Horse Personalities Inc.


last updated: April 23, 2011


Book Reviews

If you would like a review of Dessa's book posted here send it along.

Leah Fry

  Sun, Jul 11, 2010

No one has ever come close to nailing my Appy's personality except you. I am a middle-aged first-time horse owner (novice rider) and my first horse is a Wild Card. You nailed him, right down to the bucking when I send him out, the sweetness that sucks me in every time, and the fact that he and I work together because I have had to allow him to make certain decisions because of my own ineptitude. I've had him for 4 years and had pretty much formed the same conclusions, but was not able to convey it to anyone else as succinctly as you have done. The only thing I underestimated was the fear factor. At first, I thought he was just a jerk, a bully and hard-headed (and he is). It's only been recently that I have come to understand that all that bluster is just that. He is the reason that I have come as far as I have in as short a time as I have; because I've HAD to.

I am also lucky enough to have a Steady Eddy, who has been my teacher, my rock, and the only reason I have been as successful with my Wild Card as I have been. He's taught me everything so patiently.

Chances are good I will be getting another horse. He's only 4 months old, but already seems like he will be a Goddess or a Steady Eddy.

Thank you so much for a great, insightful read. Do you have a blog? You should!

Marjorie Phillips, Edmonton,Ab.
  Feburary 8,2010

"...a delightful and informative book. I think it is the best I have read on the subject. "
Marjorie Philips

From The Horse's Back
Tips, Tricks, and Tales...
  From The Horse's Back
Dec.15, 2009
Recently, I came across a fun little book called “Is Your Horse a Rock Star? Understanding Your Horse’s Personality.” I’ve always loved taking personality tests and of course I’ve been known to anthropomorphize on occasion. So I was intrigued and excited to hear about this book, written by Dessa Hockley. Dessa owns and operates Liberty Stables in Alberta and has been involved with horses for much of her life. She has used this experience to develop classifications for horse personality types, and offers suggestions for training and building relationships with each type. The premise is similar to the Myers-Briggs personality test used often in psychology. There are four categories: Dominant/Submissive, Energetic/Lazy, Curious/Afraid, Friendly/Aloof. There are a number of questions for you to answer about your horse, such as “Is your horse interested in investigating new objects?” Your answers are compiled to provide a personality type, based on the dominant combinations of the aforementioned traits. There are sixteen cleverly titled variations of traits, like the Rock Star, the Boss, or the Prize Fighter. The book provides a synopsis of each of the types and follows up with general training tips and a section on Do’s and Don’ts for each type.
In addition to the book, Dessa also has a website with information on her stable and workshops that she offers. There is also a chapter excerpt and links to reviews and news articles. One of the most fun things on her site is the horse personality quiz! You can actually take the test online, but you need to get the book to see the complete description and get the training tips. I took the test for Tiny, and she was defined as the Reluctant Rock Star - Dominant, Lazy, Curious, and Friendly. Just as I’d guessed before taking the test! Just for fun, I also took the test for one of my old show horses that I’d had some serious personality conflicts with (Zippo Par Three). Predictably, he was the Macho Man - Dominant, Energetic, Curious, and Aloof. I can’t wait to get the book so I can read the full descriptions and learn some tips on dealing with different horse personalities.
This looks like a great book and a fun topic to explore. It is well written by a horsewoman with a great deal of experience and the illustrations are fantastic! I highly recommend this book for any horse lover that would like to learn more about their horse’s personality.

Fun Little Read,
By Kari Willis "Kari Willis"islandtime"

  Nov 30 2009
This is my first review of any book purchased from Amazon but felt that the author aand illustrator both deverve a good pat on the back. It was fun to read and good informationa as we are in the process of finding our own "perfect" horse. Just for practice I tested both my busband and daughter and have a new appreciation of their personalitites as well!! The days of "man" dominatinating his horse for his own ego driven reasons are definetly making way for horse people wanting to understand and partner with this magnificant animal. Kudos for "Is Your Horse a Rock Star".
Kari, Vancouver Island BC
Canadian Arabian Horse News
  October 2008

This charming little gem should be in every horse owner's barn. To tell the truth, we didn't have high expectations when we first picked it up - many books claiming to give you specific "training secrets" based on your horse's personality have been either non-applicable to our horses or so vague they could have really applied to any horse.

This book, however, is different. Using four combinations of personality traits - dominant/submissive, energetic/lazy, curious/afraid, or friendly/aloof - the book goes through each possible combination of the traits and looks at that horse's personality.

Each personality combo that we've matched to a particular horse has been bang on - sometimes very humorously so; the authors will leave you wondering how they know your horse so well! (That may sound clichéd, but I was shaking my head in amusement - "yup, that's my old gelding, that's my friend's mare, that's two-year-old exactly" - more than once.)

Based on the horse's personality, they then give tips on what types of training will be most effective and what types of sports will be likely to keep them happy the longest. The insights are often unique and may help you think about your particular training challenges in a different way.

D Friesen (Gayle)

October 29, 2009

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed our brief visit to your stables; it has a lovely relaxed and positive atmosphere, and also how helpful your book was to the purchase process, Dessa. I went looking for one of three preferred personality types, and purchased a “Goddess”. He is a doll. Making a huge commitment such as buying a horse
is at least more rewarding when that sort of information is available.
I have always had a sense of horse personalities; probably anyone does who has spend time around a variety of horses... but the book is so succinct, and clear, that it puts a frame around the whole topic.

Debbie Steiger
Didsbury, Alberta

May 23, 2009

The book is just great - I've had lots of lightbulb moments and it helps me understand my horse so much better! She is a People Pleaser. It also helped me realize why some of the horses in my past have been challenges, and underscores what I need to work on myself to be the leader my horse needs. A lot of fun and great information to help me tailor her training and activities, especially understanding how important it is for her to know she is doing a good job.

Temenos Fields,
home of Dressage, Naturally

Karen Rohlf ... Feb.6/09

A student of mine just loaned me your book and it is just wonderful! I especially like how it relates to the Myers-Briggs or Kiersy Temperment sorter for humans ... which I have found extremely enlightening for understanding myself and other humans. As a dressage professional and natural horseman, (check out I am so happy to find such a clear, concise, realistic and practical description of a really subtle and complex subject.

Is Your Horse a Rock Star?
  Me, Mira, and the Racehorse Dude

Mira -
The Goddess is loved by most of the other horses and most people. They are expressive and sensitive and emotional. You will know how they feel. They try very hard to please and will worry and be anxious if you are not happy with them. In the negative they can have scattered energy that is hard to get focused. This personality can be loved on as much as you want.

"This totally describes her. The longer I have her the more I love her because she is fearless about experiences but at the same time super sensitive to me. This is only bad when I'm sick and she gets sick too."

Anatolian -
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.

"I love that it says they are usually at the top of their field (tee hee). I hope he will live up to that that if and when I can ever start riding again! I do know that every time I do anything like work with him he eats it up. He really, really loves work - especially if he can get people laughing.

If you take this test for your horse, please let me know the results! I thought it was very cool.
This is so cool! I just read this article last night and took the test for both Mira and Andolu. I loved their results:

Western Horse Review


Does your horse love to be in the limelight? Strong ego, bordering on cocky, but charming and endearing also? If so, he might be a Rock Star according to author Dessa Hockley, who presents a lighthearted and insightful guide to judging horse personality (or is that horse-onality?) in her new book.

This book is a great read for anyone who wants to make sense of their horse, improve their horse/human relationships and figure out what horses should be doing to get the most out of them. Take the quiz, and if nothing else, it might help you avoid getting bucked off.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this before??, April 7 2008

Mary Mcwhirter (Alberta, Canada)

This wonderful,light hearted book gives a new approach to working with horses. It explores the concept that horses, like humans, come with different personalities. This leads to the and handling methods will differ from horse to horse. It also,of course, helps you choose suitable career paths for each horse. Lots of humour and fun cartoons. Great work Dessa, and I am sure the horses are grateful too.

Dances With Hooves is a small breeding operation specializing in hypoallergenic Curly Sport Horses. We believe in quality rather than quantity, so our few foals are the highest quality babies available today from any curly sport horse breeder. We use successful sport bloodlines, proven in both jumpers, eventing and dressage.

By Elaine: I've studied dressage for almost 25 years. I completed the USDF "L" judges program in the initial pilot and judge schooling shows occasionally. I ride with dressage clinicians when I can. The clinician I admire the most is J. Ashton Moore. His clinics are always amazing and I learn volumes each time I ride with him.

Is Your Horse a Rock Star?

February 16, 2008

I found an interesting little book that I wish I had read YEARS ago, back when I was teaching dressage, when I was working with so many students who were riding a horse that were not suited to their personality. The book is titled: "Is Your Horse a Rock Star" by Dessa Hockley.

What's so great about this book is it basically looks at horses using a simple analysis tool:
Is the horse:
dominant or submissive
energetic or lazy
curious or afraid
friendly or aloof

One of the things that I like best about her method is that she doesn't tie into any particular training fad or methodology, she just defines the personality type and then talks about the challenges, advantages, and suitability of that type. One of the things she delves into is who that personality type often suits the best and how to adapt to that type if you need to change YOUR approach.

The best time to have this information, of course, is BEFORE a person buys a horse and finds they are butting heads with that same horse. But it is also useful afterwards, assuming a person is willing to try to adapt their behavior and style to the horse than they already own.

I used to think that the rescues that came to live with me were the clear and simply product of poor handling and poor training. I still feel that way, but I can see from this book, exactly what mistakes those "poor trainers" made. It's been fun to do a quick analysis of all the horses in my barn and get a feel for what type of person they are best suited for. I think this could be an excellent tool to help match the right horse with the right rider, however I suspect some "buyers" will not want to be told that Old Faithful is better suited to their personality than their first choice, Hot Stuff...

At any rate, it's a fun read and has great potential to help a lot of horses, IF their humans are willing to make some changes in their approach. In many cases, humans feel that the horse should be adaptable and change to fit the human's style, but honestly, that often just doesn't happen and the end result is that everyone is miserable.

So, hats off to Dessa Hockley for trying to put all of this into clear perspective and help people see why there can be so much variation between horses, even of the same breed.

To top

Nicole L. Defelice February 29, 2008

I recently read Is Your Horse a Rockstar and was pleased with the content although detailed training instruction was not incorporated. I am new to horses and am always looking for new information on communication and training. With this book, it helped me narrow down the personality of my horse so I can better understand what type of training methods will work best with her.

Gloria Kadlec February 13, 2008

The book was awesome. Always knew that each one of our horses had a different personality. Nice to be able to has a reference to go to when you purchase another horse or have that sweet little baby running around that seems not so sweet after all.


Mr. Scorbles January 17, 2008

This is a great book! I really enjoyed reading it and thought that the different personalities rang true for a number of horses that I have encountered and owned.

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