I decided to write Horse Harmony, a book about horse temperament, after experiencing a bad match with a tough mule named Jake. Up until Jake came into my life I assumed a good training program was the answer to all behavior issues. After working with several of the best trainers in the country I came to understand that Jake was a nice mule but not a match for me.
Horse harmony breaks down horse temperament into 5 main types and 6 combination types. Different management, feeding and training strategies are discussed for each type. Once a person has a basic understanding of each horse temperament, it is easier to know what kind of horse to look for or how to get along better with the horse you have.
Here are the brief descriptions of each horse temperament:
Fire Horse: The Perfect Show Horse
Fire horses love to be at the center of attention and they want
to be adored. They make excellent hunters and dressage horses, as
well as good pleasure horses. They need to be told that they are
loved. They enjoy grooming and bathing because it makes them
Wood Horse: The Ultimate Competitor
Wood horses love physical challenges and must be kept active or
they will develop bad habits like kicking and biting. Wood horses
make excellent jumpers, barrel racers and cutters so long as they
understand the rules of the game. Don’t try to subdue or
overpower a Wood horse but instead reason with them.
Earth Horse: The Dependable Lesson Horse
Earth horses love two things: respect and food. They are solid
citizens who want to be appreciated for the good work they do,
and food treats often go a long way toward keeping them happy.
They make perfect school horses and work well with children. They
develop bad habits when their daily routine is upset.
Metal Horse: The Hard-Working Ranch Horse
Metal horses enjoy order and control, and can stand up to some of
the toughest working conditions. They do their jobs perfectly but
otherwise desire very little interaction. They can be found in
all disciplines and are often found in working-horse situations
Water Horse: The Arab Park Horse
Water horses need safety and a trustworthy rider. They can be
brilliant show horses but panic easily. They perform well in
events that call for animation and excitement, and are motivated
by cheering crowds. They need steady riders to help them through
Tai Yin Horse (Earth/Metal): Consistent Hard Worker
The Tai Yin horse often bonds to a single person and will work
very hard for that person. They crave respect and routine. They
excel in events that call for consistency rather than flash. They
tend to be slower moving and have heavier bodies.
Yang Ming Horse (Metal/Earth): Good Horse for Beginners
Yang Ming horses want to be treated fairly. They will withhold
respect and affection until they are sure their riders are fair
and respectable. They are athletic enough to go into any
discipline and often win based on their consistent performance.
They tend to have long and lanky bodies.
Shao Yin Horse (Fire/Water): A Good Kid’s Horse
Shao Yin horses like attention and social interaction as well as
figuring things out. They are fairly laid back and make excellent
western pleasure and trail horses. They have good presence in the
show ring but lack the personality to do speed or endurance
events. They seem to be the easiest of all types to train.
Tai Yang Horse (Water/Fire)
Tai Yang horses have the highest energy of all the types and they
love to show off. They need supportive riders to help them
through scary situations and tend to be suspicious of new people.
They excel at jumping and endurance and also do well at
competitive driving. They need to be taught to relax and thrive
Jue Yin Horse (Wood/Fire)
Jue Yin horses are highly mercurial and work well only when they
want to. Working with these horses can be a real exercise in
patience and if they are not “in the mood” to work, it’s best to
delay training to another day. These horses do best in low
pressure activities such as playdays, trail rides, clinics and
schooling shows. Desensitizing them with exposure to flags and
tarps can make them much safer to handle.
Shao Yang Horse (Fire/Wood)
Shao Yang horses are the supreme competitors. They are agile,
coordinated and athletic, but can take aggressiveness to an
extreme. Shao Yang horses need handlers with the same level of
will and strength. These horses excel at racing, cross country,
stadium jumping, reining and cutting, but lack the focus to do
dressage, pleasure or hunter classes.
For more information about Five Element Horse Temperaments check out Horse Harmony
We also have some Five Element Audios of actual case histories and discussion of each horse temperament type. Real life cases are a great way to gain understanding of Five Element typing.