Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Horse Training: Does Your Horse's Tail Tell Tales?

Here is an interesting experiment you can try on your horse: hold the base of your horse's tail in one hand and use your other hand to shape the tail into a question mark.

Now try rotating your horse's tale in a circle in either direction.

Was your horse's tail flexible or stiff as a board? The results of this tail test tell a tale!

What Tales Does Your Horse's Tail Tell?
I originally learned this bodywork technique when I was studying with a TTouch practitioner, so I believe it comes from the material created by Linda Tellington-Jones. According to this practitioner, the flexibility of a horse's tail tells you how flexible his personality is ... or how open he is to change.

Back then, I only had one horse and didn't think much of this test. I was more interested in showing and winning, so my horse basically had to do what I asked, flexible tail or not.

These days, I have a herd of five horses, each with a very distinctive horse personality. I suddenly remembered this little test, and tried it on each horse. Guess what? The results were very "telling," and matched each horse's personality to a tee.

The Results of the Tail Test
So the results are both surprising and predictable. Here's a list of my horses as well as each horse's personality type (based on the Horse Harmony personality typing system developed by Dr. Madalyn Ward).

Valentine: Wood (one who wants to win, also playful)
Samantha: Fire/Wood or Shao Yang (an ultimate competitor with speed)
Reyacita: Metal (needs to know her job, loves routine)
Walker: Fire/Water or Shao Yin (very smart, not very tough)
Fezzywig: Not sure

So the results of the tail test were:

Valentine: Fairly flexible
Samantha: Stiff as a board
Reyacita: Stiff as a board
Walker: Stiff as a board
Fezzywig: Flexible as a rubber hose

These results were very interesting to me. I could not have predicted some of these results. Here's why.

I would have predicted that her personality, being fairly competitive and sometimes aggressive, would fairly stiff because she doesn't always agree with my training program. However, the playful side of the Wood personality means she is open to anything that might be fun or interesting (or get her in trouble, which she doesn't mind in the least). So that side of her makes her tail fairly flexible.

The fact that her tail was stiff was no big surprise. Samantha has always been a "my way or the highway" kind of gal, willing to cooperate only to win. The Fire aspect of her personality makes her unbending, as Fire-type horses can be very rigid in their mental processes as well as their bodies.

Metal horses love routine and have to "know" their job description to feel comfortable. Messing around with the tail was not part of Reyacita's job description, so her tail was stiff. Also, anything "out of the ordinary" makes a Metal horse resist, so her stiff tail was also no surprise.

His tail was a big surprise. Normally Shoa Yin horses are all about "getting along." In fact, many Shao Yin horses will be so intent on pleasing their owner that they will literally go until they drop, all in the name of being pleasing. However, being that Walker has Fire in his temperament, he is also rigid in certain respects (as he has recently shown me). I had mistaken his easygoing temperament for that of a marshmallow, but his tail stiffness and recent clear demands to me tells me he's not a total softie. In fact, I'm discovering that many a Shao Yin horse will demand his way or literally die trying. They can be surprisingly rigid.

I haven't yet figured out Fezzy's horse personality type, but his tail is as flexible as a rubber hose, so I'm guessing he has no Fire in him. He seems quite easygoing, fun-loving, and fearless. He also has a sweet tooth so I'm guessing he's either Earth or one of the Earth combination types. More will be revealed ...

Wintertime Tail Tales
I hope you enjoyed this little article, and maybe it will inspire you to go out and find out what tales your horse's tail tells you. After all, it's wintertime (at least here in Colorado) and there's not much riding to be done, so this might help keep cabin fever at bay ... at least for a day or two!

Enjoy ... oh, and please share your results if you get any. I'd love to know. If you want to personality type your horse (or yourself) or learn more about horse personality types, click the links below:

Horse Harmony Test

Horse Harmony Resources

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