Horse characters & Behavior: # 3 Introverted Horses

This will be the third and last article in the ‘Horse characters & Behavior’ series. In the preceding articles we talked about the use of the Instinctive & Rational sides of the brain, and in part 2 we spoke about the extroverted horse. We would like to advise you to read these articles before starting part 3.
In this article we will mostly focus on learning to understand the Introverted horse and finding out how we can actually recognize an introvert.

First ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my horse’s body language usually hard to read? Does it seem like he almost doesn’t communicate?
  • Is it typically hard to get my horse to move (forward)? Does he tend to be slow, does he get stuck of freezes to the ground?
  • Does my horse have a tendency to get stuck in himself when he gets stressed (does he seem to collect the stress into himself, which makes it look like he is perfectly alright) and then later he might even explode (just like that!?)?

If the answer to at least 2 of these questions is Yes, then you might be dealing with a horse that is an introvert by nature.

As discussed in the preceding article the reason why it’s so important for us to know if we’re dealing with an introvert or extrovert is that we can more easily make a connection with our horse if we are able to match his energy and he will be more willing to work with us. By matching his energy we show him we understand.

Now imagine the following: You’ve had a long day and have been really looking forward to putting your feet up and sit down with a nice book. You’re lounging on the sofa, a cup of tea in hand, sigh a big sigh and start reading. Then your friend comes into the room. She turns on all the lights turns on the TV and ‘cozily’ sits down next to you. She keeps on flipping the channels, the couch you’re both sitting on keeps on moving and now she even begins to chat to you energetically.

Do you appreciate this? Or would you rather have been left alone for a little while. Would you have appreciated her more if she’d quietly picked up a book herself and would’ve sat down next to you to read? Waardeer je dit? (if this is not applicable to you….. you are probably not an introvert yourself 😉 but just try to emphasize).

Our horses definitely function this way. When we’re dealing with an introvert it’s important that we use just as much, or sometimes even less, energy than they do. Like a lot of our students have heard multiple times: ‘Show him you are even lazier than he is!’.
Introverted horses need time. The more we try to hurry them up, the slower they will get or the more tension they will build.

Some introverts would rather not walk a lot just because they don’t understand the point in it. They would rather not walk around and around in the arena and would much rather go outside on a hike. After all, a circle doesn’t really get you anywhere in the end!

Other introverted horses are tough to move because they are tense. They are literally ‘stuck’. And the harder we try to push them to move, the more stuck they will get. If we just allow them some time they will start to move on themselves in the end.

I dare you to experiment with the connection to your horse this week and see how you can influence it by matching him. Does he need to move his feet? Help him do it! Or does he need to go a bit slower? Then show him that you understand, and he is allowed to take some time…. You’ll be surprised how much he will start to offer you in the future if you take the time to do it right.