Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is Your Horse a Rock Star?

I found an interesting little book that I wish I had read YEARS ago, back when I was teaching dressage, when I was working with so many students who were riding a horse that were not suited to their personality. The book is titled: "Is Your Horse a Rock Star" by Dessa Hockley.

What's so great about this book is it basically looks at horses using a simple analysis tool:
Is the horse:
dominant or submissive
energetic or lazy
curious or afraid
friendly or aloof

One of the things that I like best about her method is that she doesn't tie into any particular training fad or methodology, she just defines the personality type and then talks about the challenges, advantages, and suitability of that type. One of the things she delves into is who that personality type often suits the best and how to adapt to that type if you need to change YOUR approach.

The best time to have this information, of course, is BEFORE a person buys a horse and finds they are butting heads with that same horse. But it is also useful afterwards, assuming a person is willing to try to adapt their behavior and style to the horse than they already own.

I used to think that the rescues that came to live with me were the clear and simply product of poor handling and poor training. I still feel that way, but I can see from this book, exactly what mistakes those "poor trainers" made. It's been fun to do a quick analysis of all the horses in my barn and get a feel for what type of person they are best suited for. I think this could be an excellent tool to help match the right horse with the right rider, however I suspect some "buyers" will not want to be told that Old Faithful is better suited to their personality than their first choice, Hot Stuff...

At any rate, it's a fun read and has great potential to help a lot of horses, IF their humans are willing to make some changes in their approach. In many cases, humans feel that the horse should be adaptable and change to fit the human's style, but honestly, that often just doesn't happen and the end result is that everyone is miserable.

So, hats off to Dessa Hockley for trying to put all of this into clear perspective and help people see why there can be so much variation between horses, even of the same breed.

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