Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Horse | Study: Match Personalities for Strong Horse, Woman Bond

Editor's note: This article is part of TheHorse.com's ongoing coverage of topics presented at the 2012 International Society of Equitation Science conference, held July 18-20 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

All right ladies, this one's for you. Do you think personalities matter when it comes to getting the right horse-rider relationship? According to a recently completed equitation science study, they certainly seem to. Research shows that women who "match up" their horses' personality traits to those of their own are more likely to have a better relationship with their animals.
Inga Wolframm, PhD, senior lecturer of equine leisure and sports at the University of Applied Science Van Hall Larenstein in Wageningen, The Netherlands, presented her research at the 8th International Society of Equitation Science conference, held July 18-20 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"We know from studies on humans that personality traits affect the way people cooperate and communicate with each other," Wolframm said. "Coaches and athletes who share personality traits seem to have better relationships than those who do not, and the same is true with marriage partners. Research has also shown this applies to dogs and their masters. So what I wanted to know was: what about horses and their riders?"
Wolframm's study was based on a Facebook questionnaire that spread "like a virus" in The Netherlands among equestrians between the ages of 18 and 70. The women were asked to rate 15 of their own personality traits (such as excitability, liveliness, consideration, and leadership). And--"as horses can't fill out questionnaires," Wolframm added--respondents were also asked to rate 15 of their horses' corresponding personality traits (such as emotional reactivity, ability to learn, how affectionate and sociable ["gregarious"] they are, and how easily riders felt their horses cooperated). Finally, they were asked to rate how they viewed their relationship with their horse, as low, medium, or high quality.

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