Horse Training: Does Your Horse’s Tail Count?

Here’s an interesting experiment you can try on your horse: Hold the base of your horse’s tail with one hand and use your other hand to shape the tail into a question mark.

Now try rotating your horse’s tale in a circle in any direction.

Was your horse’s tail flexible or stiff like a board? The results of this glue test tell a story!

What stories does your horse’s tail tell?

I originally learned this bodywork technique when I was studying with a TTouch practitioner, so I think it comes from material created by Linda Tellington-Jones. According to this practitioner, the flexibility of a horse’s tail tells you how flexible its personality is … or how open it is to change.

Back then, I only had one horse and I didn’t think much about this test. I was more interested in showing and winning, so my horse basically had to do what I asked of it, flexible tail or not.

These days, I have a herd of five horses, each with a very distinctive horse personality. I suddenly remembered this little test and tested it on every horse. Guess what? The results were very “revealing” and matched each horse’s personality to perfection.

The results of the tail test

Therefore, the results are surprising and predictable. Here’s a list of my horses, as well as each horse’s personality type (based on the Horse Harmony personality typing system developed by Dr. Madalyn Ward).

  • Valentine: Wood (who wants to win, also playful)
  • Samantha: Fire / Wood or Shao Yang (an ultimate competitor with speed)
  • Reyacita: Metal (needs to know her job, loves routine)
  • Walker: Fire / Water or Shao Yin (very smart, not very harsh)
  • Fezzywig: I’m not sure

So the results of the queue test were:

  • Valentine: Quite flexible
  • Samantha: stiff as a board
  • Reyacita: rigid as a board
  • Walker: stiff as a board
  • Fezzywig: flexible like a rubber hose

These results were very interesting to me. I couldn’t have predicted some of these results. This is why.

In love

I would have predicted that her personality, being quite competitive and sometimes aggressive, would be quite rigid because she doesn’t always go along with my training schedule. However, the playful side of Wood’s personality means that she’s open to anything that might be fun or interesting (or gets her in trouble, which she doesn’t care in the least). So that side of her makes her tail quite flexible.


The fact that his tail was stiff was not much of a surprise. Samantha has always been a “my way or the road” type girl, willing to cooperate just to win. The Fire aspect of her personality makes her inflexible, as Fire-type horses can be very rigid in both their mental processes and their bodies.


Metal horses love routine and have to “know” their job description to feel comfortable. Playing with the tail was not part of Reyacita’s job description, so her tail was stiff. Also, anything “out of the ordinary” causes a Metal horse to resist, so its stiff tail wasn’t a surprise either.


His tail was a big surprise. Typically, Shoa Yin horses are about “getting along”. In fact, many Shao Yin horses will be so focused on pleasing their owner that they will literally walk away until they fall, all in the name of being complacent. However, since Walker has fire in his temper, he’s also stiff in certain respects (as he’s shown me recently). I’d mistaken his easygoing temperament for a marshmallow, but the stiffness of his tail and his recent clear demands tell me he’s not quite a softie. In fact, I am discovering that many Shao Yin horses will demand their way or literally die trying. They can be surprisingly stiff.


I haven’t figured out Fezzy’s horse personality type yet, but his tail is as flexible as a rubber hose so I’m guessing he doesn’t have Fire in him. He seems quite easygoing, fun-loving, and brave. He also has a sweet tooth, so I’m assuming it’s Earth or one of the Earth combination types. More to be revealed …

Winter tail tales

I hope you enjoyed this little article, and maybe it will inspire you to go out and find out what tales your horse’s tail tells you. After all, it’s winter (at least here in Colorado) and there’s not much to do, so this might help keep cabin fever at bay … at least for a day or two!

Enjoy … and if you want to write down the personality of your horse (or yourself) or learn more about the personality types of horses, visit the websites below:

Horse Harmony Test

Horse Harmony Resources

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