You don't have to be a horse whisperer or an equine psychotherapist to know your 'phobic' from your 'grump'. Vanessa Fletcher gives a run down of the horse personalities that are likely to ring a bell with you...
1. The Grump
Takes every opportunity to pin his ears back and grind his teeth at anything on two legs — or four. Never in a good mood, even when sleeping. Avoid being within 10ft of him if he’s eating or the faces can turn into well aimed hooves or teeth.
Requirements: Well-padded clothing and quick reflexes.
2. The Squealer
Usually a mare, she loves to play ‘chicken’ with another horse. They sniff each other’s nostrils hesitantly before one emits a high-pitched squeal and lifts a front leg to lash out with. Whoever squeals first, wins.
Requirements: An owner who doesn’t flinch at sudden noises. Not for someone of a nervous disposition.
3. The Napper
This type of horse prefers to choose the route and starting time of any journey. He loves going backwards, preferably at speed with a couple of fancy spins and rears for good measure.
Requirements: Strong legs, cast-iron willpower and a lot of patience.
4. The Phobic
Usually of a highly-strung temperament, the phobic chooses at will what he’s pathologically terrified of on any given day. Today it could be pink flowers or his own water bucket. He can’t be persuaded that whatever the object is, it isn’t out to kill him.
Requirements: Sticky bum jodhpurs and an owner who thrives on exciting, unpredictable hacks.
5. The Mud Magnet
Usually greys who have no idea how hard it is to keep them clean for longer than five minutes. You soon learn stable stains won’t disappear no matter how expensive the shampoo or how hard you scrub. The patches only go a lighter shade of yellow. For this reason, if you have OCD tendencies, a grey will soon become your worst nightmare because the more you try to keep them clean, the dirtier they get.
Requirements: An extensive wardrobe of head-to-tail rugs and industrial size bottles of shampoo.
6. The Escape Artist
No matter how secure you think this horse is, be it in a field or stable, it will find a way out. These are the geniuses of the horse world who like to show you mere bolts won’t keep them in when there’s grass to be munched on the other side of the door. It’s a fact that these horses regularly refuse a 2ft jump, but they can clear the six-bar gate in the field, no problem.
Requirements: A stable yard like a maximum-security prison.
7. The Intuitive Horse
These horses assess a rider’s ability the moment their bottoms hit the saddle. Any rider who’s a push-over will get the full works — naps, spooks, bucks, whatever it takes to trigger tantrums and tears in the rider so they get off and the horse gets out of work for another day.
Requirements: An experienced rider they can’t bully into tearful submission.
8. The Catch Me If You Can Horse
This horse spots you a mile away and gallops off in the opposite direction when it sees you. He knows all the latest catching techniques and no amount of bribery, trickery or chasing will get him on the end of that leadrope, unless he says so.
Requirements: A super fit owner. If you aren’t when you buy one of these horses, you soon will be. A resourceful owner is a must, along with a sense of humour when you find yourself face-down in the mud after making another badly timed dive for the headcollar.
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9. The Expanding Waistline Horse
The girth was tight till you put your foot in the stirrup but once again, the saddle’s under the horse’s belly and the girth could easily go up another 10 holes. This horse knows what’s coming and prefers to spend a day in the stable, eating hay. He puffs his belly out like a puffer fish whilst you do up the girth. The minute you put your foot in the stirrup, he knows it’s safe to breathe out. Playing a waiting game makes no difference, he can breathe out for hours.
Requirements: A mounting block. An understanding tacking up can take several hours. Not suitable for an impatient owner.
10. The Bedding Muncher
You know you put oodles of straw down before you left, but in the morning, there’s only a few stalks left. The more straw you put down, the more he’ll eat. The only bonus is that mucking out takes minutes as there’s no need for a fork.
Requirements: A sturdy shovel, shavings, or an inexhaustible supply of straw.