or even for some intermediate level riders even though she is a nice level headed horse.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

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It's not always what you say but what they hear.

Last edited by iridehorses; 10-11-2011 at 02:33 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-11-2011, 03:20 PM
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I've never really heard about this method of "grading" temperament.
Saskia, it's common on online horses for sale sites, like dreamhorse or equineclicks. The seller is asked to rate the horse on a scale of 1 - 10 for temperment, 1 being bombproof, 10 being hot. A very subjective tool, but it is supposed to give the buyer a ballpark idea of the horse's temperment. I support the OP's idea that she shouldn't be looking at horses rated by the seller to be above a certain point on the scale.

Cowgirl, I have a problem categorizing horses as "mean'; as I do not believe horses are capable of forming intent. Horses react, either to current stimuli or the memory of past stimuli. "Mean" horses are usually ones that have been badly mishandled and are reacting to previous stimuli or alpha or dominant horses that have not been handled by an alpha human. In any case, there's no place on that bombproof to hot scale for "mean'; it's an entirely separate issue and one a beginner shouldn't be considering.

Last edited by maura; 10-11-2011 at 03:28 PM.
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