So what is the MBTI system? You can explore the basics here, but in essence, it is a psychological assessment that uses preferences to assign a four-letter code that describes one of sixteen possibility personality profiles. Essentially, every person falls into one of these categories:
- Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E)
- Sensing (S) or INtuitive (N) (in terms of information gathering)
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) (in terms of decision making)
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) (in terms of lifestyle structure)
The combinations of each of the four letters, can be ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ESNJ, and so on. (Now this is a very simplistic overview—if you’d like to read a more in-depth explanation, be sure to explore further.)
So after effectively establishing my own personality type, I subsequently typed my family members and friends, with eye-opening results (“Aha! She’s a Thinker, not a Feeler! Now it all makes sense!”). After friends and family, I turned to my horses. Could they be typed using MBTI? At first, I thought perhaps not. The basic innate equine personality is fairly straightforward—fond of structure and predictability, driven more by feelings than logic—but once I started comparing individual horses, the results proved quite interesting.
When I scored my pony Cadi using MBTI, I came up with ENTP as her personality type. Cadi likes hanging out with the other ponies and is always up for fun, and is definitely more extroverted than some of the others. She’s not leery of trying new things—in fact, she thinks it’s kind of exciting—and she isn’t flustered by changes in routine. In fact, she’s more of a spontaneous—”Let’s do this today!” type.
But in the barn we also have Ribbons, who I’ve calculated as a clear ISFJ. Ribbons likes to hang out with her close friends and gets upset when she meets a new horse. She thrives on repetition, familiarity, predictability, and routine, and follows her feelings every time. Determining her personality type using the system was amusing to me because I’ve always thought I understood her better than most; after all, I like familiarity, predictability, and routine, too (although I never get upset when meeting a new horse — ha!). In fact, I was told years ago that “Of course you like Ribbons—she’s just like you!” But who knew that someday we could use psychological assessment to prove that we have the same personality type?
So, have you tried using MBTI to determine your horse’s personality type? What did you find out?
Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow her on Twitter: @miraclewelsh.