When you walk into a new barn, you’ll immediately get a sense for the various equine personalities in residence. Sometimes there are obvious clues like a cribbing collar or a destroyed Jolly Ball—that horse must be a busy-body. Other times the horse’s actions quickly reveal his character. One horse nickers and rushes to the stall door when you walk by, while his neighbor immediately pins his ears and kicks at the stall wall. You’ve just identified the social director and the resident grump.
The Prissy Princess
The Prissy Princess hates wind because it blows dust around the barn, around the stall and everywhere in the entire universe. Basically, she has a strong opinion, often accompanied by a complaint, about everything.
“Come on! I can’t step on that black mat in the wash rack. It looks dark and ominous. And no way am I walking through that mud pit you’re standing in. I have no intention of dirtying myself just because you don’t want to let me stand here and look beautiful.”
(Note: The Prissy Princess isn’t always a mare; plenty of geldings land in this category.)
You know The Spook all too well. He has the sweetest eyes, and he is terrified of leaves blowing in the wind, sounds coming from the road, and even his neighbor down the aisle.
“Listen, I know you’re tacking me up to work, but I have a really bad feeling about this. Did you just see that? Something moved in the distance. Stop telling me it’s going to be OK—it very well might not be OK. I just heard a scary sound! And a leaf just flew by! We should go back in the stall and hide. It’s safest in there.”
The Sweetheart is slow and steady. You can put the tiniest beginner on him and he won’t turn a hair. His heart of gold makes him worth his weight in gold.
“We just got lapped by The Jock of the barn, but I don’t care. This sweet kiddo on my back is having the time of her life. She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of corners or cross-rails, but I’ll help her out. And why is everyone acting scared of the cars driving past the arena? They’re there every single day. It’s all good.”
The Accident-Prone Horse seems to always be off work because of some pasture bang-up, stall accident, a slight sniffle, or a combination of ailments.
“Thank you for the treats. I just can’t work today! My left hind hock really hurts, and don’t even get me started on the cut on my face. We were playing in the pasture and then there was this tree! I couldn’t get out of the way in time. I really don’t do this on purpose, but I would very much appreciate a massage and some molasses cookies today.”
The Jock is the barn’s big, strong warmblood or Quarter Horse that has rippling muscles and excels in his sport.
“What’s that? We have a job to do? Let’s get going because I’m ready to show up all the other horses in the lesson. See that lanky horse in the corner? Let’s lap him before we do our next exercise. We need to show him how it’s done!”
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!