Every horse has a personality however it was a delight to hear Rose Brown (www.equipoiseshiatsu.co.uk ) give a fascinating talk on equine shiatsu - think finger pressure massage applied to horses - and the great importance she attaches to making a diagnosis of the patient horse “personality type” before undertaking any of her work.
So what are the types she looks to identify? Essentially she goes back the heart of traditional oriental medicine (which has been around for thousands of years) and to the theory of the five elements and phases – Fire , Earth , Metal, Water and Wood – each horse will have traits of each element and broadly speaking only one dominant element.
Her first job is to identify that dominating element.
Without going too much into the rich loamy detail – it takes over 3 years of hard study to qualify to practise equine shiatsu – There is a science, (and Rose would know - she was formerly an industrial chemist) but it is complex to understand so here are just a few of the specific characteristics of each element type she looks out for ( with thanks and credit to www.equineshiatsu.org ) Recognise any of them?
Fire Horses are 'Beautiful people'.
Fire horses are the “beautiful people”. Physically, they are usually quite pretty, but always eye-catching and while they can have good musculature, they tend to be finer or more delicate than a Wood or Water horse. They adore attention and are often very friendly to both people and other horses – life is one big party! They are playful and sociable and love to be with others.
Earth Horses are 'safe, reliable and dependable'.
Earth horses are safe, reliable and dependable. They represent security and support. An Earth horse is grounded. When under stress, this horse is likely to comfort eat and so food has an important part in its life. Earth horses like to be comfortable and working too hard is not appreciated and so they are often quite well rounded.
Metal Horses have 'strength and accuracy'.
Metal horses are associated with strength and accuracy. Metal is precise and as such rules and regulations are important to a Metal horse. These horses are often very polite as it’s against the rules and regulations to bite, kick or show extreme behaviour and therefore the communications are much more subtle and you will have to be very much aware of what the horse is telling you.
Water Horses 'flow'.
Water horses flow. They have good bone structure and easy flowing, effortless movement. Their musculature is good and they usually have good conformation which makes them attractive to look at. They can appear to be quite laid back as when water meets an obstacle, it’s usually easiest just to flow around it rather than fight. However, it can be a tsunami and smash its way through without thought to destruction or personal injury. But whatever happens, it will MOVE – forwards, backwards, away and so the negative side to these horses is that they can be fearful.
Wood horses have 'never say die' quality
Wood horses have that never-say-die quality. Wood is constantly growing, spreading and looking for ways to move on. Physically Wood horses have great musculature, self-confidence and an air of purpose. They are very competitive and know where they are going and how they are going to get there. The negative side of this is that if they become hindered or prevented from doing what they want, or if they think that people are not listening, they can become angry, frustrated and even aggressive.
Once you have cracked the personality type you are able better understand which “meridians” you need to probably focus upon and develop a plan of action – that is probably best left as a subject for a future posting!
I thought that this was an intriguing analysis – I was aware of the Parelli segmentation of horse types into introvert/ extrovert and right hand / left hand dominating sides of the brain – however this segmentation seems a lot more comprehensive somehow. Certainly it all seemed to resonate with everybody else at the event – it didn’t take long for everybody there to be thinking of horses that were typically Fire, Wood or Water.
Try it out? Does it work for you? Can you recognise your horse?
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