THE MAIN TYPES OF HORSE PERSONALITIES

Last Updated on February 26, 2022 by Allison Price

Knowing a little bit about horse type can help you to connect the temperament traits that your horse exhibits most often with how he may respond to different circumstances. This will help you make the right decisions about your training and how you ride your horse. Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau made it her business learning about each horse’s type. In her book The Dressage Horse Manifesto she explains which categories she sees and how to best work with them.

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Horses may display personality traits such as being social, fearful, fearful and challenging. You can make a horse’s personality traits a part of your training and riding. The more louder they are, the better. Imagine a passive-to-aggressive scale that goes from “1” to “10,” with very passive horses of any temperament type a “1” and more aggressively demonstrated personality characteristics in that type going “up” on the scale from there.

Social

Passive social horses are quiet and curious about their surroundings and people. They often enjoy watching other horses and the happenings around them. They can be very responsive during training. This horse is easy to train and ride.

Although they are socially aggressive horses, they can also be interested in their surroundings but may become more distracted by it. They are often the jokers and class clowns in their barns. They are curious and often in good spirits. This type of horse has a shorter attention span, especially when young. It can cause training problems.


Jamie Lawton and two social mares, Olnia & Gissela. These horses are good friends with all people and with each other. Photo by fireandearthphoto.com.

Aloof

They are best identified by what they don’t do. They don’t seem to be interested in other horses or people, and they tend to ignore their surroundings and limit their interactions with others when possible. Because they don’t know how to interact, they need clear and precise signals.

Horses that are more aloof will tend to ignore stimuli and then react inappropriately because they weren’t paying attention. This horse is not able to follow aid sequences. They need to be able to focus and react in “real-time.”


Bentley and Kassie Barteau. Bentley is aloof but extremely talented. It’s tricky, but it’s worth the effort. fireandearthphoto.com.

Fearful

Horses that are passively afraid can be quiet and watchful in unfamiliar environments. They may also feel more comfortable in their own environment. They can be attentive and responsive during training.

Horses that are fearful and aggressive can become panicky, claustrophobic, or have a strong flight instinct. Horses may react quickly to sudden stimuli, sometimes exceeding the request made. Horses require patience, time and patience to train well, but they often bond with those who know them best.


GP Delano, Yvonne Barteau. He is a fearful and aloof horse, which can be a bit complicated at times. However, he is a hard worker. fireandearthphoto.com

Challenging

Horses that are passively challenging can test authority, but they can be talked out with quiet confidence and clear follow-through.

Opportunistic or contrary types can be more aggressive, which may require riders and handlers to be sharper to get the right responses and respect. These horses respond well to specific, well-timed assistance that is appropriate for every situation. These horses hold their riders responsible. You can “keep them in check,” but you must do it fairly to avoid dangerous situations.

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