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When Does Personality Really Appear in Horses?

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  • When Does Personality Really Appear in Horses?

    By what age do you think foals develop their personality?
    I have heard good and bad things about the personality of other foals by Voltaire. My baby, so far, is one of the quietest horses, let alone foals, I have ever been around.
    He is almost 4 months old. If he were to be one of the crazy ones, is it likely to have already shown up? Will he hit puberty and turn whacko? Anyone else have general experience in this, and particular experience with Voltaire babies?
    He has been handled daily since birth by very experienced people, and has always been treated well, so whatever his temperament turns out to be, it won't be worse for his interaction with people (I hope to keep it that way).

  • #2
    Mine

    I have two homebreds. I was there at their birth and have raised them since. One is 5 and one is 4 and they are full sisters. They are nothing alike and have had the same basic personalities since birth.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

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    • #3
      My filly is three now and her personality is the same from day one. I too was there at her birth. She has always been very bold and curious and if allowed, could be pushy. She is not allowed. She is very confident and lets you know she should be the center of attention at all times.

      Comment


      • #4
        Their personality is expressed from the onset. However, whether the foal is quiet or more alert/reactive, doesn't necessarily indicate how they will respond to training. You can only evaluate your foal's response to "training" by how he/she responds to being haltered, led, handled, putting a bit of pressure on and the response to that is more indicative of how they will respond later on when the real training starts. I've seen some very sweet, easy going horses on the ground, but when they are asked to work or do something outside the comfort zone, you find out what they are all about. JMHO -- good luck!
        PennyG

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        • #5
          My new vet said something interesting last week. He told me that the best predictor of personality in horses that he has seen is to put them out for gelding, and then watch how they wake up. The ones who spring up and look around like something is going to eat them will be nervous and high-strung under saddle. The ones who take their time and let you help them get their legs into position will be the quiet, easy-going ones under saddle. He said he has never seen it fail.

          I hope he is right, because when we gelded my boy we had to drag him back up so the vet could leave. He was more than content to just stay laying on the ground.

          I personally think that, as with any animal, they are what they are when they are born. You can teach them skills to help cope with the demands we put on them, but their basic nature will always be the same. When they are frightened or stressed, they will always revert back to that same basic nature.

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          • #6
            Our Anglo Trakehner was a hoot from day 1. He was having a good time in my lap, even before his hindquarters were delivered!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by bassy View Post
              By what age do you think foals develop their personality?
              I have heard good and bad things about the personality of other foals by Voltaire. My baby, so far, is one of the quietest horses, let alone foals, I have ever been around.
              He is almost 4 months old. If he were to be one of the crazy ones, is it likely to have already shown up? Will he hit puberty and turn whacko? Anyone else have general experience in this, and particular experience with Voltaire babies?
              He has been handled daily since birth by very experienced people, and has always been treated well, so whatever his temperament turns out to be, it won't be worse for his interaction with people (I hope to keep it that way).
              Well personality and work ethic are not the same thing. I think the basic personality is there from the get go: high strung/bold/etc.
              I have a mare that is a very sweet/huggable sort and loves attention in the barn. Her work ethic is not so good and we have spent a year now trying to work past that and are finally getting somewhere....compounded by the fact she thinks the Boogie Man lives behind every tree.
              As to Voltaire in particular....I have known 2 direct Voltaire sons. One is a sweetie in the barn (he is the barn clown) but under saddle he is a difficult ride. The other can be nice or can be nasty in the barn as the whim hits him (the whim to be bad is primarily when he is pushed to do something he does not want to do) and is also a difficult ride. Both have brains that fry easily under stress/are prone to meltdowns. And FWIW neither can jump very well.
              Providence Farm
              http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Yep, as the breeders have said, personality is just dang BORN into them! Work ethic and such come later. I have also noticed that the way in which the foal is raised for years 1 and 2 has a lot to do with how they live the rest of their lives, if they generally have responsibility for manners but also freedom and fun they seem to adjust better to "work" then the foals who are never touched OR the ones who were overmanaged. Just my humble opinion.

                My favorite filly (Blythewood Pop Quiz, 05 Morgan) was born sweet and cuddly and willing to follow direction (had to show her where the milk bar was for the first few meals) and now shows the same persona about human interaction in regards to the first saddle work etc. I wish I had the funds to purchase and maintain her for my own pleasure. A doll from day 1!
                Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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                • #9
                  I think they always have the same personality, unless something drastic happens which makes them more skitty etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    personality

                    Wow, love seeing the views on this. So very interesting. I have a 3 yr. old by my stallion that as a yrling, I was ready to give her away. Great mover, good looking...and the brain of a gnat. super spooky and reactive, hard way to go w/everything(so unlike anything else on the farm)..then she turned 2..I had a different pony. Sweet, easy going...like a light bulb went off in her tiny brain. First time u/s, she did w/t/c, all business and a great work ethic. As Wynn always tells me, "Don't judge them too soon."
                    Fox Ridge

                    Champ. Welsh Lands End The Colonels Fox
                    Fox Ridge Welsh ponies on fb

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                    • #11
                      Personality is there from birth, but much of their behavior is influenced by their dam.
                      Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                      "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

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                      • #12
                        The personality vs. work ethic goes both ways too. We have had a couple horses here that did not have the nicest personalities in the barn (one just wanted to be left alone/was a loner/didn't like grooming and being fussed over......and the other could be a downright witch) but both were all business under saddle and great horses to ride.
                        Providence Farm
                        http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bassy View Post
                          By what age do you think foals develop their personality?
                          I have heard good and bad things about the personality of other foals by Voltaire. My baby, so far, is one of the quietest horses, let alone foals, I have ever been around.
                          He is almost 4 months old. If he were to be one of the crazy ones, is it likely to have already shown up? Will he hit puberty and turn whacko? Anyone else have general experience in this, and particular experience with Voltaire babies?
                          He has been handled daily since birth by very experienced people, and has always been treated well, so whatever his temperament turns out to be, it won't be worse for his interaction with people (I hope to keep it that way).
                          They literally arrive with their full personalities in tact. You can train them up a bit but they are who they are from the moment they are hatched. My most difficult baby was halfway out and sat up and screamed at his mommy, shaking her whole body and refused to let me dry off his ears and head with a towel. I mean picture it, this wet head and shoulders and me on my knees next to him and he kept bobbing and dodging and protesting and he wasn't even fully born yet, the umbilical cord was still attached and his hips and hind legs were still in the birth canal. I actually remember saying to him that he was sure a handful and could he at least wait until he got out of his mom to give her his opinion? I gently pulled him out and never did get to fully dry his head off the way I wanted to and struggled with haltering him for two years!!!!!
                          He is by far the most difficult horse I have ever owned and I am a thoroughbred breeder, so I know hyper, quick, and naughty, well.
                          My quietest horse was like a half asleep labrador retriever and when she gave birth she lay on her side, pushed and out her baby popped. She must have been a Scientologist because I have never had a horse have a "silent" birth but not a groan out of her. She never did anything wrong ever, taught her to lead in one lesson when she was a baby and she never, ever bucked or kicked or nipped, ever.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My 4yr old (Anglo Arab) has been an opinionated little **** from the day he was born. He never even spoke to his mum on arrival! He will do anything if it is what he wants to do, will not co-operate at all if pain is involved - eg mane pulling, having an injection. Took 20 mins to get the first sedative in to geld him, he ran away and fell in the fence first. Lay for ages on the ground, but when he got up walked off straight away.

                            My 2 yr old (Holsteiner/Clyde) is so laid back he is a clown. Very in your face, friendly, always comes when called. He was recently gelded and lay on the ground for ever, rolled onto his brisket and then carried on snoozing. Totally forgiving of all nasty things he had a lot of antibiotics after being gelded - everything swelled up to mega proportions - but was really good. He will tolerate anything if food is involved.

                            My weanling (Andalusian/TB) is a dainty wee lady, very independent but also easy to work with. Very smart, gets her head collar off on a regular basis and then goes ferel on me! She is very inquisitive and comes when called yelling back to me.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ok, just wondering, not intended to start a free for all -- but in discussing Voltaire, there seems to be a fair number that have work ethic issues --I know the mare is a big part, too. However, this question is for someone "knowledgable" about the bloodlines -- does this come from Furioso? The reason I ask is because the only Furioso son I ever knew was very difficult, so I know that is not a reliable "base", but it did make me wonder after reading this thread and another one about Voltaire. That said, I admire Voltaire very much for his looks and talent and what he has brought to the competition world and gene pool.
                              TIA
                              PennyG

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Another vote for "day 1". We can tell right away which ones are going to be super easy and which ones will take more effort. Trainability and work ethic should also be ascertainable from very early on.
                                Signature Sporthorses
                                www.signaturesporthorses.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  When they hit the ground.

                                  It's funny when our horse was born I swear he recognized us. From hearing our voices when he was in utero.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Wow, this is really interesting to read! A bit scary too, I really hope his temperament doesn't change under saddle.
                                    This boy has been "put to work" in a way. I had a Pirelli instructor out a week ago, and she was very impressed by what he knew. She taught him to put his nose on something in about 30 seconds. He did show a behavior I will attempt to describe without applying a label.
                                    She tried to teach him to back up with a hand signal. She started with a "grade 1" aid, which was pointing her finger at his forehead and leaning into him. Then, she went on to grade 2, up until the highest grade, where you wave your hands at them and get in their face. He basically was totally non reactive, and only backed up when we got to the highest grade. He still didn't run, but just stepped back slowly. It didn't help too much that his mom was in view and we were asking him to back away from her. Anyway, she worked on that for about 5 minutes, with only a slightly better response at the end. He never got rattled, however, which I liked. I am not sure whether to label that stubborn, because to me, he just didn't get it, but he doesn't seem "slow" either. On things like giving the head, moving away from pressure, etc, he did very well.
                                    He is the barn favorite, but he is the only warmblood amonst a barn of racehorse babies, so he should be a bit easier to handle then them by blood. Mom was a registered racing TB, but had a GREAT temperament. This guy is an embryo transfer, so the mare he is with is not related to him. From what I see, his temperament had to be genetic, as his recipient mare mom is not nearly as calm and collected as he is. I had no choice in the dam, it was all timing.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Hampton Bay View Post
                                      My new vet said something interesting last week. He told me that the best predictor of personality in horses that he has seen is to put them out for gelding, and then watch how they wake up. The ones who spring up and look around like something is going to eat them will be nervous and high-strung under saddle. The ones who take their time and let you help them get their legs into position will be the quiet, easy-going ones under saddle. He said he has never seen it fail.

                                      I hope he is right, because when we gelded my boy we had to drag him back up so the vet could leave. He was more than content to just stay laying on the ground.

                                      I personally think that, as with any animal, they are what they are when they are born. You can teach them skills to help cope with the demands we put on them, but their basic nature will always be the same. When they are frightened or stressed, they will always revert back to that same basic nature.
                                      I hope your vet is right too! I have never seen a beastie who was more calm and sensible coming out of it than my guy was waking up from gelding. He stayed down and quiet until he was ready, got sternal and rested for a while, then collected himself and just stood up. And that was it. There was no drama, no staggering around. Of course, he's been a pretty mellow fellow since he was born. The breeder says he's "an old soul". I believe they are who they are from day one too
                                      Y'all ain't right!

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