Does your horse have so much get-up-and-go that he can barely stand still? Does he run from the far end of the pasture to the water trough … even though he could just as easily walk? Is trotting his favorite gait?
If so, then you probably have a Tai Yang (Water/Fire) temperament horse … and they can be both a real pleasure to ride and a true challenge to train.
The Challenge of Training the Tai Yang Horse
Praise and support are the keynotes for successfully training the Tai Yang horse. When properly supported by a confident person, the Tai Yang horse is a dream to work with. The Water and Fire elements are not as opinionated as some of the other types. This is not to say this horse does not have some issues, but he is generally looking for support and seeks to please.
If you get too rough with a Tai Yang horse, you will hurt his feelings and destroy his confidence. At first he will try harder to please, even though he may be upset, but if the rough handling continues eventually he will lose all his joy and brilliance. At this point an experienced rider can still get him to perform, but he can be unpredictable to ride and handle.
The best way to support the Tai Yang horse is to praise him and let him figure things out. Praise builds his confidence and his try. The Water element makes him somewhat intellectual (although not to the extent of the Fire/Water or straight Water horse), so he likes to be appreciated for his skills in addition to his beauty.
Magic: Case Study of a Successful Tai Yang
If you have a Tai Yang horse then you will want to know about Magic. Who is Magic? He is a high-powered, super fast, and totally athletic roping head horse. He is also over 20 years old and still out there roping like a champion. He also looks great … a lot younger than his age.
There are two keys to Magic’s longevity and success:
- Teaching him to travel long, low, and slow
- Feeding his intellectual side without letting him get hot
Traveling Long, Low, and Slow
Tai Yang horses are forward and fast by nature, and Magic is no exception. The first time Dusty tried out Magic as a potential rope horse, Magic was so fast that he outran every single steer. Nevertheless Dusty, an experienced roper, loved the “feel” that Magic gave him so the two became partners.
While Magic and Dusty did very well early in their combined career, they really started to succeed when Magic learned to travel long, low, and slow. To teach the horse to slow down, both physically and mentally, Mary (Dusty’s other half) put a snaffle bit on Magic and asked him to trot. As you can imagine, Magic trotted around at the speed of light. Nevertheless, Mary allowed the horse to have free rein and trot as fast as he wanted. She only stopped him when he stepped into the lope. After careening around the arena for a long time with no steering or brakes, Magic finally slowed down, dropped his head,
and took a deep breath. He realized that Mary was not going to “grab” him the mouth and that he could truly trot slowly in a relaxed manner.
Ever since that first session, Mary has continued to work with Magic in this way several times a week. She calls this exercise “the stretchy circle,” since Magic is encouraged to stretch his whole body out long and low in a circle. She attributes his excellent muscling, especially over his back, as well as his great attitude in the roping box to this exercise.
Feeding Magic’s Intellectual Side
The other key to Magic’s success is the work that Dusty does with him in the roping box. There is no doubt that Magic can scorch out of the roping box and get into position on his steer in a split second. The key with Magic, as with all Tai Yang horses, is to control that speed and teach him to use it wisely.
For Magic, this means scoring a lot of steers in the box. For those not familiar with roping, scoring means releasing the steer from the chute while keeping the horse in the box. This teaches Magic to leave the box only when Dusty gives him the signal to do so. Because Magic has both Water and Fire elements in his temperament, he likes to “figure things out.” In fact, the horse has gotten so good at this that there are times when Dusty actually has to kick to get Magic moving!
Learn by Watching: The Tai Yang Horse
Want to learn more about the Tai Yang temperament type and about Magic? Check out our online video of Mary and Magic. You’ll learn tons and probably fall in love with Magic … we certainly have!