The brain is an incredibly fascinating organ. It is made up of two hemispheres connected by a group of fibers called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is how the hemispheres communicate and work together. The left side of the brain controls linear thinking, logic, reasoning, number skills and analyzing information. The right side controls spacial relationships, imagination, emotion and intuition. Because of these distinctions, it is often said that people that are good at math, timely and logical are “left brained” people. If you are a “free-spirit”, artsy, and intuitive you are a “right brained” person.
There is also another way to group personalities; Introvert and Extrovert. Introverted people process before speaking, are energized by solitude, and are good listeners. Extroverts will process thoughts out loud, are energized by others and are outgoing and friendly.
Because of the fast pace of that corpus callosum, everyone has some degree of all of those traits. However, you are likely a little more to one side or the other. There are so many good reasons to learn what your dominant personality type is. Being self aware can help you understand how you make others around you feel and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Another reason is: it can help you train your horse! That’s right, how you come across to others is most likely what your horse sees as well. If you're timid and shy for instance, you might find that your horse needs you to be more bold and clear with commands. If you are a free spirited emotional type, your horse may need more consistency.
And don’t stop there! Linda Parelli, Pat Parelli’s wife and partner at Parelli Natural Horsemanship, developed a system for decoding your horse's’ personality: “Horsenality”, if you will. You can figure out whether your horse is “right-brained” (unconfident), “left-brained” (dominant), introverted (more Whoa) or extroverted (more Go). Understanding what motivates your horse can drastically help with your communication and ultimately their (and your) training.
I recently had a gelding pony that we sold after a 3 year struggle with him. It desperately took a toll on my confidence with horses. I thought I had good horsemanship skills and I had trained an un-broke 2 year old before. And yet, my new pony and I could just not get anything accomplished. Riding turned stressful and scary. It wasn’t until I got some really good advice about personality clashes that I realized what motivated him was not what motivated my old horse. Just like in human relationships, people are not all alike; we are all motivated differently.
So, for an example, I took a few tests on myself and came to the conclusion that I am a left-brained Introvert. This should come as no surprise to those who know me. I am a deep-thinker, I NEED alone time, and I can’t stand being late to things. I also took the “horsenality” test on Patches, one of my favorite BF horses. Patches, is a right-brained, introvert. He is submissive and calm but also nervous and uncertain. He and I could have a troublesome relationship if I was not aware of our personality clash. On the surface, you would think we are similar, so we should get along just fine! However Patches needs someone who is very confident in themselves in order to gain his own confidence. If I, as his partner, am shy and nervous, that will only add to his uncertainty. If my approach is confident, clear and concise, he will love working with me. My confidence will boost his; he will know there is nothing to fear.
Whether working on a human relationship or a horse relationship, knowing your personality is a huge advantage. Often we see a personality clash and that causes us to feel inadequate or like someone needs to change, much like my pony and I. That is absolutely not true. The beauty of this world is that all these different personality types can work in harmony with each other. The result being that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The Gottman Institute has said “Compatibility is overrated. What’s required is unity. Unity doesn’t mean that you’re the same, it means you're together.” I couldn’t agree more.
What is your personality? What is your horses' horsenality? Let me know in the comments!