Posts Tagged With: personalities

Horses and Villains

Coming Soon:

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies.
One dirty cop.
Will she be next?


What I’m reading: BushWhacked, A Thea Campbell Mystery by Susan Schreyer

I don’t know about you, but the villains who scare me the most are the quiet ones you don’t know are after you. The stalkers, revenge seekers, serial killers. They don’t attract attention. Instead they stubbornly and relentlessly do their thing in the background.

Oddly enough, there are horses like this too. While not intent on hurting anyone, they can be quite determined to get their own way. When the Introvert-Thinker decides on something, it can be difficult to change his/her mind.

My husband’s horse Koko is a strong I-T. A sweet, laid-back Quarter Horse type, she is the poster child for stubborn. She’s quite happy carrying along a beginner, non-demanding rider, but if you ask for something that takes more energy than she’s willing to put out at the time, you should be prepared for a difficult “discussion.” One time when our trainer was giving my husband a lesson, Koko absolutely refused to take the right lead at the canter. (When you are on a circle, you want the inside front leg to move first [lead]. It’s more balanced and comfortable that way.) So the trainer hopped on to fix the problem. About ten minutes later she gave up in frustration. It wasn’t going to happen that day.

On the other hand, the Introvert-Thinker can be great for inexperienced riders. Nothing much ever bothers Koko, so she takes good care of her passengers. We can put anyone on her and they will have a good time. She’s our “pony -ride” horse. And since hubby only rides occasionally, her lazy attitude works well for him.

Even though she’s laid-back, Koko is definitely not dull. She is a thinker, with a busy mind and likes to play with things when she’s bored. One time my husband put up lights on the eaves of the barn. A couple of days later she had removed them all. She is also a master at turning the barn lights on and off, opening gates, untying ropes and even removing shoe laces! As my husband says, she has a very dry sense of humor—which he thoroughly enjoys.

To be quite clear, it’s very rare for a horse to deliberately try to hurt anyone, but, just as with people, there are occasional bad apples. Perhaps they’ve had bad treatment or just have a screw loose. An I-T with a personality disorder can be really dangerous because you aren’t expecting a problem. But watch out. They will plot to get you. I’ve encountered a couple and the experience wasn’t pleasant.

One time I was trying out a sale horse. After unsuccessfully attempting to scrape me off on a tree, he started rearing. I leaned forward to keep my balance and he quite deliberately swung his head back and smashed me in the face. After I wiped off the blood and picked up my broken glasses, I led him back to the barn. He’d gotten what he wanted.

So, are your villains Thinker or Reactor types? Do they plot behind the scenes, planning an elaborate revenge? Or do they get caught up in a situation and respond without thinking? Both are scary. Which is worse?

Coming Soon:  Wyoming Escape
                           
Two dead bodies.  One dirty cop.  Will she be next?

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Horses and Heroines

What I’m reading: The Girl in The Box by Janet Miller – Futuristic tale about true love – what else?

In my last blog three weeks ago I talked about different horse personalities, particularly the Extrovert Thinker as typified by my horse Star and how this type relates to Alpha Heroes. Today, I’d like to discuss the Extrovert Reactor and the smart-ass, quirky heroine.

First, a quick note. These personality types are on a continuum, of course. Some are more extroverted than others, some are less reactive. Some can change—become less introverted or more of a thinker. But their basic type remains and influences their actions.

Portia at 29

My mare Portia, a grey Anglo-Arab (half Thoroughbred and half Arabian), is a typical Extrovert Reactor. She’s very sensitive to stimuli and hyper-aware of her environment. Even at age twenty-nine and retired, she can be challenging and needs an experienced handler. Not that she’d ever deliberately hurt someone, she just tends to react first and think later.

She’s also a horse that really enjoys life. She loves to play and will try her best to please. She’s the one who yells a greeting when she sees me and comes running up to the gate eager for a treat or an outing. In the show ring or a parade, when she “turned on” all eyes were on her. She also used to fly down a new trail with her incredible walk, eager to see what was around the next corner. Even though she can be a pain in the butt, her exuberance is a lot of fun.

When I first got her as a seven year-old, she was ready to spin and bolt at the slightest provocation—a rock that looked funny, a horse scratching it’s ear with a hind leg, a COW on the trail! She soon learned bolting wasn’t acceptable behavior so she tried others. Like teleporting half way across the arena or jittering in place or jumping straight up. I eventually discovered that part of the reason for her reactivity was because she was in pain. She needed chiropractic care (just starting with horses at that time and not widely accepted) and a correctly fitted saddle (which proved to be almost impossible to find). Once those problems were solved, she settled down a lot.

But she still retained her quirky personality. One time we hung a bright pink piñata in a tree near the pasture and she and my daughter’s horse decided that it was a decidedly SCARY thing. They came up close to the fence, took a look, then snorted and high-tailed it back to the barn. Duchess stayed there, but Portia couldn’t resist. She’d dance back up to the fence and watch big-eyed as one of kids swung at the colorful unicorn. Then she’d take off for the other end. A few minutes later, she was back, waiting to be “scared” again. I swear she was disappointed when the thing finally broke and everyone went away.

Her playfulness and sensitivity made her a delight to train. She was eager to learn new things and would try her hardest to do what I asked. Of course, this meant I had to be quite careful  with my corrections so I wouldn’t discourage her. In general, she’s always required a very light hand. As a result, I got a horse responsive to the slightest cue and that just about read my mind.

Riding her was never dull. As I mentioned, she is a sweet love and would never deliberately hurt anyone. But she could be a handful. She saved my bacon a few times—even if she caused the problem in the first place.

One time we were exploring in the mountains and I twisted around in the saddle to get a map out of the saddlebag behind me. Just then a pair of fawns exploded across the trail, directly in front of us. Portia spun aside–out from under me because of the way I was turned. I ended up hanging off her, one hand somehow on her bridle, one hand on the breast collar, one foot still in a stirrup under her belly and the other still in the stirrup on top of her back. Because of how far down I was and the fact the saddle was slipping, I couldn’t get back up. Another horse might have freaked and tried to get rid of me, but Portia stood perfectly still and waited for me to work myself loose of the stirrups and drop to the ground. I really couldn’t blame her for dodging  the fawns and I certainly appreciated her being sensible.

She reminds me of the funny, smart-aleck heroines who react without thinking things through. They may get into trouble for their impulsiveness, but they care about people and manage to come out okay. I can think of several. How about you?

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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.

StockFreeImages.com

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?

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