Personalities, Horses and Heroes

Opportunity Knocks at Marketing For Romance Writers Summer Camp. Open the door to our MOTTO: SEEK, TEACH, LEARN, SHARE, SUCCEED

What I’m reading: Satin Pleasures by Karen Docter – Fun frolic about keeping priorities straight.

Next week I’ll be hosting Pauline Baird Jones who is going to talk about being teachable—an important ability for everyone, including riders and writers. So this time I thought I’d talk about how personality influences teaching and learning.

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I started training animals when I was a pre-teen, taught school in my 20’s, educated my kids (at least in some things) as I raised them and  ended up teaching engineers to use sophisticated software to design computer components. Along the way I learned how much the personality of the animal or human influences how they learn.

My first instructor in this area was my horse, Star, who I talked about last time. I became pretty successful in teaching her to do a lot of different things. Then her second son, Junior, came along and I discovered I needed a different set of tools to work with him. And this has been true with each horse I’ve dealt with.

You can classify horses as having one of four basic personalities. Just like with people, they can be Extroverts or Introverts. They also can be Thinkers or Reacters (emotional). So you can have an extroverted thinker, an extroverted reacter, an introverted thinker and an introverted reacter. Then you add their gender and their experience into the equation and you have a complicated being that requires some thought to train effectively. Each personality type has its pluses and minuses and is good for different things and different riders.

Star was an extroverted thinker. She was friendly, self-confident, rarely afraid of anything and willing to try whatever I asked her. She was also strong-willed and could be difficult. Horses are prey animals and, as such, are basically “scaredy cats.” In the wild they stay alive by being hyper-aware of their environment and ready to run on an instant. Domestication hasn’t done away with that basic instinct. A horse whose emotions dominate sees threats everywhere and can react without thinking. My Portia is a prime example. When I first got her, she would whirl and try to bolt at the slightest provocation. Typical extroverted reacter.

Star, on the other hand, rarely ever reacted to anything. Her version of a spook was to stop, study the offending object for a minute and then go up and sniff it. She had grown up along a railroad track and had experienced earth moving equipment moving around her space, so she learned early that loud noises and big things weren’t usually dangerous. Given her basic self-confidence, she extended this attitude to the rest of her world. You could surprise her, of course. She wasn’t bothered by the fire engine racing down the street, but nearly jumped onto our neighbor’s porch when it suddenly blasted its siren right alongside her. Scared the dickens out of me too!

Because of her personality, Star was easy to teach, once we started communicating properly. She enjoyed learning, experiencing new things and exploring new trails. Portia likes to learn too but gets upset easily, which shuts down her brain. On the other hand, Glory, an introverted reacter, is harder to teach because she’s afraid to try new things. And my husband’s horse, Koko, an introverted thinker, can be down right stubborn about trying anything new. So I have to adjust my methods for each personality.

These personality styles correlate to the characters I write about too. Alpha heroes, particularly military men, are commonly the extroverted thinker type. Brave, self-confident, ready to take on anything. Spunky, smart-ass heroines are usually extrovert reacters. They often take chances, letting their emotions rule their common sense. The quieter “beta” heroes, introverted thinkers, stubbornly do what they think is best. And often the heroine starts out as an introverted reacter but changes during the story.

What personality types do you like best? What type are you? What types do you like to read or write about?

I’m helping to promote an upcoming program for writers called Marketing for Romance Writers Summer Camp. It takes place July 14th – July 15th. To receive updates for the camp or learn more about it and MFRW, please sign up here:

 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MarketingForRomanceWriters/

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6 thoughts on “Personalities, Horses and Heroes

  1. What a cool post, especially given the fact that I love anything about horses and this was truly interesting about their different personalities. I’m still trying to figure out my own horse, based on your definitions. He doesn’t spook easily and when he does spook he can be calmed down within seconds. He’s an extrovert in the sense that he’s a social butterfly and loves attention yet he can be stubborn if he doesn’t want to do arena work after 20 minutes!
    Thank you.
    Patti

  2. Sounds like he’s an extroverted thinker. Thinkers get bored easily. You have to keep them interested by changing up things. I get bored with arena work too.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Star sounds incredible! 🙂

  4. She was a very special horse–one in a million. I was so lucky to have her.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Julie Robinson

    Love your Meyers-Briggs analysis of horse/people personalities. I’ve taken the test before and come out pretty even on the extrovert/introvert with slightly more not the extrovert. Same thing with the thinker/feeler, but with more emphasis not the feeler. Come to think of it, I guess I do like to read about heroines I can identify with. My favorite hero to read about is a military or law enforcement guy, so guess I’d go for the extroverted thinker—though I’m married to a (mostly) introverted thinker.

  6. We all are interesting mixes, aren’t we? And while most of us enjoy reading about the alpha hero, I’m not sure how many of us actually would like living with one. 😉

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