Working with Your Horse’s Horsenality

Parelli horsenality
Horsenality Chart
Parelli Horsenality Chart

(PDF Format-Click to Enlarge)

Pat and Linda Parelli have developed a program to help you better understand you horse’s individual behavior and temperament characteristics.

To identify your horse’s horsenality, consider every trait listed on the chart to the right and make a dot on the specific ring that best corresponds to your horse. For example, if your horse is extremely playful, you would put a dot on the outer “extreme” ring under this trait. If he is non-responsive, but only some of the time, you would put a dot on the middle “moderate” ring by this trait. Some of the traits may not apply to your horse at all. You can have dots in different quadrants, but the vast majority of horses will end up with most of their dots in one quadrant, which reveals that horse’s horsenality.

Once you have identified your horse’s horsenality profile using the chart, here are some strategies for working effectively with each horsenality type for a more successful partnership.

The Right Brain Extrovert needs safety. Never push him past the threshold until he’s calm. You will need to retreat and to interrupt the pattern. You must have a strong focus and must match the horse’s high energy level. Give him a job to accomplish to replace his fear with something positive. He must think of you as his “safe place.”

The Right Brain Introvert needs comfort. The worst thing you can do is push this horse before he’s confident. You’ll ruin his trust in you if you push him before he’s ready. Taking your time is important because you’ll need to wait on this horse to process things. He needs to believe in you.

The Left Brain Extrovert needs play. He craves creative, imaginative tasks and can’t stand to be forced into anything. Because he hates to be bored, you’ll need to speed things up, be enthusiastic and come up with variety in your lessons.

The Left Brain Introvert needs incentive. There are plenty of ways to offer incentive without “bribing” him. (Think rest, grazing, treats, scratches.) This horse needs to have a purpose and wants to go somewhere. Riding circles in an area with this horse will lead to resistance and defiance. Use reverse psychology for best results.

For more information about Horsenalities, visit

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Cynthia McFarland is an Ocala, Fla.-based freelance writer, horse owner and avid trail rider. The author of nine books, her latest is The Horseman’s Guide to Tack and Equipment.


  1. This is a wonderful chart. It helps me see how my horse is progressing, and if I am doing everything right. It is amazing how much difference 1 month makes.

  2. I filled the chart out for my 8 year old paint gelding, Tomahawk, and he fits into the right-brain introvert category.
    It’s quite interesting because when I adopted him we pretty much figured he had never been ridden before and I used some of Parelli’s techniques and I am now able to ride him.
    It is totally accurate, though, that this horse should not be pushed before he is ready and to back this up I can tell you that there is a trainer at the barn where I board who told me that it was time to show Tomahawk how to “collect” himself. I started doing this with him and on Sunday (only a day or so after we began asking him to flex at the poll) I asked him to lope in this position and he lost his balance quite a bit which caused me to lose my balance which then scared him and he scooted away from me, so I fell off. Anyway – my point here is that I realize that I have to break things down ever so simply for him and spend alot of time on each technique until he fully gets it – otherwise he tends to panic and flee. He’s really quick too so when he scoots off, he’s gone.
    Hopefully I can purchase Parelli’s Level 1 soon so I can continue to work with Tomahawk safely an build a solid foundation.

  3. This is a very interesting artical. I have been looking for a tool like this for the past 2 yrs. I did use the equine IQ test to assist me with my mare,she was a pistol. I was hoping for another tool. Thanks Parelli’s I used the tool for my 14 yo QH mare. It did assist me in determining her horenality, she did meet the LB intorvert hands down. However, when I went to use the tool on my 2 yo QH gelding it did not work as well. As the horenality scale looks at more negative actions and not the positive. He had three trigers for LB extrovert, zero on RB extrovert, zero on RB introvert and two on LB introvert. I feel it would be more beneficial if the scale looked at negative and positive attributes. I first read about this scale in Horse Illistrated. This is a close to a holistic assessment of your horse you can get. I look forward to applying my findings with my mare.

  4. Thank you for publishing the Parelli Article. I am 53 years old and I have worked with horses since the age of 12. When I first started studying Parelli, I actually broke down and cried because this program was the road map that I have always wanted.

  5. I read this months article on Horsenality and I am very intrigued. I would like to learn more so I went to both of the websites referenced but I still could not find out how to get ahold of the other three charts mentioned in the article. Can you help?

  6. I am an avid Parelli student, and this tool is amazing! I knew my mare was LB, but not Introvert. This has changed out relationship for the better is so many different ways! I thought my pony was RBE, but turns out she is LBE! Wow, when I changed how I played with her, we zoomed through L1 and half of L2 in a few short days! It is truely amazing! I couldn’t ask for anything better! Thank you Pat and Linda for all your guidance and info!

  7. I enjoyed the ‘horsenality’ article very much; I have three weanlings that I am working with, all three seem to be “Left Brain” but in three different degrees! Just knowing what to look for wasn’t enough, learning how to deal with each one successfully was priceless! I hope to see more articles on horsenalities and how to deal with each different type in the future, Thank You!

  8. Pat and Linda have again come up with a very useful tool to help us learn more about why our horses do what they do. The Horsenality Chart is helping me understand what to do at the proper times and gives me more arrows to work with.

  9. I respect Pat Parelli as a businessman and horseman. This obviously came from the business side of his mind and not the horse side. It is a catchy concept and, as usual, good marketing; but really dumb in practice.

  10. It’s an alright chart. It tends to look at the negative not the positive aspects of a horses personality which can make it hard for some horses.

  11. I think that the Horsenality conception is really fantastic! It has really healped me and my horse!
    Carol and LB introverted Teddy P.S.I LOVED the Harrisburg tour!

  12. Hey! I have been studying Parelli for quite a while now, and my horse Ruby and I are doing very good, when I got her She was kinda high-strung, and she still is to this day that will never change, but she has better learned to communicate with me. I went to one of Pat Parellis shows and he showed the croud horse behavior and what the horse may mean when he does such and such a thing. It seems as though Ruby trustes me alot and she kind of tells me how she feels. Now when she sees me she nickers and meets me at the gate:) Pat and Linda use horse methods that dont contain of force, if a horse simply doesnt want to do something they take his/her mind off of it and then try again later when they are more calm, trusting and willing. Ruby and I have a very strong bond thanks to Pat and Linda Parelli. You and your horse dont even have to be having problems to do parelli, it is a way to get your horse thinking, to play games and have fun too! I encourage everyone to try Parelli and see how they like it!

  13. I have been taking an interest in Parelli lately, although I don’t have a horse of my own. If I ever do get one, I would certainly love to try some of the methods on him/her.
    I just wish that HI mag would put their Parelli training articles back in the magazine. I’m not sure about other subscribers, but I want to learn about HORSES and their training in HI, not gossip about the horse world and interviews w/ horsey celebs. I mean, some of that is okay, but it seems like HI is more about gossip these days than about actual HORSES.

  14. Horsenality is interesting- but I have a question, The Parelli Levels, are they OnLine, At Liberty, Freestyle, and Finesse? Because it seems that those four levels also have four levels inside of them? Thanks……….

  15. Wow, I found a category that matches my horse the closest. A left brain introvert. After watching videos about that type, I have found it really is my horse, and am learning the better ways to work with him. I was doing many things wrong.

  16. i have 2 horses. a 3 year old percheron (completely LB extrovert and find this to my benefit as this tends to be my personality (although i do flit into RB at times)). The there is chester my 12 year old cob whom i have owned for the last 5 months. He is a drive and ride and extremley clever, outwits us everytime. He is a LB Introvert for sure. I find this very hard to deal with as i’ve not manage to find his incentive yet. Although he loves going out, to re load to come back we have recently found out takes such a long time to the delight of onlookers. Back to patterns will try reversing the psychology and see what happens.

  17. My mare is definitly a right brain extrovert. Ive been reading up on it and realizing that i’m doing lots wrong, but some right. Thank you horsenality for helping me!

  18. ok i am really confused lol, i have only been a horse owner for about 3 1/2 years and she is a little of everything. She is a 24 yr old Paint that was used for lessons, barrelracing and jumping. she gets upset when not with her stall mate sometimes and other time she fine, sometimes she is stubburn to put a saddle on unless there is another horse with her, she refused to stand still most of the time,once on her she is good , spokes ate many different things, When my 9 yr old daughter is on her she is awsome, responds to ground control 90% of the time,then she can be a delight and very loveable so any help would be great. i know its alot but im willing to learn so she is happy

  19. i am an avid parelli fan who has 8 welsh cobs all section d’s. they are all very different but some i have found to be on the (cusp) which is the piont between 2 horsenality. i have found the profile to be one of the most helpful tools i have and use it regular. it gets you saying to yourself “yes yes thats all of what my horse does” i am sure this is quite a breakthrough in natural horsemanship!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. I find this horsenality stuff SO interesting, but really it’s just entertainment. It does not lead to better horsemanship.

  21. Sorry but it’s about as relevant to horses as the astrologers in a daily newspaper. I suppose some people could find it a bit of fun but it’s just another marketing scheme for the Parellis.

  22. This stuff really is relevant. My two horses are polar opposites and I have to understand their personality differences in order to work with them. What works for one doesn’t work for the other and vice versa. I get more out of my horses with fewer problems by catering to their differences. I mean, haven’t you ever noticed that paint horses are just wired funny?

  23. I think this is really cool!
    For Julie in UK, NU — if you don’t like the Parelli’s, that’s fine (you’re missing out!!), but I think everyone would appriciate it if you did not talk badly about them or post anything that makes them seem stupid… their stuff works, even if you don’t think so?
    –Does anyone else agree with me?

  24. Where’s the science behind this “horsenality” stuff? You can’t just slap a label on a horse and expect it to conform to some bogus standard! They don’t account for circumstance, environment, skill set ( or mood)of the trainer/handler, among a host of other factors that would effect the horse. I’ve seen Parelli students question why their horses don’t quite fit into a particular personality and the Parelli camp tries to cover that glaring problem by saying “well horses can flip from one to another”. So basically you cannot label a horse with any certainty that he will remain in that personality for any predetermined amount of time. What BUNK! They sure are fooling a large number of people. Oddly enough, they do have some sound training methods but let the BUYER beware!! They are a SAVY @ taking your cash. 😉

  25. When it’s not acceptable to voice an opinion it should be stated, I for one appreciate hearing everyone’s opinions. I have seen a lot of the Parelli techniques work but I think it is hard to slip a horse into one group. I want to be given all opinions and information so I can form my own opinion. 😉

  26. For those of you who are saying you can’t just label a horse into one of these groups and have it fit all the time…you’re right. I’ve been using the Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship for 4 years and can tell you that it’s purpose is not to “label” a horse, but to allow you to understand how your horse thinks so you know the right way to train them. It’s like humans going to the doctor. They asses our symptoms and then slap a label on what’s wrong with us even if not all the symptoms are there. It’s the same thing with Horsenality. Now if you think this is bunk and don’t want to give it a chance, then go ahead, that’s your opinion. But I have seen first hand that this works. While I’m willing to look into other horsemanship options, I will continue to refer to the Parellis when I don’t know which is the best option for my horse.

  27. The chart is to be used as a tool to help give you ideas when dealing with horses based on their “horsenality” and their needs as individuals. It’s no different than considering a person’s “personality”. This does not, by any means, label a horse. As you begin to play with your horses through the seven games, etc., they will begin to change…..I have a current right brain introvert that needs to establish trust with me. I have to move very slowly and not push him before he is ready in order not to destroy my progress. Having the chart is fabulous & truly helps individualize the needs of each horse. We have 9 horses total and each one of them has different needs as far as approach and handling. This chart was probably developed through a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, and tears…trial and error. I don’t work for Parelli and have no reason to stand behind this other than from concrete proof that it works. Some of the “old” ways involved treating each horse the same in training methods, etc. You can’t lump a horse into one category simply because he’s a horse. Having an open mind and trying things for yourself go an awful long way. I also have a left brain extrovert – high play drive, likes to bite, can be obnoxious, pushy….knowing that he needs to be kept busy & given different tasks in rapid succession has made the world of difference. It keeps me and my horse out of trouble. But, as we progress,he will begin to transform and will learn how to challenge that energy. These horses are often seem as a lost cause – dangerous, etc. Understanding them DOES help. No denying that. Can you get results in ways besides Parelli? You sure can, but parelli is all about building the relationship through love, language, and leadership and taking the time that it takes to do it right. If you love your horses, give this a shot. I love to be understood and know that it’s also important to my horses. They’re truly worth the effort!!

  28. Well, having looked at the chart I have one horse who’s definitely LB and one who’s RB but both are divided in the middle when it comes to introvert and extrovert.
    However, I can say for sure that my LB horse loves going on adventures to new places, differences in routine, and seeing new things and my RB horse hates new things and loves the security of the same thing over and over again.
    So, I guess it does pretty much match what I do with my training.
    However, what is wrong with bribes? Both my horses do really well with reward based training.

  29. WOW!
    I have serious problems with my horse right now. I need answers I need the right team to help me because I think I am ruining her because I wasn’t trained to properly cope with her horsenality. I have so many “trainers” made me push my horse till one day she snapped.
    I have spent 4 years in vet bills refusing to take her for training because something bigger was wrong.
    She no longer wanted to be in a horse trailer nor did she want to ride in a arena let alone compete.
    I wasn’t getting the bond I once knew with her and its like she has completely given up on me. She is by far the hardest horse I have yet worked with.
    Her and I were 1. I could run a pattern with a rope around her neck. She would be exacly where she needed to be AT ALL TMES. Loved to work loved to please. I could take her to a local pleasure show and place this mare. We done miles together.
    Now I have a horse that even refuses to look at me. When I came across this chart it helped me justify my reality in words and gave me a new beginning. A new outlook on things and where I could start. Its given me hope.
    Ive sat days in the field with this mare, after her meltdown. This horse use to trot to me and call at me when she seen me. I sat there for days and never came once. Its now a whistle at feed time, even then hesitant.
    Her profile reads extreme for the right brain extrovert for every single one of them. The left side shes smart and bites other, argumentive and stubborn. She has better days the others.
    Working her up isn’t the answer she will tie up, I fear the day of a hart attack for her. So I refuse to fight now I tried multiple things some days are good days. The majority are better in the field its the only time shes not in combat with herself.I know now its not ulcers and I don’t no enough to help her.


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