Friday, September 3, 2010

My Horse is a Rock Star!

My Horse is a Rock Star!

I’ve been following a discussion about cloning on a forum (a subject that FASCINATES me!) when someone brought up this quiz on finding your horse’s personality.
Yes, I know there has been a lot of pooh-poohing Parelli’s Horsnality test, but let’s do this one just for fun.

Here is Grace’s result:

The Rock Stars are confident and charismatic. They are expressive and strong minded. They love to show you what they know but are hard to get to focus on the small details of the task. They are found in many competitive arenas, usually at the top of their field.

This didn’t surprise me, of course everyone wants to think of their horse as a Rock Star and for all I know every answer equals that result. But I’ve always know that there was something special about Grace’s personality. I also believe that she and I are a good match for each other. I’ve said more than once that if she had another owner, it might not have worked out so well.

There are a few things I’ve noticed about Grace that set her apart in my mind.
When she is afraid of something her reaction is to stop, lift her head and then walk TOWARD the scary thing! Every horse I owned before her would stop, spin and then run the other way. Grace is like the alpha mare in a herd, it’s her job to check it out so everyone else is safe; that is unless we bring Belle the dog with us on a trail ride. Then Grace is perfectly ok with sacrificing Belle to the boogeyman first.

Grace does not enjoy being drilled over and over again in training. If she doesn’t understand something she gets frustrated quickly. I have learned to take an exercise and break it down in to several small steps. As soon as she responds correctly to a question I make a big FREAKING deal over her. If she responds wrong, I don’t get upset, I ask again. If she still doesn’t get it, I go back and ask a question I know she can answer and I build from there. Once she gets the first part of the exercise, I can then add the second part and so on. This process may only take 30 minutes or so for a 3 step process. If I had asked for all 3 steps at the beginning of the ride, I would have spent an additional 30 minutes just getting her past her frustration.

Grace love to see the “Big Picture”. Several years ago I took her to a reining clinic. I still remember her intently watching the other horses doing their sliding stops and spins. The first day we spent most of the time observing the other more experienced horses and riders. This was the first time I noticed Grace watching and learning. (you think I’m crazy don’t you!) The next day she seemed to walk out of the stall a little taller. By the end of the morning session she had a sliding stop, it was really cool! It was like Grace walked of the stall that morning saying “I’m a Reiner!”

I’ve seen the same thing with barrel racing. I do most of my work off the barrel pattern. I may throw a barrel in the arena for the occasional exercise just to see where she is on her turns. I had a trainer tell me years ago to use the maneuvers (spins, slides, barrel turns, lead changes) as the reward. This has worked wonders for Grace. When we do work the pattern it is usually at the end of the ride. I let her run the last time we work the pattern for the day, for the next 10 minutes while we are cooling out she feels like she is 17 hands tall. She has her “happy barrel racer buzz”. The last thing I want to do with this horse is to over drill the pattern. She LOVES it and I want to keep it that way.

I put a lead change on her with this method. At first I worked with a trainer, I remember one night in an outdoor arena drilling over and over again until it was dark. By the end of the lesson both Grace and I wanted nothing to do with lead changes. I went back on my own and asked for a simple change on a figure eight. I kept taking out trot steps until there was only one left. It got to the point that she was begging me to just let her do the flying change as it would be easier than the simple changes. That was it; she was now a flying lead change fool! We never again would have to run out of daylight to get something accomplished.

I’ve had more than one trainer label my mare as “opinionated”. We were in a clinic with Les Vogt. There were only a few participants so he had time to get on every one’s horse. He only spent 5 minutes on Grace before saying “This mare is too hot for me and I’m too old for this”. I was shocked! I had never heard Grace described as hot. This was one of the few times I had encountered someone who was not in awe of my most perfect horse. I felt like a parent of a gifted child and someone had just come along and said “She’s not all that special”.

What I have noticed is that if someone get’s on Grace’s back with the intent to dominate her reaction to it is “IT’S ON”! This is why I never end a ride on a bad note. I swear Grace carries it over into the next ride. She remembers where ever we left off. If we left off on a bad note, as soon as I get on the next day, it’s on! So I go out of my way to end all of our rides on a good note. Even if that means asking her what one plus one is, and when she say “Two, everybody knows that!” I make a big freaking deal over her and then get off her back. The same thing goes for when she learns something new and we end the ride on that success. The next day when I get on, she is really excited to show me her new trick. As soon as I ask for whatever it was, she is right there. I’m pretty sure she thought about it all night long.

So, if your still with me and haven’t written me off as the crazy lady who over anthropomorphizes her horse; where does your horse fall in the Rock Star test?

While we wait for your answers, Grace and I will be working on calculus questions with one hoof tied behind her back!

I found this on the horse personality website after I posted the blog. This is what is says about a Rockstar personality:


Pamper their egos
Allow them to shine
Allow them to teach you
Work them regularly
Treat them with dignity
Pet them, love them
Respect them


Coddle them
Pick at them
Be a perfectionist
Bore them
Be a taskmaster

Now that is really interesting. Grace HAS to be worked regularly. She is not one of those horses that can sit in a pasture for days on end. Even in the winter she is worked at least 4 days a week. If she gets 2 days off in a row, I must do ground work at the beginning of the next ride, or I will spend the entire ride just settling her.

The "don'ts" make perfect sense to me. She hates to be picked at, and I really think that Western Pleasure bored her. She love patterns, they are not boring.
This is really fun


  1. haha great post. NIce to get even closer to the mind of Grace. LOL I will take the test once I finish actually working at work :)

  2. That's a much better personality test than most of those that are around, and the book that goes with it is pretty fun as well. Maisie is a People Pleaser and Dawn is a Wild Card!

  3. ya it is fun! watch for my Personalities II post tomorrow!!