A Hard-to-Type Horse for Temperament or Personality

I am going to see a horse today that has been a real challenge to type in terms of her temperament or personality. Tess is a warmblood mare who as a baby was rejected by her dam. She was allowed to nurse briefly but got no real mothering and the mare would bite at her if she came too close. I don’t know how much this experience affected Tess but she is very hard for me to type. She was bred as a 3 year old and had a foal and she was a good mother to the foal. She was worried about the foal and a bit over protective but if I talked to her calmly I could handle the foal.

After the foal was weaned, Tess was started in jumping training and she seemed very confused as to what her job was. She was spooky and fearful with very little self confidence. Tess did not grasp lessons quickly and seemed to shut down when asked to try harder. This behavior led me to type her as a Metal horse temperament. After a period of good work, Tess again regressed in her training and became much more difficult and excitable. On examination she seemed to have some hormonal imbalances which we addressed with herbs and turn out to let her rest physically and emotionally. I begin to wonder if I had mistyped Tess and she was more a Water horse temperament. If she was a Water horse temperament it would explain why she seemed intimidated by the training. Water horse temperaments are timid and easily overwhelmed if asked to do more than they are ready for.

Tess is back in training now and she is lucky to have a trainer who is wanting badly to help her be successful. I will evaluate her today to see if the hormonal issues are resolved. Generally a Metal horse temperament will work despite discomfort so if the hormone issues are clear and Tess goes back to good work I will probably retype her as a Water horse temperament. It is very possible that the shut down, slow learning behavior she exhibited early in training was a personality trait she developed from lack of any good mothering early in her life coupled with having the responsibility of raising a foal when she was still young. If Tess is indeed a Water horse temperament she should thrive with someone who will take the time to gain her trust and bond with her.

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