Horse Personalities Inc.


last updated: December 4, 2011

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From-Dessa Hockley
Date: Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 11:31 AM
Subject: Re: Horse Personalities
To: Tara Klager
Hi...good to hear about your horse. I will answer within the letter so I can refer to what you are saying.

On Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 9:23 AM, Tara Klager wrote:

Good Morning ,I have just finished reading your book "Is Your Horse A Rock Star" and taken the quiz included at the back. I have come to the conclusion that my 13 year old QH gelding is either a Wallflower or a People Pleaser. It's very difficult to tell because when it comes to Lazy/Energetic, Rudy is right in the middle. He pitches back and forth depending on the day, if the sun is shining, if he's eaten or hasn't eaten, if he's feeling spunky or not, whether his girlfriend is nearby or isn't . . a hundred variables.

Wallflowers and PP can be very similar as the wallflowers get energy up when their afraid is activated. Either way it is the Afraid that needs to be honoured. Lots of quiet repetition and making them feel safe.


He's also kind of borderline on the Friendly/Aloof scale. Though I think he's definitely Friendly, we are dealing with some issues that stem from past abuse which has made him a little distrustful of 'those people'. He adores children and has bonded quite closely with another QH mare in the herd (which currently sits at 10 horses) which inclines me to think that he is indeed a Friendly guy. Occasionally he will call out a greeting when he sees me though he doesn't come to the gate to say hello.

Likely friendly by the sounds of things....the children thing is interesting as I know of a few that are sooooo good with kids and it is because they feel safe and the best part is even though they can be kind of volatile with adults, they are real caretakers when it comes to children. hard for parents to trust that though when they have seen them loose it with adults. Small safe places work good for both.


My question to you is this - because of his past situation, I don't want to round pen him too much. He has been round penned excessively and in a very domineering way. His anxiety level is very apparent when in the round pen and when a crop is anywhere close to him. He's particularly skittish about the crop on his left side. We do play a lot of leadership games and he's quite happy to accept me as leader - I can draw him well, he lets me lift all four feet, we have a good rapport. But since round penning isn't really an option for this little guy, are there any other ways I can show him (because he wants to see consistent proof) that he will be listened to?
So much damage has been done in the round pen I would like to dismantle them all. If you have a relationship that is built on trust you really do not need one. This may sound unusual but we have really been working on some new theories at Liberty this past couple of years and now some of the things I said in the book we are questioning as well. One is our belief  that we need to be the leader. Referring back to how this type of horse is with children we see them being safe to be around and it is not because the children are good is the complete opposite and that is the new directions that we are experimenting with. The trust is built by allowing them to be the leader or more to the point in control.
I have a talk I do now on Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome and how most horses are suffering from the same thing. A doctor is working with this in our area and presented it to me and it is fascinating. How she treats people is exactly the way we have been treating horses that are needing to recover from abuse. She had the scientific reason why our method was working. As we started doing this we realized that almost all training techniques put them into some level of withdrawal or shut down. So we needed to know how to turn this around so the real horse could come out to play. See how I am going on about this....sorry but exciting new stuff.
So, some other ways to build trust is hanging out with them in their environment until they feel safe to go with you and be with you on their terms. The minute that they feel anxiety coming in take them back to safety. You may be barely outside their gate. Be the child when you play with them and then they will feel safe enough they will come out and play. My Wallflower is the grey one in the video on horse personalities on You Tube, if you have seen that one. Very timid but now she will take me for little rides with nothing on. She likes to look after me. That is another important thing in this is asking them for what you keeping you safe. I love how you say that he wants proof again and again that he will be safe....only natural if you have had all your power taken away. Just keep listening on deeper and deeper levels.


I know that Wallflowers are comparatively rare in the horse world but it seems to me that I have one. Rudy is an engaging, thinking horse. When presented with a new idea, he needs lots and lots of time to chew it over. Sometimes I despair that he'll ever get it and then come back a few days later to find that he's doing it perfectly. He needs processing time and lots and lots and LOTS of reassurance.
My Wallflower was so slow to learn I thought she had a learning disability, but I finally figured out that stress was making it almost impossible for her to listen...just like us. With trust she is very sensitive and smart. I find you ask and wait and then leave it alone, you do not add more pressure as their brain totally turns off as emotion comes in....hard for us not to get stronger when we are not getting what we perceive to be the right answer. This is very similar to what a lot of children experience in school.
Any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated. I'm considering 'clicker' training - as with every other boy I've ever met, Rudy is totally food-motivated! - and am not under any time constraints at all. I am quite content to take things slow and easy and simply enjoy the process.
Love where you are coming from here....enjoy the process....that is what it is all about and the greatest thing that horses in general teach be in the moment. Clicker training is very effective to help them understand that they are doing the right thing and to help them get back into the left side of their brain when they are reactive or right brained. Hope this has helped some and keep in touch with your progress.


Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you soon,




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