Horsenality™ Is Not An Excuse!

by Linda Parelli on May 9, 2012

The reason for this blog is that I keep hearing this comment: “People are using Horsenality™ as an excuse!” We’ve all heard people say “I can’t ask my horse to do this; he’s an introvert” or “She’ll always be crabby and bitchy because she’s a Left-Brain Extrovert!’”

Let’s be clear – knowing your horse’s Horsenality is not about being able to make excuses. It’s about bringing your full attention to this question: are you bringing out the worst or the best in your horse? Knowing about Horsenality means you have the inside scoop as to what it is your horse trusts and respects in a leadership style that would bring out the most positive behaviors. And when you know just how to approach your horse, it will help you make faster progress and get better results.

Let’s talk about introverts:

Introverts take time to process your request, either because they can’t do it or they don’t want to do it right away. Guess which is which!

Right-Brain Introvert – can’t do it. That’s because their emotions get in the way so their first reaction is stress, and stress makes them clam up and shut down until they trust you and can feel completely confident around you. Putting it in human terms, this is the Right-Brain Introvert mother who is both caring and effective with her children. She can think on her feet and do the right thing in the moment. But in another setting, she is tentative and easily intimidated. The more extroverted the situation, the more introverted the Right-Brain Introvert becomes. These horses are often called unpredictable, aloof, tense, and oversensitive.

Left-Brain Introvert – won’t do it. That’s because their opinion of you gets in the way – they think you are lower than them in the pecking order! These horses are often called stubborn, lazy, and arrogant.

When a horse is acting tense, over-reactive, stubborn, lazy, etc., that’s because the rider is bringing out those behaviors. Rushing an introvert will do this – not giving them time to think, and in the case of the Left-Brain Introvert, not being provocative enough at the same time. Note that “provocative” does not necessarily mean to do it faster!

Now, about extroverts:

Extroverts don’t take time to process things, so the slower you are, the worse it is for them (well, and for you too I guess!). Extroverts are either reactionary or domineering. Can you guess which is right-brain and which is left-brain?

Right-Brain Extrovert – reactionary. Right Brain Extroverts tend to react rather than respond. How to tell the difference? Reaction is usually faster than you want, and it’s accompanied by tension and braciness (which means fear). These horses are often called crazy, hard to control, and wired.

Left-Brain Extrovert – domineering. You’ve probably experienced this in the human world, but in the horse world it is often terribly misread. I’ve heard it called naughty, aggressive, untrainable, bitchy, disobedient, and argumentative.

If you are seeing these behaviors in a horse, it’s because, in some way, the rider causing it. Being too slow, too boring, too permissive, too casual or unfocused are often the reasons extroverts will behave negatively around people.

How do you bring out the positive?

Well, I’ve spent thousands of hours writing about exactly this in my electronic Horsenality Match Report (developed in collaboration with Dr. Patrick Handley, who also designed one the most famous relationship matching programs, amongst other amazing personality-based management tools). Being your horse’s “owner”, his partner, his steward, his sponsor, his friend, his mentor, teacher… I think it is vital to know how to make his life with you the best it can be… for BOTH of you. Otherwise, why should you stay together? This relationship can be great… or it can be filled with fear, frustration or feeling like a failure. It’s up to you. As Pat said to me back in 1989, “Don’t blame your horse… you’re the one who bought him!”. Wow. That was my wake-up call. Learning how to figure out what it would take to become the leader this horse would trust and respect was HUGE for me, and that journey continued as I found myself with horses of different Horsenalities. My approach had to change according to each horse’s individual Horsenality. Learning how to make it faster and easier for you has become my life’s passion.

No matter what your goal, you need to learn as much as you can about your horse – how he thinks, how he feels, how he learns, what he likes, what he hates and what’s important to him. It will lead to a more fulfilling partnership – less frustration, more fun, more fulfillment, more love, greater potential and better results.

P.S. I’m not letting my husband read this… he’ll ask me why I’m not doing more of this on him!  Haha!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda and Reggie June 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm

PROBLEM: My LBE often starts out as RBI…he can’t go Forward. At thresholds, I stop until he chews, relaxes, even asks a question but he’s still tense! He wants to cling to me. SOLUTION SO FAR: I find (this is goofy but it seems to help!) that in order to give him a DRAW, which he prefers, I get behind him at a threshold. I draw him on one long-line Back to me and then pivot his shoulder 90*…..wait until he relaxes and then Draw him back to me and pivot 90* until we’ve “looked” all 4 directions. When he CAN go forward, ASAP I put him in Cloverleaf cuz it’s also 4 directions. We stop in the middle facing different directions. Pretty soon he volunteers a Trot and Snakes his head…here comes LBE!! ASIDE: Am careful when cueing shoulders to pivot that I smack the ground with the lash of the carrot stick thinking “Nope, your feet can’t be THERE anymore, that’s MY spot!” vs “you better move or I’ll smack you!” Big difference in my intention and his response. ok, I”ll write again when i hit the NEXT snag!!! -L&R


Sadie Dill March 4, 2013 at 12:43 am

I just have a quick question. I just bought a new horse and I am having some catching game problems.. I just don’t know how to win his trust without spoiling his confidence or making our very new relationship go down the toilet. I can get him to come to me with treats and he will follow me when I first go into the field because I walk the other direction and he gets curious… But then it never excels from that. I just don’t want him to be forced to have the halter on because that is how it was at his old home. They would throw the halter on him when he walked away. Seeing how he acts, I have labeled him left brain introvert. He thinks about everything… Which I love but I don’t want to make our relationship bad already. What is suggested?? HELP!!


Liz Squire January 31, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Your brilliant. You, with this horsenality stuff, have made my life with my horse so much more “right.” He and I are a totally different ballgame now. yippee


DeeDee December 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Ah, LBI horses with LBE girls. With an LBI husband. Sigh. .
Rabbs and Sonny are so ‘together’. When Rabbs rides him bareback, it is like he is part of Sonny. And Rabbs is way too laid back to insist they do much, So Sonny is very happy (VERY HAPPY) to be with him.
After the Horsenality match, Here I am out going (who knew) and having to slow down and make Sonny right when I want to GO!
What I do see is when he is learning and ENGAGED, he grows energy and becomes my American Warmblood, such big round movements.
I don’t want to slow down, and when I do, We are magnificent together.


Caroline August 16, 2012 at 12:07 am

I am a right-brain introvert and my equine pal is a very smart left-brain introvert. We’re not a good combination because he knows he has all the time in the world to intimidate me, argue, be obstinate and in general make me work way harder when I’m riding than I should have to. My trainer, who does natural horsemanship and is a good rider, has trouble with him, too. I’ve taught him to do all kinds of tricks and games on the ground, but in the saddle is another story. Our relationship has consisted of some nice moments strung between lots of frustration on both our parts.

I’m at my wits’ end and, after five years of this, I’ve decided to sell him. My question is, are there some horse-person relationships that just won’t work or am I just doing it wrong? I feel like I could be a bolder rider if I could consistently trust my horse. Just when I think I can, he pulls a stunt that puts me off balance, mostly figuratively but sometimes literally, too.


Tracey Snow August 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I read this with mixed feeling……………………..I know just where you are coming from as I’m RBI with a LBI ! I hope you find the right home for your LBI and go on to find a easier partner.


Caroline August 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Thanks, Tracy! Actually, after writing that message, I decided to go back and see what I could do differently and we’ve been having some more unified rides…we’ll see where this goes. What do you do with your horse and what has worked for you both?


Bonnie August 30, 2012 at 4:05 am

Hi Caroline,
I have a RBI/RBE gelding I can play fantastic games with at liberty. When I bought him as a 2 year old, his owners told me not to remove his halter or I would never be able to catch him. I removed his halter immediately. I have worked with him over 7 years. He had 6 months training with a PNH Level 3 professional. I have trail ridden him extensively at the beach, rivers, mountains and lakes. We’ve been horse camping many times. I have ridden him in Dave Ellis’s clinics (excellent). I love my horse, but cannot trust him on the trail. He’s very spooky and over reacts and checks out mentally at seemingly small things. I have 3 other horses I raised using PNH that are great trail horses. I have decided to sell my spooky horse because I don”t want to get hurt (I have already come off 3 times – spin and bolt). I know how you feel because I really love this horse too. Good luck and I wish the best for you.


Caroline September 17, 2012 at 12:20 am

Thanks, Bonnie!


corinne markov July 28, 2012 at 5:22 am

Hi Linda

I have an experience with my left brain extrovert mare, where the idea of being slow and repetitive was the right thing to do for her. She was 6, with a dominant personality – no fear of anything. I thought that keeping provocative and moving so not to let her get bored was best for her – as a result of the programme. However, it was totally the wrong thing for her. In fact, when I sent her away to be trained with a P. professional, she was worse. In the end – very simple and repetitive work gave her back her confidence. Simple and specific was best for her. In fact, she started some basic dressage training – and loved it – because of the clarity of the repetitiveness. So, there you go!


Pattie OBrien May 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Linda if not for the Horsenality/Humanality reports I think I would be so at a loss to deal with the various equines in my life. Thanks again and again and again. And thank you for giving each of your many students time to answer their questions and comments helping them through their individual situation with their horses. I have learned so much not only from your comments about my situations with ShyLow, but all of the comments helping others.
And by the way the last situation at Amy Bowers’ clinic May 13th. After lots of thought I finally think I have the answer of why my horse bucked. Answer is — wrong equipement on saddle. Flank cinch was not really one just a substitute and too wide thus tickling her ribs and blam buck mode. Now have the correct flank cinch and did a test yesterday — no buck. Mmmm how interesting.


Deb and Jake May 22, 2012 at 6:25 am

haha!…it’s gotta be tough just being natural with each other at times when you both know humanalities inside out.. it’s soo easy to analyse everything and husbands hate to feel Parellied … and nothing feels innocent when you don’t do the right thing at the right time and of course we only have ourselves to blame because we now know what we are doing!
It’s nice when you feel that someone understands you but it makes it way worse when they use it against you in some way!
I would love to have my husbands humanality done but for all the right reasons lol
The horse/humanality reports are the best thing if as you say they are used to bring out the best and not the worst ;) x


Barbara May 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm

The Horsenality/Humanality report definetly opened my eyes to understanding what my horses need from me to be a good confident leader as I have two LBE/RBE one is very domineering and the other is reactionary.

Thanks Linda


Henny May 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

It’s as simple as this:
“Cause Your idea to become Your horses idea, but understand his idea first!”.
Then also a LE can become willing. A RE can become calm. A LI can become motivated/curious. A RI can become trusting.
And then “there is nothing You can’t do, once the horse becomes a part of You” :-)

Yes unfortunately it’s the hardest challenge to even recognize and then treat the husband accordingly :-) with all that emotions in the way…..
But at least now I became better with my own horses (before I was much better with horses of other people) and at least with my mother in law I practiced this successfully :-)


Julie May 13, 2012 at 1:56 am

Linda – my horses and I love you!! I think the “Horsenality” information has been one of the best things that has happened to *any* horsemanship (let alone PNH) program in the the world! This is a great blog about some of the misconceptions I hear about, too! It really is all about being the best partner I can be and learning how to “relate” to them so there is the greatest *harmony* that can be achieved – with horses, dogs, or humans!! It really is all about “love, language, and leadership”!

P.S. My boyfriend thinks the same! lol


Janie McLeod May 12, 2012 at 6:36 am

The Horsenality/Humanality report made a huge difference in my understanding my LBI Gelding. I had previously played with him using the Parelli principles and levels but had sort of let things go. I haven’t “officially” started playing with him on a regular basis since I got the report, but I understand him and what he does a lot better. When I’m hanging out with the horses after dinnertime I sometimes play with him very informally to see what he remembers from before. When I was playing “Hide your Hiney” with him the other evening he decided to play it back with me. As I moved around him in a menacing stance he moved around me and nipped ME on the hiney. While I know nipping, biting or even being mouthy is NEVER funny, after reading his Horsenality report I had to laugh. Yes, he was dominating me and being the Alpha, but I understood what he was doing and didn’t automatically get mad at him. I just told my RBE self I had to get better at it than he is. The LBI’s are mysteries . At times I appear to be the Alpha and he is very willing. At other times I don’t get the job done. The two of us have been together for many years, and I see many more in our future, God willing. I just have to become a more capable and interesting partner for him. Thanks to the Horsenality/Humanality report I know this. Thank you Linda.


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