A Fresh Approach to an Old Frontier: Measuring and Applying Your Horse’s Temperament


By Kaitlin Hendry

I avoid chestnut mares at all costs… Thoroughbreds are too quirky for me… This horse isn’t amateur friendly… ISO a husband horse… Eventing horses need to brave and careful… I need a babysitter-type for a timid kid…

I think we can all agree that horses have different personalities, and whether we realize it or not, we’re always talking about it. Temperament comes up when buying and selling, showing, breeding, when training, breed inspections… it’s impossible to avoid! Over time, we can observe and work with a horse to learn his or her personality. Subsequently, often with a hunch and through trial and error, we can figure out which handling and training methods work best for that particular horse.

But what if we could take the guesswork out of it and cut down on the time it takes to get to know a horse? What if we could learn a horse’s personality faster and leverage it in order to:

  • predict his or her behavior,
  • choose better training methods for him or her,
  • make more informed sales and breeding matches, and
  • determine aptitude for different disciplines?

I developed Equine Performance Identities (EqPI) to help us do just that. 

“Okay… so you want to measure horse personalities. There are already horse personality models out there. What makes EqPI different?”

EqPI is adapted from Predictive Index, a scientifically validated, behavioral self-assessment for people that is an extremely effective tool in the “corporate world” for matching people with jobs, building teams and relationships, motivating and fostering engagement, and self-development. I have been using this tool for years within my corporate career and have seen the positive impact it can have on people. 

I started playing around with using it on my own horses and talked about it with my friends and their horses. Everyone was just as fascinated as I was at how well it seemed to translate to horses. So, I decided to create a tool that could provide other people the same value with their horses!

Other horse personality models, in my opinion, oversimplify things. There are a lot of models out there claiming that there are only a handful of different types of horses, but can personality really be categorized so cleanly? In reality, personality has a lot of complexities that I don’t think are represented well in the models that already exist. EqPI is attempting to bridge that gap between acknowledging the complexity and communicating it in a simple way that can be widely understood and applied.

“Okay… so how does it work?”

EqPI is based on the trait theory by psychologist William Moulton Marston, which says that personality can generally be categorized into four traits based on how they interact with their environment. The traits have been called different names by different tools, but in EqPI, they are called: Dominance, Extraversion, Stability, Structure. 

“Wait a minute… you just said you couldn’t ‘bucket’ personality, but now you’re saying there are only four spectrums?” 

Here’s where EqPI starts to get into the complexity of personalities. When measuring these spectrums for each horse, we can determine if the horse is considered high, low, or situational for each spectrum. Based on where the horse falls on each spectrum, there are certain behaviors we can expect to observe. In addition to looking at the four spectrums, we can also make reasonable assumptions about the horse’s behavior based on how those spectrums relate to each other

After analyzing these three things, we then know what the horse’s “EqPI Profile” is. So, if you do the math there are 4 spectrums. Each spectrum can be high, low, or situational. Then we look at all of the spectrum relationships—phew! That’s a lot of different profile possibilities! It’s no wonder why it can take so long to get to know a horse!

In addition to looking at each spectrum and the relationships between the spectrums, I also look at how strong those two things are. The closer an individual spectrum is to 1 or -1, the stronger that spectrum is for the horse, and therefore, the more predictable those behaviors will be. When looking at the relationships between spectrums, the farther apart the two spectrums are from each other, the stronger and more predictable the behaviors will be associated with that relationship. 

“Even if I know my horse’s profile, I’m not an expert in EqPI, so how will I know how to use it?

Based on which spectrums and relationships are the strongest for the horse, I can make educated suggestions for tips for working with that horse, which I provide in a profile report. A tip that is associated with a strong spectrum or relationship is going to have a bigger impact on the horse and your relationship with them than a tip for a spectrum that is just situational for the horse. With these tips, you can start to leverage your horse’s EqPI profile as soon as you get the report without having to be an expert in EqPI. If you want to learn even more about your horse’s profile, you can always reach out to schedule a consult where I can meet or call with you to dive into even more detail than the report provides.

Since publicly launching the tool in August of 2022, the average accuracy of the EqPI profiles at the time of publishing is an 8.96 out of 10, and over 95% of people would recommend it to others.

“How do I learn more or take the assessment for my horse?”

After begging for years to have riding lessons, Kaitlin Hendry started riding horses at 8 years old and never looked back. Although her career and relationship with horses has evolved over time, horses are part of her life for the long haul! In this new chapter, she is taking her passion for individual motivation from her corporate job where she fuels her co-workers’ growth and engagement to the horse world with her new tool, Equine Performance Identities. With EqPI, Kaitlin hopes to bring the value of behavioral assessments to the equine industry to create a world where every horse thrives because they are understood at an individual level. To learn more, visit www.equineperformanceidentities.com, find EqPI on social @horsepersonalities, or try the assessment for your horse!

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