Horse Personalities Inc.


last updated; April 23, 2011


News Articles

Horse Radio Network
Glenn the Geek
September 17,2009
April 26, 2009
By Sherry Butt
The Mane Event Red Deer Alberta, 2009
It was standing room only at Dessa Hockley's entertaining seminar about how to determine your horse's personality. Based on her popular book," Is Your Horse a Rock Star? Understanding Your Horse's Personality", Hockley outlined 16 different personality types for horses.

04/26/09 Read full story> The Mane Event Shownews 2009

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Hugh Mc Lennan
Spirit of the West
Weekends of Jan.17/09 & Jan.24/09

Hugh has a fascinating conversation with Dessa Hockley, and you can hear part of it on this week's show.

"Is Your Horse a Rock Star?" is the title of Dessa Hockley's new book and it's a fascinating look at the various types of horse personalities. Dessa is Hugh's guest and they'll have a great time putting horses (and politicians) into the various categories. Great music, spell binding cowboy poetry and the Rangeland news to keep you listening.

Hugh's well known Buckskin Mare "Lucky the Wonder Horse" is at home working cattle, dragging calves to the fire, or performing with Hugh in all kinds of situations. This week Dessa Hockley will analyze Lucky's personality type. ( She politely declined to do the same for Hugh.)

"This week the author of the book "Is Your Horse a Rock Star? Dessa Hockley returns to examine the personality type of Hugh's buckskin mare Lucky The Wonder Horse. Lots of surprising information on Horse behavior is the the result. The Rangeland News gives ranchers some long awaited hope for better times. There's a great music list and a real life look at a cowboy, a broncy colts and a cell phone."

Author identifies equine characters
Happy Trails
By Kathleen Winfield

Is your horse a rock star?
That is the question being asked by Dessa Hockley in her new book," Is Your Horse A Rock Star? Understanding Your Horses’s Personality."

I had the pleasure of attending a clinic hosted by Dessa at Liberty Stables near Millarville where she discussed her techniques and methods of determining what personality a horse has, and then she suggested training techniques to help your horse learn what you want him to learn.

She brought several horses into the arena and worked with each of them (horses were loose, no halters or bridles) and demonstrated many of the traits she talks about in her book.

Dessa has spent a great deal of time studying a large number of horses and has come up with 16 personality types based on a combination of basic personality traits. The expressive names of the personality types include such characters as Rock Star, Goddess, People Pleaser and Lone Wolf. In her book, there is a chapter dedicated to each personality type with characteristics, suggested training techniques, suggested suitable careers for that type and outstanding illustrations by cartoonist Dave Elston.

Most of us who have worked with horses have figured out through trial and error that some learn differently than others and that we have to modify our techniques to match learning styles. Dessa’s book provides us with a method of identifying the different personalities and helps match technique to personality. It is written in an entertaining, easy to read format so can be enjoyed by a variety of horse enthusiasts.

So, how do you determine the personality of your horse? Dessa provides several options. The first is to define the personality based on determining which four of eight basic traits apply to your horse. Identify whether your horse is Dominant (D) or Submissive (S), Energetic (E) or Lazy (L), Curious (C) or Afraid (A), Friendly (F) or Aloof (A). There are descriptions of what each of the traits are and how to identify them in your horse. For example if you have a dominant, energetic, curious and friendly (DECF) equine, he would fall into the Rock Star category. A Rock Star is a confident and charismatic horse who is expressive and strong minded. According to Dessa, “They love to show you what they know but are hard to get to focus on the small details of the task.”

The book then goes on to suggest the do’s and don'ts for each personality.

Another option is to take the Personality Quiz. This is composed of a series of questions where you assign a score to the answer of each question. For example, “Does your horse frequently graze separately from the herd?” You would score zero (never or unsure), one (sometimes), two (usually) or three (always). At the end of the quiz, Dessa provides an analysis of the score to determine a personality type.

A third option is to go to the website and take the quiz there. At the end of the quiz, the personality type will be displayed along with a description of suggested training activities.
A fourth option is read the various chapters in the book that describe each personality and determine which one fits best with your horse.

You may ask, “Why should I care whether my horse is a Rock Star or a Wallflower?” You should care if you want to be the best you can be with your horse and you want to get the best performance from your horse. The training tips and techniques suggested by Dessa will contribute to a better relationship if you match the suitable tips and techniques with the personality.

If you have been struggling trying to achieve something with your horse then perhaps reading this book will promote some thoughts and ideas on alternatives that may provide you with more success.

Is Your Horse A Rock Star? is available at book stores in Cochrane, or contact Dessa at 931-3438.

In the meantime, go hang out with your horse and figure out what personality traits are dominant in your horse — maybe you have a Rock Star in your pasture!

Kathleen Winfield is an Equine Canada certified driving coach who teaches clinics.

Copyright © 2008 Cochrane Eagle.

Tuesday February 12, 2008
By Evan Careen

High River Times

Is your Horse a Rock Star?

That’s the title of a book written by Millarville resident Dessa Hockley that tells you what type of personality your horse has, based on a series of questions.

Hockley got the idea from the Myers-Brigg test, where human personalities are divided into categories based on a personality questionnaire.

“I just got thinking about horses’ personalities and if they could be typed,” Hockley said. “Then, I did research on about 500 horses and found it absolutely amazing.

“Originally, I was’t writing a book about horses. I was just playing with this and I found it so fascinating.” In the book, Hockley divides the horses into 16 different personality types, with such colorful names as Macho Man and Steady Eddie. The personality of the horse is based on eight different traits derived from 50 different questions.

Each personality has a cartoon accompanying it, done by former Calgary Sun sports cartoonist Dave Elston. Western Horse Review will be using one of the cartoons every month in its magazine.
Hockley has been working with horses her whole life and is the owner and operator of Liberty Stables outside of Millarville. She teaches basic English riding for the past 20 years and has taught Western riding in the past.

“It ended up being a real advantage, since I galloped race horses when I was younger,” Hockley said.
“It was an advantage writing the book, since I’ve done so many different sports. In the book, I type which type of horses would be best for different sports, so it will help people when they’re selecting a horse for a sport -- what types of personalities would be better for the beginner horse, for the novice horse and for the sport horse.”

Hockley said it took her about four years to write the book, a year of research and the rest of the time putting the book together. She never imagined she would write a book.
“I never thought I was a writer,” Hockley said. “People tell me that’s something they love about it. It’s written very simply and easy to understand. It’s written with humor, and I used a lot of stories to illustrate what I mean.”
Hockley sells the book at trade shows and said it’s been very well-received. The book is available on, The Mill in Okotoks and Cowboy Country clothing store in Nanton.

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Jan. 10/08:
Is your horse a Wild Card or Rock Star?
By Wendy Dudley
Freelance writer

  Lila Zentner - Librarian
The Western Producer
Box 2500
Saskatoon, SK S7K 2C4

MILLARVILLE, Alta. — Do you have a rock star grazing in your field? Or perhaps a people-pleaser or an easy-going steady Eddie?

Horse owners know their mounts have personalities, but horse trainer and riding instructor Dessa Hockley has taken that knowledge another step. Each time she sees a new horse, she studies its personality, and how it behaves with its rider and other horses. What she observes becomes the foundation for how that horse will be motivated and schooled.

"I don't take the approach that one style of training fits all horses. They need to be treated as individuals. You're not going to handle a dominant and energetic horse the same way that you're going to handle a submissive and fearful horse," Hockley said from her Liberty Stables west of Millarville, Alta., where she rehabilitates horses and teaches English and western riding.

Hockley has developed personality profiling for equines, an approach that helps determine how to handle different horses and what kind of work will best suit the animal.

Her recently published book, Is Your Horse a Rock Star? outlines her methods and includes a quiz to help horse owners determine the various personalities living in their barns.

"It also helps in buying horses, to know what personality you should be looking for," she said.
By categorizing a horse as dominant or submissive, energetic or lazy, curious or fearful, friendly or aloof, she identified 16 different personality types, ranging from the rock star, with dominant, energetic, curious and friendly traits to the opposite —   the lone wolf.

In training rock stars, a rider needs to keep them active and mentally engaged and expose them to a variety of activities. This is the classic sport horse. But the lone wolf requires repetition and a slow and patient approach, best suited to its submissive, lazy and aloof personality.”

What's the most difficult horse to train?

“Probably the wild card,” Hockley said, describing a horse that is dominant, energetic and friendly, but also afraid, which makes it unpredictable. “Mix fear and strong-mindedness, and this is a horse that can easily become a runaway.

Generally, horses that are dominant yet fearful, work best at one job, thriving on repetition and feeling safe.
A well-trained and content horse can be difficult to profile, Hockley said, because its traits are modified.
"You don't see extremes in them. For example, you won't change a dominant into a submissive, but they can be softened. They're nicely balanced."

Hockley also analyzes her riding students.

"Some riders just can't get along with their horses. For example, if you're a dominant and controlling type of person, you may run into trouble with a dominant and controlling horse. You're going to be fighting each other all the time."

A strong horse needs to periodically display its dominance, Hockley said, acknowledging that this goes against conventional training methods that emphasize the rider must always be boss.

"Sometimes you need to surrender to a horse's dominance. He'll get frustrated if he can't show that side of his personality."

Submissive riders also don't fare as well with submissive horses, she added.

"Someone needs to show leadership. A rider needs to be there for the submissive horse, to give it security."

Known by some as the "crazy horse lady," Hockley grew up on a mixed farm in northern Manitoba and was drawn to the West through cowboy images in the Western Horseman magazine.

She worked on the Eric Lawrence ranch in Maple Creek, Sask., cutting cows and exercising its racehorses by galloping them over hills.

"I'd loved to have been a jockey, but I was only 97 pounds and that was too light."

She later moved to the Calgary area, where she managed a horse barn and participated in all-girl rodeos. In 1978, she was crowned champion Canadian cow rider.

"Those were crazy days," she laughed. She went on to compete in three-day eventing, eventually settling into training horses and teaching students.

In dealing with a mix of horses, she discovered many did not respond to routine training methods.
"You'd be standing there, wondering why nothing was working on a particular horse. Or why this horse that was so friendly would go right out there and buck you off."

It was author Jane Smiley who inspired Hockley to profile horses.

"In her book, A Year at the Races, there's a chapter on horse person-alities. That's when the light went on that there could be something to this, like the Myers-Briggs personality test for people," Hockley said.

She received permission from Smiley to develop the idea into a book. Is Your Horse a Rock Star? is available through

Hockley intends to spend this year promoting her book at various equine trade shows and conferences.
"But then I must get back to work," she said. "I have a barn to run."

Adobe Reader version. Western Producer opens in Adobe Reader

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March 2008
Horses All
Is Your Horse a People Pleaser or a Prize Fighter?
by Wendy Dudley

  Equine News & Information

Does your horse walk all over you or is he shy and sweet?  Do you have to push him along, or hold him back?  Do the two of you waltz together, or fight it out like you were in the boxing ring?

Welcome to the world of equine personalities; all 16 of them, according to horse trainer and riding instructor Dessa Hockley who has just published her book, Is Your Horse a Rock Star?

Knowing which personality your horse has can help you develop a proper training program to suit his strengths and weaknesses, and determine in which activity he will most likely excel.

“After all, not all horses are suitable for jumping or cutting cattle.  And you may have a horse that is great for arena work but can’t handle being out on a trail,” says Hockley, who teaches English and Western riding and trains horses at her Liberty Stables, west of Millarville, Ab.

Hockley has developed a system of equine profiling that has helped her rehabilitate horses, and improve relationships between horses and their riders.

“Part of it is accepting who they are, just like we accept that people have different personalities.  It’s also about teaching people to have fun with their horses.  Recognize who they are and find the humor in them.  Sometimes we forget to have fun with our horses.”

Hockley’s system, similar to the Myers – Briggs personality test for people, categorizes horses as dominant or submissive; energetic or lazy; curious or afraid; and aloof or friendly.

The various combinations result in 16 different personalities. They range from the Rock Star (who flaunts the dominant, energetic, curious and friendly traits) to the Lone Wolf who is submissive, lazy, afraid and aloof.

It’s not that one type is preferred over the other  -----  each has its strengths ------  but knowing the personality of your horse can solve a lot of the training and riding problems. says Hockley.  “There are a lot of horses left to stand in the fields because their owners have given up.  They don’t know what to do with them because they don’t know how to handle them.”

And many of them are dominant horses, she notes.  “If you are a dominant, controlling type of person you may have a problem with a horse that is the same type.  The two of you are going to be fighting it out, butting heads all the time.” 

This doesn’t mean that the bossy energetic horse should be allowed to side pass his manners, but he must be given the opportunity to display these traits or else he will be frustrated and continually be in battle – mode, she says.  Try turning him loose with a heard so he can boss away; that way, he will be more willing to listen to you when saddled.

This approach often proves difficult for riders who believe the conventional wisdom that they must always be the boss of their horse, but if you occasionally surrender to the dominant horse and allow him the freedom to choose, the results can be worth it, she says.
A little less dominant is the Reluctant Rock Star.  The only difference from the Rock Star is a ……
(continued on Horses All part 2) Adobe Reader Horses All part 1
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Adobe reader Horses All part 2

lazy trait, making it difficult to motivate.

“We had a horse in here that jumps at Spruce Meadows, but he’d become a handful.  We started just taking him out on trail rides, so he could get into the game of no expectations,” recalls Hockley.  “He loved it, and before too long, he was interested in jumping again.”

While the dominant horses are usually the most athletic, not everyone wants or needs a power horse in their barn.  In fact, many people prefer People Pleasers, the sweet and soft horses that are submissive, energetic, afraid and friendly.

Yet they too can become problematic if not matched with the right rider.  “Horses that are submissive and afraid need direction.  They need to be in that safety box, to feel the contact of your leg and the bit.  For them to feel secure, they need you to show leadership.”

Just as owners need to know what personality types are in their barns they should be honest in knowing their own traits.  “Sometimes certain horses and certain riders just aren’t good a match.”  By determining the personality that best suits your style and experience, a rider is more likely to make a wise purchase.

Hockley’s book, available through, includes a quiz for readers to determine their horse’s personalities, as well as advice on how to train each type, including the use of round pens, clickers and dominant leading exercises.

Written with sensitivity and humor, Hockley salutes each type as being worthy, though she admits some are more difficult than others to train.

For example, the Wild Card is a dominant, energetic and friendly horse.  So far, that sounds good.  But add the fearful side and you have a mixed bag.  Sweet and charming one moment, exploding the next, and then suffering a melt down.

If there is a horse that can take away a riders confidence, this is it, as it is tricky to deal with its dominance when it’s coming undone because of fear.

Do you get on its case or do you go soft to settle its fears?  “That’s why they’re tough.  They want to be in control and be the boss, but at the same time they see monsters everywhere.” says Hockley.
This kind of horse requires repetition and does well in a single job where he feels safe, such as reining or dressage.

The Rock Star, on the other hand, comes with a big ego and does best with a variety of disciplines.

Then there’s the Prize Fighter (dominant, lazy, curious, aloof), a horse that excels in the show ring, but also wins in battling the rider.  Its aloof trait translates into a job-oriented attitude, with little interest in being pampered.  These competitive equines shine in polo, barrel racing, roping and jumping.

More interested in a safe and reliable mount, suitable for novices?  Search out the Steady Eddy.
Its submissive, lazy, curious traits, make this horse a joy to be around ---- the perfect pleasure horse.

Hockley was inspired to write her book after reading Nobel-prize winning author Jane Smiley’s book, A Year at the Races, in which she devotes a chapter to various horse personalities.  “It just made sense to me,” says Hockley who has worked with ranch horses, jockeyed racehorses, and competed in eventing.

In earlier years she even rode cows in all-girl rodeos, and was crowned Canada’s champion cow rider in 1978.  “I started thinking of all the various horses I’d trained and realized I could fit them into these types.  It explained why some horses responded so well to a way of training, while others reacted so differently to the same method.”

Hockley received permission from Smiley, who also wrote Horse Heaven, to pursue the topic further. 

Since the book’s publication in December, she has been traveling to various clinics and shows, promoting this unique training philosophy.  She also offers courses at her stables.  For more information, check her web site at

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Determining horse personalities
Book helps owners to better understand steeds
Simon Ducatel

Wednesday March 19, 2008


Nanton News
Nanton, Alberta


Having been with horses for a lifetime, Dessa Hockley has become something of a connoisseur when it comes to assessing their behaviour.

“That just comes with 30 years of working with them,” she said.

The trainer originally took notes for herself, but got encouragement from others who thought she should translate her ideas into a book. .......article continued at the Nanton News web site.

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