If you’ve been around horses long enough, you’ve inevitably picked up on the fact that no two creatures are exactly cut from the same cloth. Each animal comes complete with its own personality “quirks” and preferences. Stay in the industry long enough, and you’ll start to notice similar traits and typecast each new horse you encounter.
As with humans, horses fall into multiple personality profiles or variations of them. If you can determine which “type” of animal you’re dealing with, it becomes easier to produce “solutions” or at the very least a better understanding of what fresh horse hell you can expect from that particular creature.
At the end of a long day, any little idiot who decides to carve out a life attempting to translate and comprehend the thought processes of a toddleresque 1,200-pound emotionally unstable feces machine has their own problems to work out.
Nevertheless, below is a compiled list of some basic personality profiles you may encounter on your perilous journey into the soul sucking, wondrous world of horsemanship. Let’s begin…
This special little star is commonly associated with Thoroughbreds, though can be found in all breeds. Many attribute this personality type to trauma early in life, but seriously, some are just born that way.
Literally, they come out counting feed pellets and hearing voices. Neurotic babies seem to have trouble connecting to other horses and are often observed far from the herd, playing with their imaginary friends and grooming the barn goat.
They resent being touched and enjoy playing the “your hands are lava” game during grooming. They can move every muscle in their body independently to avoid contact with a curry comb while balancing on three legs and holding one up in the salty cobra coil position. Just making sure you know they could wig out at any moment! (But probably they won’t because they are wussy hot mess expresses. Woo, wooooo all aboard the crazy train, don’t forget your helmets.)
They stall-walk in the barn and pace in the field. Any minor disturbance in their daily routine will result in an immediate hunger strike. New horse in the barn? Off their feed. New vet? Off their feed. It’s cloudy? Off their feed.
Neurotics are A-mazing at incurring mystery injuries, and most of the quality time you’ll spend with them will involve Vetrap.
- Most Neurotics are extremely intelligent and, depending on what personality they wake up with, can master training concepts relatively easily.
- The astronomically high cost of ulcer medication. Which you will need. All of the time.
- Occasional self-mutilation.
Tips: Let me know when you come up with some.
The “El Chapo”
These hedonistic little cretins often appear in the smallest of packages. A personality disorder predominantly found in small ponies, and even more commonly in mini-horse mutants, the El Chapo presents challenges for even the most skilled horsemen/women.
A Napoleon complex paired with an insatiable lust for food and freedom, these pint-sized peons are often given to small children by parents who we can only assume are terrible people, or wish to encourage their young to be doctors and lawyers and not pursue a career in crap management.
The circumference of a tiny Chapo hoof may seem to work in your favor, but once kicked by one (and you will be), you’ll discover that, in fact, what they lack in surface area they make up for in accuracy. In addition, their low center of gravity means the well-placed kick will literally land “below the belt.”
They are master escape artists, liberating themselves from stalls, cross-ties and paddocks. They will roll under wire, climb over coops, and squeeze their well marbled bodies between fence boards as needed during greener pasture investigations.
You will be warned to keep them off grass for fear of founder, but no one will tell you how. Muzzles can help, but more times than not the clever little monster will convince a pasture mate to remove it. And during the brief moments it’s worn, he will utilize it as a face club to bludgeon you with. “You can take our grass, but you’ll never take OUR FREEDOM!” (Picture a Mel Gibson-face-painted pony in dirt lot.)
- They’re cute?
- You don’t have to feed them.
- How much time ya got?
Tips: Don’t look them directly in the eye.
These lethargic beasts often present themselves in larger “working breeds” (oh the irony), though it is not uncommon for the sloth gene to transcend all shapes and sizes.
This gentle genetic masterpiece can be found in his well bedded stall or sun soaked pasture—asleep. Sleep is his natural state, and often you’ll find your eyes searching fieldward at his potato-like nap formation, looking for signs of life.
Not to worry—he will take a long deep breath every 5-10 minutes. His deathlike sleep state will alarm neighbors and barn children alike, and you may receive concerned phone calls about the horse corpse in your field. You assure them he’s fine, just sleeping, but when they protest you may have to insist they go over and throw feed at the body and bear witness to the miracle of snack re-animation.
You make believers of them when your sloth-zombie horse springs to life, horrifying the feed-throwers as he lazily pursues them through his field.
Death notices aside, your physique has never been tighter than when you force your Sloth horse into consistent work. Chuck Norris himself would respect the full body workout required to propel the Sloth into any gait other than snail. You will literally use every muscle in your body to maintain impulsion, and by the time you’ve finished a full 20 meters at the canter, you’ll have to stop to throw up.
You may be concerned an animal that sleeps the majority of its life may not be meeting nutritional requirements, but not to worry—he grazes laying down and has the metabolism of a reticulated ball python.
- You don’t need to feed it.
- Too lazy to spook.
- Will work for treats.
- Your ass looks amazing.
- Panicked death phone calls from strangers.
Tips: Your Sloth is a unicorn among horses—join him for stall naps and snack breaks to promote inner peace and happiness. Trust me, they’re like 1,000-pound spirit guides. Eat that noise up.
This “friendly” personality can be found in mares of all shapes and sizes. This ambitious girl is focused on one thing besides mints, and that is to find an unsuspecting victim to father her illegitimate children.
It doesn’t matter that her chosen love prey is a gelding, another mare, a horrified child or Honda CR-V, she will slink on up to them and show them the goods—aggressively. She isn’t discouraged by your horrified protests of, “Cupcake, NO! Do NOT do it! That is a Chrysler not a house fire! GROSS!”
- She has neat tricks like running backwards through the arena at other lesson ponies.
- Your horse is a total hooker.
The Pepé Le Pew
This perverse little Romeo is the yin to the strumpet’s yang. They can also be found in all breeds. Though most unaltered males fall into this category, castration doesn’t necessarily discourage the advances of this heartsick French crooner. His enthusiastic courtship song can be heard from space.
He is turned on by life itself. Unfortunately Pepés have more external parts than Strumpets, occasionally hanging their “hearts” on their sleeves, or right out of their sheaths. Barn kids will ask some pretty serious questions like, “Can he drink from his trunk?” To which you reply, “Yes. Yes he can.”
- ”Trunk” cleaning has never been easier!
- Your horse needs to stay 100 yards away from playgrounds.
Tips: Pepés should avoid exposure to the following: mares, geldings, geldings that look like mares, donkeys, goats, foals, round bales, farm equipment, rolltops, cows and most of all, other Pepés.
If you studied Charles Darwin in school, you will be familiar with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by natural selection. “Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive.”
Clearly your suicidal Darwin horse has zero heritable traits worth passing on, and if left to his own devices definitely would not survive long enough to reproduce. He proves this theory daily by trying to murder himself in increasingly creative ways.
This is the horse that happily ingests plastic bags, topical ointment tubes and the vet’s syringes. He skillfully traps his feet in fencing, stall webbings, halters, hay nets, tack and feed tubs. He will seek out poisonous plants and toss them back like chilled Patrón. You know in your heart that if you were to set him free, the determined little lemming that he is would head straight for the nearest cliff, Interstate or partially frozen body of water.
The only thing standing between him and a really stupid death, is you. His sheer determination to end his own idiotic life would leave most humans throwing their hands up in exasperated defeat, but not you. You hate yourself enough to never give up; you grab that natural disaster horse by the face and in true General Hospital form yell, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LIVE!!!”
- It’s never boring?
- You clearly hate yourself.
Tips: A different psychiatrist?
No one knows where the heathen came from, but public opinion dictates it’s probably very warm there. He goes by many names—you just call him The Dark Lord.
He may be a relatively attractive equine specimen, but you can’t really tell because his ears never leave his skull, and he’s usually glaring menacingly at you from the dark corners of his stall lair. You have to keep a traffic cone in front of his door to prevent future maulings.
Sometimes you throw treats into the darkness as peace offerings, but it seems he’d much rather sample human flesh. Your friends may ask why anyone would ever keep such a repugnant demon, but the truth is you can’t afford an exorcism, you’ve grown oddly fond of him, and honestly you don’t hate anyone enough to burden them with the little beastie.
- You’ll develop puma-like reflexes while dodging teeth and hooves.
- You can only hug him during vet visits requiring sedation—it feels like you’re taking advantage of a cheap date, so you do it every time.
Tips: Find a farm that offers self care to avoid being charged with manslaughter.
There is one in every barn—that perfect creature whose owner is jealously hated by literally everyone. Fortunately, if you happen to be that owner you don’t give one single expletive because you are living the freakin’ equestrian dream.
This horse makes everything else in the barn look like dirty laundry. He is kind, patient and athletic. An architectural horse masterpiece. You ask him to jump, he asks how high, how many strides, and if you’d like an iced chai latte. Your boyfriend will never live up to the standards set by your Saint horse, and you discourage him from trying. “Really Kevin?” It’s pathetic.
- All of the pros.
- NONE OF THE CONS.
Tips: I hate you as well.
For every human, there is a horse. Whether it be a complete genetic disaster, sexual deviant, heathen, saint or sloth, that thing is yours, and chances are you wouldn’t have it any other way.
A wise horseman once said, “The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.”
What do you see in the mirror?
Alice Peirce was raised as a self-described “feral horse farm child” in Howard County, Maryland. She’s made efforts to leave the horse world over the years but always comes back and has worked for a number of people in various disciplines. Currently she’s riding young race horses and training foxhunters in Monkton, Maryland, where she hunts with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt.