The More, ahem, “Robust” Type Mustang

This pose shows off Bella's Percheron'esque derriere quite nicely, I think.

This pose shows off Bella's Percheron'esque derriere quite nicely, I think.

I bought my very first piece of original art when I was in college — a French lithograph of a teeny, tiny boy standing behind a huge Percheron draft horse, holding her lead rope and yelling at her in French to “move her butt!” Which was literally the only part of her anatomy visible in the sketch. Her name was Bijou, which means jewel in French.

The piece was totally irresistible for me. I had to have it. Maybe I had a premonition that a very similar equine jewel would come into my life one day and become my pride and joy.

That would be my Mustang mare, Bella, above.

Eight years old now, Bella came to me as a 4-year-old from my friend Stephanie, the Mustang Mama of all time. Bella was the first of the many Mustangs  Stephanie has adopted over the years, and I have heard Stephanie express more than once that she was real lucky to make her acquaintance with Mustangs with a horse like Bella! (If you’ve read the recent posts, you know what some of Stephanie’s other Mustangs are like, and what challenges they’ve posed.)

Bella came from a Wyoming herd of Mustangs that has lots of Percheron draft horse blood mixed in, and she typifies what is called a Tai Yin constitution in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This stands for a combination of the elements Earth and Metal. In Horse Harmony — Understanding Horse Types and Temperaments, by Dr. Madalyn Ward, D.V.M., here are some of the passages she uses to describe the Tai Yin horse:

  • …the Tai Yin type tends to have a heavy body and move fairly slowly.
  • The Tai Yin horse is like an iceberg. If you don’t get to know him you may only see the tip of his deep, solid, stable character.
  • …tough physically, and he tends to be a dependable hard worker.
  • He is not overly ambitious, but once he learns a skill he will perform consistently.
  • …often a one-person horse who will not be happy performing for just anyone.
  • He makes a good stock horse but tends not to be quick enough for cutting or reining competition.
  • He is a dependable and competitive trail horse but is not really suited for endurance riding.

Are you getting the picture? Stout, slow, devoted, calm, steady. Likes routine. Likes his person. Doesn’t show a lot of emotion. Isn’t too flashy. Etc.

Nice attributes for a 6-month-old wild filly brought in off the range, wouldn’t you say?

Bella was a dream to work with and raise. Stephanie got up on her and never looked back — just rode her on down the road. In the 3 years she had Bella, Stephanie put hundreds of miles on her, took her camping, taught her to jump (well, after a fashion), to herd cows (also after a fashion), and to be a generally dependable mount.

Bella was a large colt, and she grew, and grew, . . . . . and grew. It became clear  early on that this was not a horse built for speed events or competitive jumping, or for the agility required in moving cattle. And, being rather lazy by nature, Bella often turned her back when it was time to be caught . . . because she knew what was coming and simply didn’t want to have to go to work that day — like some of us.

Stephanie knew I was considering taking another riding horse as a gift to myself for my 60th birthday and felt the match might be a good one. That is putting it mildly. I didn’t want to quit riding, but I wanted a horse I could trust, who wasn’t “hot-blooded” or hard to handle. Obviously, Bella and I were meant for each other and are very much alike. I don’t want to have to work too hard either, and would much rather take a 30-minute amble in the hills or a low-level dressage lesson than a 20-mile trail ride or gallop. Bella likes the same things I do, plus she loves all the extra time I spend fawning over her. The easier-going lifestyle has suited her constitution well too, as she continued to grow until she was 7 years old so now stands 16 hands and weighs in at about 1400 lbs.

If you want a steady pleasure mount, and like to bond with your horse, a Tai Yin might just be your best bet. Sure was for me!!!!


This is the end of this week’s series on Mustang types and temperaments, but we’ve only covered five out of the eleven types. And of course they apply to all horses, not just Mustangs. If you’re curious to learn about the other six types, or want to take an online test to find out the type of your own horse, check out the resources at Horse Harmony. There’s tons of fun stuff to do there, and the book is fantastic!

7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] The More, ahem, “Robust” Type Mustang Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Get Back on the Horse!The More, ahem, “Robust” Type MustangI Guess There’s A First Time For Everything […]

  2. 2

    […] We are all very relieved that our dear Gabriel is no longer suffering, and that he can finally find rest from his long and difficult life, but we are now grieving as much for Bella as for him and will be putting all our efforts in the next days and weeks to help her, and ourselves, adjust to such a tremendous loss. *************************************************************** YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT GABRIEL HERE, AND MORE ABOUT BELLA HERE. […]

  3. 3

    […] to do with my herd because all its members were elderly or ailing. And being a rather, ahem, robust draft horse type of Mustang, this is something Bella needs desperately! Bella is happy again, and slim (for her), and Lopeh has […]

  4. 4

    […] case in point. My Mustang mare, Bella, whom many of you have met through this blog, has never cottoned to the training exercise of […]

  5. 5

    […] too old and brittle to get her back into shape and trailworthy. Plus, my heart really lies with my Bella, and that’s who I want to do my working and riding […]

  6. 6

    […] case in point. My Mustang mare, Bella, whom many of you have met through this blog, has never cottoned to the training exercise of […]

  7. 7

    […] The More, ahem, “Robust” Type Mustang August 17th, 2009 | Tags: diet, fasting | Category: Horsin' Around, Leta's Blog, Mustangs, Personal Stuff, Uncategorized […]

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