Five-Element Equine Temperament Test

Temperament testing or personality testing is an interesting (and fun!) way to better understand your horse.

One method of personality testing is to use Five-Element Theory, which was created and defined by Traditional Chinese Medicine. These five elements are FIRE, EARTH, METAL, WATER, and WOOD. Horses are often influenced by several of these elements, but may align primarily with one element in particular. The descriptions of each element, which have been adapted from several sources, are listed below.

Can you determine which element(s) best describes your horse?

Fire

  • Lively, very friendly, affectionate, center of the party
  • Enjoys being groomed
  • Enjoys showing off
  • Enjoys learning new training lessons
  • Friendly and playful with other horses
  • Anxious, reactive
  • During training issues gets excited and loses focus
  • Thin soled hooves
  • Anhydrosis, gastric ulcers
  • More problems in the summer and hot weather
  • Does not enjoy being stalled, weaving or stall walking

Earth

  • Relaxed, laid back, sociable, round and large, motherly, loyal
  • Falls asleep while being groomed
  • Enjoys minimal work (and eating!)
  • Gets grumpy when introducing new training lessons
  • Tolerant of other horses
  • Worried, often internalized worry
  • During training issues becomes sulky, pushy
  • Hooves prone to thrush
  • Digestive system issues, stocking up
  • More problems in the late summer and damp/humid weather
  • Does not enjoy being stalled, grouchy

Metal

  • Loves order, obeys rules, aloof, disciplined attitude, good haricot
  • Indifferent to being groomed
  • Enjoys consistency
  • Is willing to learn new training lessons
  • Bonds with other horses, very attached
  • Unconcerned
  • During training issues becomes stiff
  • Hooves upright and thick walled
  • Respiratory system issues, cough, dry skin
  • More problems in the fall and dry weather
  • Copes with being stalled

Water

  • Careful but curious, self contained, meditative, slow and consistent
  • Tense while being groomed
  • Enjoys feeling safe
  • New training lessons must be rewarded, learns slowly
  • Good with younger horses
  • Fearful, flighty
  • During training issues becomes afraid, unmanageable
  • Hooves fairly normal
  • Joint problems, lower back and hindend weakness
  • More problems in the winter and cold weather
  • Content being stalled

Wood

  • Decisive, assertive, confident, impulsive, athletic-stamina, alpha animal
  • Tolerates grooming, but only for short periods
  • Enjoys winning, competitive
  • Quickly bored when learning new training lessons
  • Irritable
  • Aggressive with other horses
  • During training issues becomes angry, resistant
  • Hooves thin walled
  • Weak and dry hooves, tendon and ligament problems, itchy skin, uveitis
  • More problems in the spring and windy weather
  • Does not enjoy being stalled, pawing or kicking

Resources

Beinfield, Harriet, and Efrem Korngold. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine. Ballantine, 1992.

Pet Personality & Clinical Signs, Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, www.tcvm.com.

Rathbone, Taryn. “Do You Know Which of the Five Elements Most Influences Your Horse?” Balanced Horse Veterinary Service, PLLC, Balanced Horse Veterinary Service, PLLC, 16 Apr. 2015, www.balancedhorsevet.com/blog/2015/4/16/do-you-know-which-of-the-five-elements-most-influences-your-horse.

Tenney, Susan. “5 Elements of Chinese Medicine – Fire Horse.” Equine Wellness Magazine, 15 Nov. 2018, equinewellnessmagazine.com/chinese-medicine-fire-horse/.

Ward, Madalyn. “Horse Harmony Five-Element Personality Test.” Horse Harmony, 2010, www.horseharmony.com/HorseHarmonyShortTest.pdf.