Sunday, August 2, 2015

Horse Personality and Characters

A non-horsey friend remarked to me recently that she was amazed to learn that horses have individual personalities. It had never occurred to her. We who spend our lives with horses would respond, "Of course they do! What did you think?"  Indeed, we who know and love horses have no doubt run across certain ones who suffer from, shall we say, an excess of personality! (Dear Red Mare of mine, I'm thinking of you.)

No two horses I've owned have ever been alike.  Sure, they all had their individual strengths and weakness as far as training and talent, but more than that, they each had their own quirks, favorite treats, fears, and games they'd play with me or each other. I had one little grade horse who loved those horrible, chalky valentines candy hearts so much he would come running across a ten-acre field when he heard the box shake. Another, a huge ex-racer (pictured above), would roll on one side and instead of rising to his feet or flipping to the other side, usually sat up on his butt and walked his front feet across in order to collapse on his other side. The first time I witnessed him doing this, I ran into the field, certain that he had broken his pelvis or something.

I'm sure every horse lover reading this is conjuring up some kooky or endearing habit of a favorite horse. So now I have to ask, why are horses in books devoid of individual personality? Yes, they are often bold and generous and courageous or forgiving, but how about less lofty, abstract traits in favor of more concrete ones? Full confession, I feel now that I was remiss in not giving my horse characters in my novel more unique personalities. So, what do you say out there readers? Can you give me some experiences you've had with quirky, crazy, funny horse traits or have you known a real horse character who is crying out to be in a novel of his own?  Would love to hear from you!


  1. I have a Welsh Cob x and he's full of personality, so I try and give the ponies and horses in my books a few quirks of their own. In the book I'm working on now I have a pony who blows saliva bubbles when he gets bored, another who does handstands in his victory laps, one that's scared of motorbikes, and another who will stop and refuse to move at all if he doesn't feel like jumping...including in the middle of a jumping round! Oh and a grey pony who (like all greys) loooooves mud!

  2. That's personality! I love the blowing bubbles one. Ponies are a unique species. I have one that enjoyed picking up those traffic cones used for riding patterns and lobbing them at my very uptight Hanoverian mare. I could just see him sniggering afterwards.