Understanding the personality of your horse, coupled with knowledge of your own temperament and skill level, gives you the best chance for success in your daily rides. My goal in this series of articles is to share insights that may help you better understand your horse, yourself and other people you interact with. In parts one and two, I described the four basic horse personality types as I define them--Social, Aloof, Challenging and Fearful. In this part, Gail Rodecker, a professional Myers-Briggs consultant and administrator, explains how human personality is typed and how we can use this information in choosing and training dressage horses. In the next and last part of this series, I'll give you examples of good and not-so-good personality matches and explain how this information can also help you find a compatible instructor. --Yvonne Barteau
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had better insight into what makes each of us tick--why some of us thrive in the competition ring while others cringe at the thought of ever riding down that centerline? How can one rider absorb and make use of the harsh words of a tough clinician or judge while the next wilts under such pressure? Why does a particular horse frustrate one person and inspire another? The answers to these questions lie in our innate personality preferences, which have a tangible influence on all aspects of our lives. How we communicate, manage our relationships and ride and train our horses can often be traced back to our individual and unique personalities. What follows is a brief discourse on the different human personality types. Knowing and understanding ourselves and others can open a new world of clarity and appreciation of who we are and why we think and act the way we do. This information gives us a better understanding of how to communicate with the people and horses in our lives.
The Different Personality Types
Personality Type theory was developed in the 1920s by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and the mother/daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers. Since then, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), has become the most widely used and respected tool for facilitating communication among individuals and within organizations. About 2 million people in the United States take the MBTI each year.
Many of you have just begun to understand the personality types of horses in Yvonne's series in previous articles. Now, I will add to that by describing the basic eight possible preferences that comprise a human's personality type. According to the MBTI, there are four different components to our personalities. As you read this, remember that all types are needed in a society to accomplish the different work that needs to be done. No type is more desirable than any other, since each has strengths and weaknesses. The MBTI describes personalities with a four-letter acronym, such as ESTJ or INFP. Briefly, here are what the letters indicate:
Extravert/Introvert. The first letter describes how we are energized through people, action and events as extraverts or internally through thoughts, ideas and concepts as introverts. Extraverts will often express themselves easily and readily. They form their thoughts as they speak them. Introverts want and need time to reflect or mull over ideas before they present them. Being alone or quiet for too long is draining for an extravert. Too much interaction, particularly of a superficial nature or in large groups is wearying for an introvert.
In a riding/training situation, it is most helpful for both types to be aware of this significant difference. The extraverted trainer working with an extraverted rider may both leave a lesson a bit frustrated, feeling they had to fight for air-time. The introverted trainer and rider may leave their lesson with too much unsaid. When participants are cognizant of the extravert/introvert differences, extraverted trainers will know to give ample opportunity for their introverted students to speak up and voice concerns, maybe even asking pointed questions. Introverted instructors benefit from knowing that an extravert often must talk through the learning process in order to best understand and make use of the information.
Sensing/Intuition. The next letter indicates how we learn. A sensing type takes in information through the five senses in a factual, literal way and learns best when the information is presented in a straightforward, realistic manner. Intuitive types learn best when presented with concepts and general principles first. They become bored with too much repetition or routine.
It is a tremendous advantage for a trainer/rider pair to understand this difference. Imagine the frustration of the intuitive-type rider taking lessons from a sensing-type trainer, who makes every effort to organize her lessons in a clear, factual and sequential manner. Both try mightily, but both finish the lesson exasperated; the intuitive rider cannot concentrate on, nor is she interested in, so many details, and the sensing trainer cannot understand why, no matter how many times she explains something, the rider just doesn't get it!