What Makes My Horse Tick?

I Cat Nihem

Do you ever wonder, "What is my horse's temperament?" "Why does my horse react that way?" "How does my personality match my horse's?" or "What discipline is my horse best suited for?"

Using typology or "Equusology," you can answer those questions and gain an understanding of your horse's inherent characteristics, as well as how your personality relates to your horse's.


The testing is designed to provide you guidance on THE BEST WAYS to ride and train your horse based on his basic temperament.


Equusology is a process developed by Melisa Pearce and Carolyn Fitzpatrick in their book Equusology: Deciphering Human and Horse Typology. The book consists of a personality questionnaire for humans, a personality questionnaire for horses, and explanations to help you understand your horse and communicate with him better.


The authors beautifully describe it as "the art of the human equine relationship."


The human temperament test is an abbreviated version of the Myers-Briggs, so after answering a series of 70 questions, you are grouped into 1 out of 16 personality categories:

  • E or I (Extrovert or Introvert): How we orient to the social world and our style of distilling thought.

  • S or N (Sensing or Intuition): How we learn and absorb information.

  • T or F (Thinking or Feeling): How we govern our choices and decisions.

  • J or P (Judging or Perceiving): How we organize our time use and view our environment.

These four categories are combined to create 16 different personality types: ESTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ESTJ, ISFJ, ISFP, ESFP, ESFJ, INFJ, INFP, ENFP, ENFJ, INTJ, INTP, ENTP, ENTJ. Once you have determined who you are and what makes you tick, it is time to find out about your horse.


The horse temperament test applies these same categories to horses. The results teach you a lot about what makes your horse happy and how to play to his strengths.


As Melisa explains, "How can I get my horse to do something easier, faster, better, and with less argument? We leave ourselves out of the equation. We have to listen to the horse as well."


A friend of ours has an opinionated chestnut mare, and she scheduled an Equusology session with Donna Carlson Coaching to learn how to decipher her horse's temperament. She found out some fascinating personality traits of her horse that has shifted her whole perspective on how to work better TOGETHER:


[You refers to the person, and She refers to the horse]

  • She is best suited for a discipline where she can think.

  • She likes structure, policies, and procedures.

  • She learns by taking in her surroundings globally. She may miss minor details because she scans the situation or glances at many things.

  • She could find adventure in not having a set routine all of the time - mix it up. Boredom can appear as disobedience.

  • You prefer stability – she may need variety.

  • You are warmer and kind-hearted – she is more black and white.

  • You may need to be more physical for connection – she may not (I mean heart connection, not riding connection). You can do little things with her like giving extra carrots in her feed bin while standing next to her and talking with her.

  • She is an observer. She is watching for consistency or inconsistency with your cues because she is thinking. She will react by seemingly being set back if she finds an incorrect pattern.

  • She may protest with a head shake or tail wring to express annoyance.

Taking the time to reflect on WHO YOU ARE and WHO YOUR HORSE IS helps you CONNECT ON A DEEPER LEVEL.


Humans and horses have a unique relationship. We are two very different species, each trying to communicate, and we have different ways of reacting to what happens around us.

When you learn to decipher your horse's messages, it can bring a whole new level of trust and cooperation to your relationship.
At The Equestrian Journal, we believe there are many tools to elevate your riding, and Equusology may be one you want to explore!

Happy riding,

The Equestrian Journal Team
To explore Equusology further, we highly recommend Donna Carlson Coaching.

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