Mustangs Come in All Sizes, Shapes, Colors, and . . . Yes, Personalities

Fred - Still "Twya" at This Time

Fred - Still "Twya" at this time ... but not for long ...

Meet Fred. Fred is a girl — a Mustang girl. In this picture she is about 1 year old and is in the process of killing the saddle blanket you see on the ground to express her displeasure at being asked to stand tied for a short period of time.

Fred is short for Frederika, a lovely feminine name, but since she was such a tomboy, this girl quickly earned the nickname “Fred.” The name thing had been a progression, all based on her personality as it began to emerge — strongly emerge!

Before Frederika she was called “Twya,” because she was so tiny and delicate when my friend Stephanie spotted her at the Canon City, CO prison BLM Mustang sale one winter. Twya was only about 3 months of age, hiding behind her mama, peeking out cautiously. How could one possibly resist such a precious little ball of splatter-painted horse flesh?

Stephanie is a seasoned Mustang gal — we call her the zen cowgirl because of her many and varied attributes and talents, not the least of which is wrangling just about any horse anybody else won’t. She has adopted one Mustang a year now for a long time, and every single one has been vastly different from all the rest. Fred fell somewhere in the middle of that line a few years back, and we have all agreed — she took the cake hands down for being the most difficult of all of Stephanie’s Mustangs to date. Considering that she topped out at MAYBE 13 hands high when grown, that’s saying a lot!!!

Stephanie’s goal and vision with the Mustangs is to make them into great horses, keep 2 or 3 she can play and compete with at any given time, and match the others with really great homes. She has been very successful with this approach. But Fred was a great challenge, to say the least.

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, Five-Element way of typing personalities through identifying an individual’s constitution, Fred is what’s known as a Jue Yin. This is short, no …  Chinese, for a combination of  Wood/Fire. Now we all know what happens when you mix those two elements!

In Dr. Madalyn Ward’s book HORSE HARMONY – UNDERSTANDING HORSE TYPES AND TEMPERAMENTS, the key words she uses to describe the Jue Yin horse are “The Trick (and Tricky!) Horse.”  And one of the most telling adjectives she uses is, ahem, “unpredictable.” To quote (with permission):

The Jue Yin horse believes life is all about him! A well-balanced Jue Yin horse is friendly, likes attention, and has a well-developed sense of humor. The key to this horse’s personality is that he tends to function at either a “1” or a “10” (rarely in between!) and can change from one to the other in a heartbeat.

You’re probably getting the idea about Fred, huh?

Early on Fred demonstrated clearly that she would pretty much do whatever she darn well pleased, regardless of what was being asked. Oh yes, she was adorable and clever, friendly, beautiful and a pretty mover, but Stephanie never knew what the next breath held when she was riding or training Fred.

Some hold that horses either buck or run away when tested or scared, but not both. If that is true, Fred is a testament to the true bucking type. She bucked from the word GO. No matter what manner of training, tack, rewards or punishment were used, this was her favorite thing to do. Thank goodness she was short!

At the age of 3, after a record-setting buckaroo exhibition by Fred — 23 bucks in a row (and Stephanie didn’t even go off!), Stephanie finally called “Uncle” and gave up her previous hopes of making Fred into a flashy pony jumper for kids. You just wouldn’t want to put a kid on this horse!

Shortly after this deciding moment, Stephanie met up with a long, tall, skinny, drink-of-water cowpoke who was just crazy about Fred, and about twice as tall as her, and a match was made in Heaven! Fred could work hard and go all day, which he needed on the ranch, and he kinda liked her low-to-the-ground aspect.

When Stephanie ran into the cowpoke a year or so later she asked about Fred and if she was still bucking. “Oh yeah,” he drawled. “But I just like her so much I don’t mind hittin’ the ground every now and again.”


If you enjoyed this post and are intrigued by the different horse personality types, check out Dr. Ward’s book, HORSE HARMONY – UNDERSTANDING HORSE TYPES AND TEMPERAMENTS. And tomorrow we will look at another one of Stephanie’s Mustangs, Fred’s counterpart — a very different personality profile indeed!

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