I just came across these in the other thread about the horse looking away, and it sounded a lot like my horse, Snickers (an Arabian). He's willing and responsive, but very stand-offish. I don't think it's due to all the "normal" things that I've dealt with in the past and haven't really been able to explain his behavior. For instance....
He sometimes walks away from me if I approach in the pasture (he used to do it a lot more), but will let me catch him if I just keep walking toward him. If I don't walk to him and instead go and give my attention to something else - checking out a fence or petting another horse - he'll come up to me to find out what's going on and won't turn away if I try to approach/catch him. It's like he wants the attention, and so plays hard to get, but if I don't play along, he comes to me anyway.
Chasing him and making him move his feet doesn't work very well - he just runs away more and gets more worked up. (Last year, when we did have a catching issue, a trainer cornered him for me and then had me work him until he turned in to me, which took hours, and then we had to lasso him the next day instead)
He seems very sensitive to pressure and is very emotional and preoccupied about things. He'll even walk away from his food if there's something he feels he needs to check on for whatever reason.
He is the dominant horse in any situation I've put him in, which is interesting considering how sensitive he is to me.
He's very aware of all his surroundings and is always watching. Oftentimes, he'll completely "forget" I'm there (whether I'm there on the ground or on his back) and look off into the distance at whatever is calling his attention more.
He doesn't like to be alone. If turned out into an arena, he'll pace and whinny and flip his head until someone comes to keep him company. This could be another horse or just me. He used to have security issues with me, but he generally is paying attention to me and not worrying about the other horses as long as I'm actively working with him. He has no problem going out on the trail, and actually does better at endurance when it's just the two of us because he's not concerned about keeping tabs on the other horse. If we're with another horse, he's more concerned about where they are than taking care of himself.
He doesn't like anything behind him. He gets very tense when you're behind him and used to swing his butt around to the other side if you walked behind him so that he could keep an eye on you and his butt away from you. He's never tried to kick and won't act out - he's just very concerned about what's going on around his rear. In fact, if he hears a horse coming up behind him, he'll step off the trail and turn back to watch them pass before continuing, and forget about tying him up or trailering him with another horse behind him - he got himself stuck one time trying to turn around and see who was behind him!
Anyway, rather than being behavioral problems that each need to be fixed or retrained, I now believe these are all effects of his personality. I clicked this link describing horsenalities, and I'm positive he's got a very dominant right-brain personality, and though I'm not sure about being extraverted or introverted, I'm inclined to believe he's an extrovert (he's definitely got a lot of "go!").
Does anyone else have any insights into this and how I could improve my relationship with him? For whatever reason, I absolutely love this horse and can't imagine why. I would think I'd enjoy a lovey, cuddly, excited horse much more, but he simply intrigues me and is my puzzle. Plus, I think the relationship I have with him may be worth more to me because I have to work at it and develop a real bond since he's not just going to give it to you no questions asked. I really hope I can find a way to bond with him more and learn to give him his individual handling needs.
I don't know, but I have to compliment you on the detailed and observant description of your horse that you made. Being observant is probably the very best quality a person can have to work with horses.
If your body tells him you are behaving in a predatorial way, that is how he will respond. Try circling around behind him by not looking at him, check out the sky, trees, etc but not him. By doing it this way your body is non-predatorial. If a horse is difficult to catch, chasing the horse is predatorial so the horse runs off. Wait until the horse is grazing, circle way around until directly behind and shoo him off, using only as much energy as it takes to move him off his spot. I'd rather he move only a few steps than head for a far corner. This is what horses do to assert their dominance - they decide they will eat where the other is eating, so now you stand where the horse had been grazing. You can either back away and allow it to return if a hay pile, or repeat the exercise.
I read a very interesting book that said that horses have basically 4 personalities. The aloof or standoffish horse that likes to be left alone, the social horse that likes and needs social contact, the challenging horse that will test the limits and the fearful horse that needs reassurance. According to the author, horse can be a little of the personality or a lot. They can be a little fearful for instance or a lot. I don't have the book right at hand or I would tell you the title and author but it made a lot of sense to me. I could identify the personalities of my horses. The book also had training and handling techniques for each personality.
When I first read of all the "horsenalities" and the right brain, left brain and switching sides and tendencies, I figured I'd need a degree in psychiatry to sort all this out.
I thought the Parelli's horsenalities was complicated too. but it was a good attempt tohelp us understand that different horses take different approaches in training just like people don't learn the same.
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Ther Horsanalities arent really that complicated and they are very helpfull. They do confuse alot of people, however, and they think that each horse can only have one personality and therefor many dont like the idea of them very much.
But that is not the point at all.
The Parelli's show the different types of personalities that a horse can go through so that it can help the handler better understand the mindframe that any particular horse might be in at any given time and consequently change his approach or methods to get the most/best out of the horse.
Horses can be all 4 of the "horsenalities" at any given moment, it all depends on the enviroment and the situation.
a horse that is normally a left-brained introvert can go right-brained extrovert if motivated. I worked with a horse that was normally a left-brained extrovert that would have moments of right-brained introvert when he got frightened. He would freeze up and appear to be calm but if you tried to stimulate him to do anything in those moments he would come unglued.
This is where it helps to be able to see & understand what the horse is "thinking" at that moment and recognize all the physical signs so that you dont push him over the edge. Then when he comes back around and "switches" you can go back to working with him the way you were before.
But you have to know how to address that horse that shows up, whenever he shows up.
They have some really good videos that show the horsenalities and how they deal with them so that if and when the horse changes his attitude/frame of mind one can identify it and react accordingly until the horse changes back.
They're basically trying to prove that not all horses are the same and that they can all switch from being calm, agreeable horses to being prey animals again and it is never because they are just being stupid or stubborn. There is a reason and it helps to be able to understand the horse and be able to motivate him or help him out of a stressfull situation without being a bully and getting angry with him.
I found horsenalities helpful when training my horse. She's a super right bran extrovert. I just thought she was crazy. :lol: I'd never ridden a horse who was so driven by wanting to feel safe.
This desire to be secure led her to being extremely buddy sour, insecure in new places, and very "claustrophobic." If I held her back, she came unglued.
I was told by a Parelli person at a playday I attended to give her what she wanted until she didn't want it anymore. I was told when my horse didn't want to stand still/acted like a nut, never hold her back or punish her. Frustration = aggression. Anger = game over. Right brain extroverts want to feel safe with you. They can't if they think you want to eat them.
So I was instructed to circle tightly, faster than she wanted to, until she wanted to stop, and then some. It worked miracles! :D
After two years together, she's starting to find security with me. She's a very kind, affectionate, hard working horse. She's also nervous, reactive, and fearful, but that's getting better as she gains confidence. I have just to be patient, never get frustrated, and give a lot of reassurance.
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