Eating Habits of Each Horse Temperament

Ever since I’ve been privy to the information in Madalyn’s book Horse Harmony I’ve been fascinated with the habits and actions of each type. One of the things that cracks me up the most about each horse temperament is the way they eat! Having owned or cared for all of the five major types I’ve come to see that the motivation for eating is different for each type. Here’s a quick rundown of those motivations.

Fire Horse Temperament: You Want Me to Eat What?!?
If it doesn’t look good, taste great, and have tons of variety, the finicky Fire horse would rather starve than eat it. Yup, that’s right. This type of horse would rather develop an ulcer than eat food that’s not up to par. Better figure out what this choose eater likes to eat before he wastes away to nothing! My Fire-Wood (Shao Yang) had the hardest time getting rid of her ulcer because I could not get the right nutrition, herbs, and food past her finicky taste buds!

Earth Horse Temperament: Don’t Worry, I’ll Take Care of the Leftovers …
Just call them vacuum cleaners. Earth horses take it as their personal responsibility to make sure that no food goes uneaten. More importantly, they will do it in a way that wastes the least calories. They will eat everything around them before actually moving their feet to a new location. When I go out in the morning to feed my Earth gelding, Walker, is cleaning up the leftover little bits of hay from the night before that the two are mares are too snooty to pick up. He then keeps eating all the way through breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner. Then all through the night. I can basically find him at the feed trough 24/7 with a certainty of 99.7%.

Wood Horse Temperament: Eating is a Competitive Event
Wood horses love to win at anything and everything, even eating! Eating isn’t so much about ingesting the food necessary for survival, it’s about stirring up as much trouble, action, and antagonism as possible in the herd. Oh, and did we mention it’s good to make the owner curse as well? My Wood mare will literally herd every horse, even the alpha mare, from hay pile to hay pile by charging at them, pinning her ears back, and basically causing a riot. She doesn’t get a lot of eating done but, in her own mind, she “wins” every meal.

Metal Horse Temperament: Sure, I’ll Eat That But Leave Me Alone
“Leave me alone” seems to be the keynote of most Metal horses that I’ve met and that slogan applies to eating as well. Metal horses will eat the most horrible food without complaint if that is all that is offered to them. I have been to a cutting and ridden a champion cutter mare who was fed straight alfalfa pellets that were not even soaked, and she willingly ate them morning and night because nothing else was offered. But she hated to have anyone watch her while she ate. Food also isn’t a big incentive for the Metal horse, it’s just a necessity. Metal horses can be notoriously hard to catch and nothing is more frustrating than going out with a bucket of grain when you want to catch your Metal horse and have him laugh as he runs away from you!

Water Horse Temperament: Feed Me Right Or We’ll All Pay
Often having long, lanky bodies, Water horses will eat and eat and eat. But their motivation isn’t the same as the Earth horse, who likes to leave no food untouched. Nope, Water horses are usually starving in the nutrient department so, if they are being fed poor quality food, they have to eat a lot of it to get all the nutrition they need. They can eat like little pigs and still look thin, at least in my experience. My Water horse was tall and skinny and ate like he had three hollow legs. And no matter how much grain I poured down him, I could never satisfy him unless I put in supplements galore. Then his appetite would diminish and his spooky Water personality would also subside … well, at least somewhat!

Well, there you have it … the observations of the eating habits of the different types from a gal who has owned and fed at least one of each type, and cared for lots of each type. Personally, I tend toward Wood and Fire types, which means lots more work for me, but the humor of it all is often worth more than many hours on the therapist’s couch!!!

(contributing author)

Leave a Reply