In developing the Five-Element typing system my intention is to help people better understand their horses and handle them in ways most suited to each horse. The obvious next step is to actually change the way we approach our horses once we have determined their type. Let’s look at this from the horse’s point of view. What if discover our horse’s type and learn his needs, but we then keep treating him the way we did before we knew what he needed? I think most horses resent this more than being handled by an owner who is simply well-intentioned but ignorant. Yes, I do think the horse can tell the difference. On many occasions I have examined a horse with an ill-fitting saddle or painful teeth but the horse was working fine. Once I informed the owner of the problem the horse’s performance declined until the
problem was addressed.
So ask yourself, “If your horse could leave you, would he?” For instance I look at the way my move from Austin to Fischer, Texas has affected each of my animals. My Jue Yin (Wood/Fire) mule thinks that the move is great. She gets to have the run of the pasture that surrounds the house so she can always check out any action happening with the people working on the house, which satisfies her Jue Yin sense of curiosity. If a client brings me a horse to treat she beats the trailer up the hill and is right there to greet the visiting horse. If she wants her ears rubbed she just has to look for me or bray until I come out to see what she wants.
Remi, my Yang Ming (Metal/Earth) is also happy as can be. He has a huge pasture in which to graze and he also has Cerise to be the herd leader to tell him exactly what he needs to do. Being Metal/Earth, he has a love of routine and is well-settled into his daily program of eating twice a day without fail and having his feet trimmed as needed. Any attention he gets beyond that he feels is just his extra good fortune.
Cerise, being a Fire mare who thrives on personal attention and one-on-one time, has not been so happy. During the time I was getting ready to move I stopped riding completely but I told her that when we moved we would ride again. Well, we moved but I have still been far too involved with the construction of my new home to ride. In fact, I had almost no time to spend with her at all. She and Remi are in the front pasture and eventually they will be able to come up by the barn, but for now they are kind of far away from the building activity. For Cerise this is simply not enough personal contact and the few times I have handled her she has been very tense and flighty. I really get the idea she does not trust me since I broke my promise to her. She is fat and looks good but she is not happy with me and is not relaxed around
me. It is not like I have physically abused her but I feel that if she could find a hole in the fence she would head out and not look back. I am simply not meeting her needs and she knows that I know what they are.
When I started thinking about this I realized how miserable I would be if I did not have Cerise so I made the commitment to find the time to spend with her. This past week I have handled her every day and she has been pretty distant and aloof. Today I got the feeling that she had decided to trust me again. She took a few deep breaths and licked and chewed while I was grooming her. I saddled her up and we had a great ride. Her whole demeanor was different when we got back. Her head was dropped and she let me spray her face with water when I gave her a post-ride bath. Normally she does not like her face sprayed. I feel like I have been given another chance to be the partner she needs me to be. I
don’t know how many more chances I will get before she files divorce papers so I’m going to make the most of this one!
Once you determine your horse’s type, it’s really important to start doing the things that you know he needs. For instance, if you’ve got an Earth or Metal horse, make sure you provide plenty of steady routine to keep him confident and make him feel safe (and be sure to offer your Earth horse plenty of food treats!). If you have a Wood horse, be sure to introduce lots of variety into his life and stay firm on your boundaries. For Fire horses, you need to offer lots of personal contact and attention, not just pure riding or training. And finally, with a Water horse you’ll want to keep him learning new things but in a safe and controlled environment. Of course, there is much more to each type than what I’ve mentioned here, but you get the drift. You will be amazed at how quickly your horse will reward your efforts!