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Working with Your Horse's Horsenality

Identify your horse's Horsenality profile using the chart, then follow strategies for working effectively with each Horsenality type for a more successful partnership.

By Cynthia McFarland | November HI Exclusive

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Parelli horsenality
Horsenality Chart
Parelli Horsenality Chart

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Pat and Linda Parelli have developed a program to help you better understand you horse’s individual behavior and temperament characteristics.

To identify your horse's horsenality, consider every trait listed on the chart to the right and make a dot on the specific ring that best corresponds to your horse. For example, if your horse is extremely playful, you would put a dot on the outer "extreme" ring under this trait. If he is non-responsive, but only some of the time, you would put a dot on the middle "moderate" ring by this trait. Some of the traits may not apply to your horse at all. You can have dots in different quadrants, but the vast majority of horses will end up with most of their dots in one quadrant, which reveals that horse's horsenality.

Once you have identified your horse’s horsenality profile using the chart, here are some strategies for working effectively with each horsenality type for a more successful partnership.

The Right Brain Extrovert needs safety. Never push him past the threshold until he's calm. You will need to retreat and to interrupt the pattern. You must have a strong focus and must match the horse's high energy level. Give him a job to accomplish to replace his fear with something positive. He must think of you as his "safe place."

The Right Brain Introvert needs comfort. The worst thing you can do is push this horse before he's confident. You'll ruin his trust in you if you push him before he's ready. Taking your time is important because you'll need to wait on this horse to process things. He needs to believe in you.

The Left Brain Extrovert needs play. He craves creative, imaginative tasks and can't stand to be forced into anything. Because he hates to be bored, you'll need to speed things up, be enthusiastic and come up with variety in your lessons.

The Left Brain Introvert needs incentive. There are plenty of ways to offer incentive without "bribing" him. (Think rest, grazing, treats, scratches.) This horse needs to have a purpose and wants to go somewhere. Riding circles in an area with this horse will lead to resistance and defiance. Use reverse psychology for best results.

For more information about Horsenalities, visit

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Reader Comments

Laurie    Hampton, TN

1/24/2013 12:24:23 PM

The chart is to be used as a tool to help give you ideas when dealing with horses based on their "horsenality" and their needs as individuals. It's no different than considering a person's "personality". This does not, by any means, label a horse. As you begin to play with your horses through the seven games, etc., they will begin to change.....I have a current right brain introvert that needs to establish trust with me. I have to move very slowly and not push him before he is ready in order not to destroy my progress. Having the chart is fabulous & truly helps individualize the needs of each horse. We have 9 horses total and each one of them has different needs as far as approach and handling. This chart was probably developed through a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, and tears...trial and error. I don't work for Parelli and have no reason to stand behind this other than from concrete proof that it works. Some of the "old" ways involved treating each horse the same in training methods, etc. You can't lump a horse into one category simply because he's a horse. Having an open mind and trying things for yourself go an awful long way. I also have a left brain extrovert - high play drive, likes to bite, can be obnoxious, pushy....knowing that he needs to be kept busy & given different tasks in rapid succession has made the world of difference. It keeps me and my horse out of trouble. But, as we progress,he will begin to transform and will learn how to challenge that energy. These horses are often seem as a lost cause - dangerous, etc. Understanding them DOES help. No denying that. Can you get results in ways besides Parelli? You sure can, but parelli is all about building the relationship through love, language, and leadership and taking the time that it takes to do it right. If you love your horses, give this a shot. I love to be understood and know that it's also important to my horses. They're truly worth the effort!!

Brittany    Baraga, MI

1/5/2013 11:38:57 AM

For those of you who are saying you can't just label a horse into one of these groups and have it fit all the're right. I've been using the Parelli's Natural Horsemanship for 4 years and can tell you that it's purpose is not to "label" a horse, but to allow you to understand how your horse thinks so you know the right way to train them. It's like humans going to the doctor. They asses our symptoms and then slap a label on what's wrong with us even if not all the symptoms are there. It's the same thing with Horsenality. Now if you think this is bunk and don't want to give it a chance, then go ahead, that's your opinion. But I have seen first hand that this works. While I'm willing to look into other horsemanship options, I will continue to refer to the Parellis when I don't know which is the best option for my horse.

Brenda    Clintonville, WI

1/1/2013 5:47:01 PM

When it's not acceptable to voice an opinion it should be stated, I for one appreciate hearing everyone's opinions. I have seen a lot of the Parelli techniques work but I think it is hard to slip a horse into one group. I want to be given all opinions and information so I can form my own opinion. ;)

Equestrian    Springfield, MA

12/26/2011 9:55:52 AM

Where's the science behind this "horsenality" stuff? You can't just slap a label on a horse and expect it to conform to some bogus standard! They don't account for circumstance, environment, skill set ( or mood)of the trainer/handler, among a host of other factors that would effect the horse. I've seen Parelli students question why their horses don't quite fit into a particular personality and the Parelli camp tries to cover that glaring problem by saying "well horses can flip from one to another". So basically you cannot label a horse with any certainty that he will remain in that personality for any predetermined amount of time. What BUNK! They sure are fooling a large number of people. Oddly enough, they do have some sound training methods but let the BUYER beware!! They are a SAVY @ taking your cash. ;)

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