Do I use the PNH Horsenality Chart?
A horse owner asks in response to Handsome Harry’s playful behavior:
Very much a left brained extrovert you've got there in Harry, am I right?
In regards to PNH horsenality chart-yes 🤠
However Dr. Stephen Peters, a Neuro scientist who has studied horse and human brains extensively, reports horses do not have two separate parts of the brain like humans do.
Now that being said, each side of the horse’s brain is wired for different functions and has different Neuro responses and chemical releases that contribute to the operation of the whole and how a horse responds to inner and outer stimulus.
When the chart refers to the "left" and "right" brain, I believe what they are really seeing is the autonomic nervous system in action.
The "left" side of the brain behavior is when a horse is more in the parasympathetic nervous system and is often a horse that has what we refer to as more "whoa" than go.
The "right" side of the brain behavior is when a horse is more in the sympathetic nervous system and is often a horse that has more "go" than whoa.
But because all horses have a fight/flight response as do humans, which is the sympathetic nervous system, is the reason any horse can be a "right" brain horse. Having the parasympathetic nervous as well, is why we can see "right' brain horses behave as "left" brain horses.
Now throw in the human who is unaware of their own autonomic nervous system and how it influences their behavior and that of the horse and now you have frustration. confusion and chaos.
We can also unknowingly teach our horses to find more comfort in the sympathetic nervous system than we would like them to be or is healthy for them.
Hence the reason we have so many ulcers in our horses as well as displaced behaviors.
But that is a topic for a whole other conversation 🙂
I try not to label horses with the horsenality chart, because when we humans put labels to our horses we tend to put them in a box.
We do the same with children and each other.
I believe that it actually gets in our way of learning to feel and understand our horses.
I don’t encourage my students to use the chart 🙃
I, for one, have seen one horse show up in all four quadrants of the horsenality chart on different days and even in different moments in a 3 hour high country trail ride.
The chart can be a handy tool for teaching beginners observational skills and how to begin to read their horses behavior.
The chart is very usual for gaining an understanding of the behaviors of the horses and to help students understand how to meet the horse where they are, but no horse is just one of the 4 quadrants nor do they really have to separate parts of the brain .
I encourage us all to meet the horse that greets us each day.