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Hot or Cold: Which Temperament is Best for You?

Select the horse whose thermostat" is set in your comfort zone.

By Cindy Hale | 18-Aug-03

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When purchasing a horse or choosing one to ride, we tend to be smitten by a horse's appearance and abilities. Unfortunately, we often neglect to consider the horse's basic temperament. If that doesn't complement our own riding capabilities and comfort levels, riding may become a chore. Here's how to decide which type of horse is best for you.

A hot horse is one that is keenly aware of his environment, making him a little spooky out on the trails or tense amongst a group of other horses. If you're a rider looking for a leisurely ride, a hot horse is probably not for you. Ditto if you're a novice rider. Since a hot horse is very responsive to his rider, if your heel accidentally bumps against his side, you're likely to get a response. Hence, a hot horse quickly becomes frustrated with a rider who asks for one thing but actually wants something else. Conversely, an experienced rider who wants a ready-set-go type of performer yearns for a horse that's alert and responsive. Barrel racers, jumpers and endurance horses all have a tendency to be on the hot side.

At the other extreme of the temperament spectrum is the cold horse. Sure, they're a little lazy at times, but there's something to be said for a horse that enjoys life at a slower pace. Colder horses are perfect for equestrians who view riding as a hobby. Novices enjoy colder horses because, since they're less in a hurry to respond, they're more forgiving of miscalculated cues. If a cold-blooded horse is frisky at a show, it's easy to settle them down with a few minutes on the longe line or under saddle. They tend to reconsider whether it's worth the effort to break a sweat. Moreover, if you're nervous during competition, the cold horse is less likely to react to your emotions.

Riding should be a rewarding, pleasant experience. Choose the horse whose temperament thermostat is set just for you.

The author is a longtime hunt-seat competitor. After years of riding hot horses, her current mare never reaches the boiling point.

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Hot or Cold: Which Temperament is Best for You?

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Reader Comments

Cindy Hale    Horse Channel, CA

7/11/2011 2:10:15 PM

Hi Joe and thanks for your comment.

As the writer of this piece and a regular contributor here at Horse Channel I wanted to respond to your comment. The date I wrote this online article is a matter of record: 2003. It looks like the Show Circuit piece you're referencing (on the same topic) was written in 2009. So if we're to use the chicken and egg scenario, I guess you can surmise who wrote which article first.

That would be me.

And it is interesting that some of the same descriptive language and terminology in the Show Circuit article mirrors mine. Odd, I thought I was the only equestrian journalist who had successfully integrated the quaint words "smitten" and "keen" into my daily vernacular. Maybe I'll have to reconsider that.

But instead of getting snitty about the possibility that someone in desperate need of inspiration or word count borrowed from one of my online articles, I'd rather just chalk this up to a topic that's frequently covered by all horse publications. After all, there are only so many topics to cover in the horse world and we're bound to cross bridle paths once in a while.

Best Regards,

Cindy Hale

Joe    Oklahoma City, OR

7/10/2011 2:48:10 AM

Did you copy this artice? or did show circuit copy you? almost verbatum...not cool

Hannah    Somewhere, RI

5/3/2011 4:07:04 PM

Thanks. I don't have a horse and I'm not looking for one (i wish i was though) but this is very helpful.

Marie    Ogden, UT

1/27/2011 2:00:40 PM

I really like this! Thanks!

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