I admit it freely: I am a reining weenie. I was raised in the hunter/jumper world and just recently joined the reining world by purchasing a 3-year-old gelding from a reining trainer I ride with. I had been told that my Shao Yang personality would be unsuitable for reining due to her conformation so I followed my trainer’s recommendation and purchased my gelding, Walker.
Knowing nothing about Walker except that he was started late in his 3-year-old year (he’s now almost four) and was not halter-broke or gelded until a few months ago, I didn’t know what to expect. He had had 90 days of training and my trainer said he would be a good fit for me because he was quiet. I noticed at the first thing he did when I brought him home was to head for the hay pile. He put his head down without further ado and began munching away. He seemed unperturbed by the other horses and anything else in his environment as long as he had hay. Even now, several months later, he’s a big eater. That gave me my first clue that he might be an Earth horse personality, or be one of the mixed personality types like a Tai Yin (Earth/Metal) or Yang Ming (Metal/Earth).
As Walker and I have progressed through lessons I realize that I am a reining weenie. I can easily muscle a Wood horse around a jumper course or get on just about any rank horse that no one else wants to ride, but the subtleties of reining escape me. To me a circle is a circle. In jumpers, you might make a courtesy circle but it’s just a circle. In reining, a circle is much more than a circle: it’s a work of art. Big fast circles, small slow circles, they all have to be perfect. Uggh. I am not used to such a detailed focus. Having ridden rank horses a lot in life I am used to fighting a lot of battles to get the job done.
Well, not with my Earth personality horse. Walker is happy to carry on allowing me to do anything and everything wrong. He doesn’t complain much. He doesn’t buck, rear, paw, or otherwise get mad. I just returned from a lesson and discovered that I have been boxing his shoulders in (pushing the inside shoulder out while not allowing the outside shoulder to move outward) for a month of riding. Walker never complained. He just put up with it.
I couldn’t believe it. My Wood mare would have bucked me off while my Shao Yang mare would have just refused to do anything. Walker just did the best he could and leaned on the outside shoulder as a hint that I should move my outside hand away from his neck. I never heard his “message.” Alas. I called a friend and discussed whether having an Earth horse was a bad combo for me and she told me that he was perfect. She pointed out that while he lets me get away with doing the wrong thing, at least he doesn’t punish me by trying to buck me off or just quit on me. So I guess an Earth horse, being a cooperative sort, is good for me. Sure, he lets me do the wrong thing but at least I ride without getting hurt or frustrated.
Being an Earth horse personality, Walker is very patient as long as his food needs are met. He is friendly although at first I though he lacked a personality at all! He is now developing a personality and starting to bond with me. I make sure his hay and feed needs are more than adequately met and now I realize that I have to listen more to his “requests” for change. His requests are so quiet that I haven’t even noticed them until now. I will now try to tune my radar so I pick up his signals and allow his generous personality the rewards it richly deserves. Bottom line? An Earth horse personality is perfect for a beginner or someone like me, a reining weenie!