The moment has finally arrived: you have saved up all your pennies and now you are ready to buy your dream amateur horse, the one that you are going to train mostly by yourself.
You have paid your dues by taking lessons and riding more experienced horses.
Now it’s time to shop for one that you will train from the ground up.
The anticipation is almost overwhelming. Questions are whirling around in your mind:
– What kind of horse will I choose?
– How will I know if he or she is “the one”?
– How will I know if the horse can do the job?
– How do I choose a horse I can get along with?
The Perfect Amateur Horse: Things to Think About
Obviously, you are a unique individual, and you probably have a specific discipline in mind for your new horse, be it dressage, versatility, roping, or jumping. So you’ll want to choose a horse bred and built for the job. After all there is no point in investing a lot of time and effort into a roping horse only to discover that he was bred with no “cow sense”!
But beyond the obvious, what do you consider when you shop for your dream amateur horse? Are you ready for the super-talented but hard-headed competitor or do you want a more pliable horse who may not be as flashy but will be more reliable?
Choose Your Amateur Horse Based on Personality Type
If these questions have you baffled, then looking at a horse’s personality type may help you choose your ideal amateur horse. Based on the Five-Element horse personality typing system I developed for matching horses and humans, I feel that there are six personality types that are perfect for amateur owners.
To simplify, I’ve divided owners into three categories: sensitive, beginner, and experienced. It may seem perfectly normal to categorize owners by their level of experience, but odd to classify them by their level of sensitivity. Yet, sensitivity is important because certain horse personality types can only get along with sensitive humans, so they need sensitive owners, regardless of the owner’s level of experience.
#1: The Sensitive Owner
If you are always aware of your horse’s mood and take note of even the slightest change in his behavior, then you fall in the category of the sensitive owner. The same is true if you know each and every one of your horse’s likes and dislikes. Ditto if you enjoy spending lots of quality time with your horse doing activities like grooming, hand grazing, or groundwork exercises.
If you fall in this category, then a horse with either a Fire or a Shao Yin (Fire/Water) personality type would make an excellent amateur horse for you.
The Fire horse likes being admired, constant grooming, and having your undivided attention. The Fire horse’s motto, “Look at me!” makes him the perfect show horse for the sensitive person. When a Fire horse’s needs are met, he is a very willing and flashy partner. He loves lots of praise but cannot stand harsh correction. Fire horses also need constant contact with their humans, so if you get a Fire horse, plan on spending lots of time at the barn.
The Shao Yin horse is also perfect for the sensitive owner because he aims to please. He will literally “go” until he can go no more, all in the name of pleasing his owner. These horses also enjoy figuring things out and, like the Fire horses, enjoy plenty of praise. The Shao Yin horse does not need as much constant attention as the Fire horse, but must be monitored closely to ensure that his body stays in good health. Shao Yin horses do not have very strong constitutions but, when properly managed, can have long and productive lives as well as successful show careers.
Both Fire and Shao Yin horses can excel in the show ring, but can’t be pushed too far too fast or they will break down. Once they learn their jobs, they are more than happy to perform, but they need owners who are sensitive to their physical, mental, and emotional limits.
#2: The Beginner Owner
If you are a beginner owner looking to train your first horse on your own (or with minimal guidance from a trainer), then you need a horse who is forgiving, eager to please, and not likely to overreact in situations of stress. The two best horse personality types for the beginner amateur owner are the Earth and Yang Ming (Metal/Earth) types. Both are gentle with their humans, learn with ease, and aim to please.
The Earth horse’s motto, “Let’s be a team,” makes him the perfect amateur horse for the beginner owner. Earth horses are solid citizens and tend to be fairly straightforward. They crave two things: food and routine. As long as both of these needs are met, the Earth horse is more than happy to accommodate most requests from a beginner owner. Their main fault is that they can be quite lazy, but this can also be a positive factor since they are usually too lazy to buck or run.
The Yang Ming type also makes a perfect amateur horse for the beginner owner. Being a combination of Metal and Earth, the Yang Ming horse craves routine as well as fairness. As long as you are fair in your dealings with this kind of horse, he can be among the easiest types to train. Yang Ming horses learn more slowly than some of the other types, but once he learns his job he will never forget it. Though not the “best friend” type of horse, if he likes you he will be deeply loyal and try to please you above and beyond the call of duty.
#3: The Experienced Owner
If you have some experience training your own horses, and are looking for a horse who can be more competitive in the show ring, then consider the Metal and Tai Yin (Earth/Metal) horse personality types. Both of these types can be fairly strong-willed, but will do their jobs reliably once they are trained.
The Metal horse can be a true tough competitor. He is tough in every way – physically, mentally, and emotionally. The hardworking ranch horse is the prototypical Metal horse, able to withstand almost any level of work. The Metal horse’s motto is, “What’s my job?” He is a horse who wants a job, and he wants to know exactly what the job entails. He can be a slow learner, but once he learns his job, he will be able to perform it flawlessly (and he will thank you to stay out of his way!). Having a stoic personality, he won’t show affection overtly, but he will perform reliably over and over in just about any discipline. This makes him a perfect amateur horse for the more experienced owner.
The Tai Yin horse is also tough, like the Metal horse. Tai Yin horses are solid hard-working horses who often give their loyalty to only one person. They crave consistency and routine in their lives, and strive to learn their jobs well. They also hold their humans up to high standards, and will not easily forgive unfair treatment. While not as flashy as some of the other types, such as the Fire horse, the Tai Yin horse often wins time and again because of his extremely consistent performance. In fact, on a well-trained Tai Yin horse, the amateur owner can often beat the professionals in the show ring. The Tai Yin horse, being part Earth, loves sweets, so treats can go a long way in keeping this kind of horse happy.
A Note About Sensitivity
While I have divided amateur owners into three distinct categories, there is actually a bit of overlap between categories. For instance, the beginner owner who is also sensitive will do well with the amateur horses I listed for sensitive owners (Fire and Shao Yin). The same is true of the experienced owner who is also sensitive. The bottom line is that Fire and Shao Yin horses need owners who are very aware of their needs and will not push them past their limits.
Are You Ready to Choose Your Dream Amateur Horse?
I hope the information about these six horse personality types helps you be more informed about the kind of personality type best suits your needs. I know what it’s like to go shopping for the perfect amateur horse (or in my case, mule) only to find that your personality is incompatible with his. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
The six horse personality types I’ve identified in this article are best suited to be amateur horses because of their willingness to please and their desire to learn. The other five types can be far more difficult to train and are better suited to professional trainers. Armed with this information, I wish you the best of luck in finding your perfect dream horse!
Arm Yourself with Knowledge about Horse Personality Typing
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to buying your dream amateur horse. To arm yourself with the power to choose the right horse for your needs, access all of the resources available on this topic. With the links below, you can test a prospective horse’s personality, learn more about each personality type, and even chat with others about the subject in our Horse Health Hotline online forum.
Horse Personality Type Test
Horse Personality Type Information
Horse Personality Type Book
Horse Personality Type Ebooks
Horse Personality Type Educational Audios
Learn about the Horse Health Hotline
Read the Posts to the Horse Health Hotline