Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nailing Jello to the Wall

I read about Dessa Hockley's Book, "Is Your Horse A Rock Star? Understanding Your Horse's Personality" on Chelsi's blog. I did the online test and it nailed the enigmatic, schizophrenic Poco so precisely that I immediately bought the book. We've had fun typing all the horses at Iron Ridge.

There is more detailed info in the book, but here's the basics:

The Wild Card — Dominant, Energetic, Afraid, Friendly
Strong minded but insecure, this personality needs an equally strong rider to help them feel safe. Be loving and affectionate, but don’t give up your leadership. Once you have them on your page, they are very friendly and have a strong desire to please. They can be highly competitive and will give you their all. Not a horse for a junior or amateur until much later in life. Note added by me: Interestingly, she says that sometimes novices do well with WCs because they "come to an agreement" with them, allowing them to make certain decisions a more experienced rider might not. WCs have big egos and appreciate this freedom.


Protect them
Repeat lessons often
Be their boss
Honor their energy
Keep a steady training program


Overload them
Skip steps in training
Show weakness or fear
Have huge expectations
Jump into new territory


Steady Eddy — Submissive, Lazy, Confident, Friendly

If you are a novice or amateur, this is the horse for you. They are quiet and predictable, loving and engaging, willing to learn new things, willing to hang out with you and do nothing. This is not your big ego, career-oriented horse. They are happy to just be. Consistent and loyal, all you need to do is enjoy!


Whatever you want
Appreciate them
Play with them
Keep variety in their work
Keep workouts short


Have huge expectations
Overtax them
Ignore them
Bore them


And just for fun, because, after all, he is only 4 months old:

The Goddess — Submissive, Energetic, Confident, Friendly
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.


Listen to them
Play with them
Ask for what you want
Allow them friendships
Be their friend and leader
Give them variety
Own them forever


Be rigid, bossy, boring
Move them frequently
Keep them alone
Stress them

Here's the Amazon link to the book.

I was so impressed with the description of Poco, that I emailed Dessa Hockley. I was delighted to get the following email back from her:

"Thanks so much for your kind words.

I seem to get most of my emails from people with Wild Cards and they seem to be most popular at our barn as well. They are our new learning so not sure if we have them entirely figured out yet. As with all learning it is never a static thing especially with horses. What I wrote in the book seemed to be what worked at the time but I am seeing now people coming to us with a DEAF and the rider is trying to be something they are not and this is what is creating a problem.

What Wild Cards seem to demand from us is that we show up and be authentic. The strong boundaries stuff that I mention in the book is all good if that is who you are but they can sniff out a phony leader from across the pasture and then they will pull every string you have attached. They demand that we show up 'real'. Now what that looks like if you are soft and a submissive type yourself is far different. From what we are seeing here, in that situation you then forget training on them and just be that friend. I have a couple of very soft women who have their Wild Cards here and they understand that they cannot be the boss. I know it goes against all training manuals that have ever been written but for them the relationship is all that matters and they only ride when the horse is ready and wants to. The horses in this situation seem to take on the role of teacher and they really like it. I have a whole story on one of these that I want to get on my blog if I ever get the thing up and going. I'll let you know when that happens. Thanks for the reminder.

So I guess where I am going is to stay 'who are you' and as long as you can be clear within that they are fine. Stay within what keeps you and them safe. We use the same personality assessment for ourselves and it is unbelievably accurate, although the names are a bit odd for people. I can give you some tips on that if you are interested....again a good thing for the damn blog if and when.

Steady Eddy's are exactly what you need to calm your nerves after dealing with the Wild Card. Good choice. Goddess would give you some energy without all the anxiety so also an easier one."

How cool is that?! I can't wait til she gets her blog going. Dessa, if you are reading this, the blogosphere awaits!


BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I thought that was a fun test too. That quiz sure pegged Moon and Frosty. I'm still figuring out some of my other horse's personalities myself.

Pinzgauer said...

Interestingly, out of the horses I did the online quiz for (about 20), and then (after Leah kindly loaned me the book) looked them up, I was shocked at how consistently accurate her assessment of the horses is.

Needless to say, this book is on my wish list now too.

How cool is it that she wrote back!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hah! Do you know that Baby Doll was a DEAF Wild Card, too?
Apparently I am not a good match for a Wild Card Personality. Too bad I had to learn the hard way *before* I knew her personality traits.

That's neat that she e-mailed you back.

Ironically Apache is a Wall Flower and Bella is a Steady Eddie.

Pretty accurate I would say.


Unknown said...

I'm doing a post on Cibolo. I've got to pick up this book. I swear I'd make every horse take this quiz.

Anonymous said...

I think the book is pretty good - there are some good insights as well on how to work effectively with the different personalities. It also makes the point that certain horses can be more extreme or more moderate in one dimension, or have elements on both ends - my Dawn is a Wild Card, too, but she switches, sometimes rapidly, between Curious/Afraid, which makes for its own challenges.

I thought it was really nice that she took the time to email you back.

Leah Fry said...

I hope she gets her blog started. That would be fun if she hung out in our neck of the blogosphere.

Lisa, that makes a lot of sense about Baby Doll. If I know anything about you from your writing, it's that you are a gentle soul, ill-suited to the schizoid moods of a Wild Card. I am by nature an assertive, kind of scrappy person. Learning to deal with a horse like Poco makes sense for me. I am amused by the head games we play. I like getting in his head, finding out what makes him tick, and pushing his buttons the same way he does mine.

The guy I was married to prior to Mr. Fry was just like Poco — a BAD BOY. I wisely got rid of him, but I'll keep the horse ;-)

It's taken 4 years to reach an agreement with Poco — and that's exactly what it is. There are still days where I want to ride, take one look at him and go, "There's no way I'm getting on that silly beast today." It's always a challenge, and some days he just wears me out. It would be sad if he were my only horse, but Jaz is the great equalizer for both me and Poco. And as Dessa noted, he is definitely mellowing with age - my guess is he's 14. It's not worth his while to fight so hard anymore. Life's too good.

jacksonsgrrl said...

LOVE! the blog title! I can't wait to try out that quiz. If it's on target, I suppose I'll be buying the book too! Yeah for Barnes and Noble gift cards! :)
Hot 'nuff for ya?

jacksonsgrrl said...

I took it! sounds pretty on. Jackson is "A Goddess" most of it matches pretty well. He may not like that tho... He would prefer to be "A GOD"! LOL....

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Love the illustrations. Now I know if/when we get a horse to be on the lookout for a Steady Eddy. Thanks for sharing this!

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