Tuesday, 12 June 2012


As a  follow on to the introductory article on the origins of horse behaviour:  Why Does My Horse...? I have started to look a little more into individual differences between horses. In humans, this is referred to as 'personality', but is it appropriate to use this term when referring to horses? I don't think so, as 'personality' defines characteristics belonging to a 'person'. The word 'horsonality' is even worse: what is a horson? It sounds like a horse-person hybrid! If we must coin a word to refer to a horse's unique  characteristics then 'horsality' or 'equineality' is probably more correct.

Semantics apart, are there likely to be measurable  individual 'personality' differences between horses? Well yes, It does seem as if there are. But  these are more likely to be behavioural differences rather than what the horse actually 'thinks'.

Some research has attempted to adapt human psychometrics for horses. But as the horses can't complete the tests themselves, the results may be affected to some extent by the personality of the assessor.  In one study, handlers were asked to rate horses according to the Big Five factors. One of the major theories of personality states that all individual differences can be described according to how you score on each of the  'Big 5' traits.

These are:
  • Conscienciousness
  • Openness to Exerience
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism.

You can read the results of the study here:

Can Judges Agree on the Personality of Horses?

If you are interested in the human application of these traits, please check out the 'Psychology Articles' page of this blog for some fun interactve articles where you can explore your own personality traits.

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