We all want to understand our horses better don’t we? We can’t get them to talk directly to us but we can learn a lot by observing them. This book by Linda Tellington-Jones is an entertaining way to understand your horse’s personality. The main focus is on observing the physical structure of the head. This is not just casual observation but observing the details; what is the shape of the eyes, the nostrils, the muzzle, the ears, the jowl, the nose. Then when you have observed all of this can you put together a total picture of what it indicates about your horse’s personality.
Linda Tellington-Jones is a master at horse observation that began when she was 12 watching the behavior of herd horses. Over the years she studied and gained respect for the art of personality analysis cultures that hold horses in high regard as individual beings. In the early 1960’s she did a survey of 1,500 horses from nine different countries. The survey asked about the placement and number of whorls on the horses’ heads and also to provide a description of the behavior and attitude of the horse. Surprisingly the results correlated with what she had learned from her Grandfather who trained racehorses in the stables of Czar Nicholas II.
Tellington-Jones began to lecture on personality analysis of horses in the 1970 and was amazed at the interest this subject generated. Her method of training and riding stresses communication and not dominance. I have previously reviewed her training book “ Horse Behavior and Training” and have found her methods to be very successful with my horse Biasini who can be a bit of a nervous fellow. So when a friend showed me this book I was immediately interested.
In Part One the book starts with evaluating the various aspects of the horses head and has clear drawings to illustrate the various points to be observed and also gives interpretations of what these points can indicate. Then there are exercises with photos to train your eye to observe the profiles, ears, nostrils etc. Tellington-Jones then gives us 21 personality evaluations of horses from her own work.
In Part Two she discusses conformation, health and the environment. Part Three is “How to Bring out the Best in Your Horse.” This includes some of the Tellington Touch exercises you can do with your horse.
I should point out that at no time does Tellington-Jones say that the various points observed on the horse are a ‘written in stone’ evaluation. She stresses the importance of looking at all of the points and not giving too much weight to just one thing. For example my horse Biasini has a “quirk bump”. This could be a difficulty but it is balanced by other factors such as high intelligence, willingness to work and good capacity to learn that is seen in other physical points.
If you are interested in learning more about your horse and understanding his or her personality better this is an excellent book to have as a resource for better communication. It is not intended at a ‘be all and end all’ of horse psychiatry but it is a useful and entertaining tool. As you can see from the picture of the cover this is a book that has already been read by many!