Brena ~ The Minister is a honest, forthright confidant

In the last post, I attributed Brena with the profile of The Modest One – a horse type that is often overlooked because of their outward, good nature, but who has inner depths. Looking at her head profile, face on, and in three quarter, another personality emerges: The Minister.

The Minister is a horse that always wants to challenge and be challenged. He learns extraordinarily quickly and is only too ready to take on and master these new challenges….

The Minister is a wise horse and he seeks wisdom in human beings, and ultimately, the Minister can only accept a fine, high-ranking person of strong character.

The longer, slender shape of her head becomes more evident and the hallmark of this type is the sloping nose (noticeable in the above photo). Other attributes such as a smaller mouth and eye, with the slight dip in the otherwise straight profile, indicate the presence of The Minister.

As mentioned in the previous post, Brena’s back is slightly long and the hindquarters with a bit of weakness. These body traits are also found in The Minister. It means care needs to be taken in the training to prevent injury as work is increased.

The angle and length of the neck into the shoulder may also denote she could be stiff in sideways flexion. Care should be taken that this doesn’t become resistance: circles and figure 8’s should be large arcs and sharp turns avoided.

In many, if not all, of Brena’s photos her long forelock covers her eyes and we see them as if through a veil. Naturally, this could be completely aside from her physical and mental abilities – just a beautiful, thick forelock. However, it’s interesting that both the Modest One and the Minister are personalities that retreat within and often hide their true selves from undiscerning folk. Sometimes form does follow function.

A childs’ genuine down-to-earth atttitude and agility make it surprisingly easy for him to approach this horse. The Minister loves children because they are so much more like him then adults.  

The playful honesty and enjoyment of the world by children is what the Minister is all about. I would suspect that Brena has a little mischief in her that probably comes out by “playing dumb” – for those who just see the surface attributes she is the solid, grounded, rather placid horse they expect; for the person, willing to look deeper and approach with an open freshness, you might discover she has a quiet sense of mature humor that would never be mean spirited.

If the Minister feels that he can encounter a person on the same plane  then he will be the first to tear down every barrier between human and horse. Overall, he is the most open type of all horses but he is also the one who can quickly hide himself, or even entrench himself behind a wall of feigned ignorance; he will pretend not to understand.

This is a horse you turn too for advice and who always gives wise counsel.  However, he is also a horse that if you are not equal to him, will retreat (“talk to the hand”) and ignore you. Treated unfairly or not given the mental stimulus he needs, may become extremely and surprisingly aggressive.


Putting it all together, Brena is a great, solid companion and true friend. Her Modest personality dominates while The Minister personality promises a bit more quirkiness.

She has strength and stamina, as well as a healthy form that will lead to few longterm problems as long as she is worked with awareness of her hindquarters and back. I would add some stretching exercises for her neck, shoulder and front forelegs. The back legs need consistent and progressive strengthening through hill work (which Julian already does). Providing her half halts or transition changes (i.e. walk-trot-walk, trot from halt, canter to trot etc…) to re-balance weight on her hindquarters periodically on the ride would also be helpful.

I also think that her Minister personality could use some occasional challenges – not too much to overface the Modest part, but enough that she doesn’t grow bored or complacent. She is more clever then she initially appears so don’t let that Modest face fool you into letting her get away with less.

I think this is a horse that the more you delve into yourself, will provide even more back. She has hidden depths, as indicated by both her Modest and Minister aspects, and often conceals her inner nature. She needs to be approached with the openness and joy of a child and encouraged to express herself.

Disclaimer: I am interpreting from the book What Horses Reveal. I don’t know if I’ve hit the type right on the head as I’m experimenting with this. Hempfling can look at a horse and say this horse is Blah-Blah. I have to rely more heavily on intuition and what I know about the horse so please excuse my errors.

Hempfling’s Video Montage of Horse Personalities ~ The Minister 2:35

Important Disclaimer!! Use of quoted material from Klaus Hempflings’ book What Horses Reveal is based upon fair copyright use. The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations…

I am not a KFH student and my comments etc… upon the work is to be taken as my sole responsibility. For further clarification you need to seek out Hempfling himself through his website, books, videos or clinics.

This entry was posted in Klaus Hempfling KFH. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Brena ~ The Minister is a honest, forthright confidant

  1. Thank you, Becky, for a perceptive and revealing analysis. It makes sense to me that Brena is a mixture of two types since she is a cross-breed. I understand that a warmblood stallion escaped into the draught mares’ enclosure: two different types and purposes of horse mixed.

    Brena does have the depth that you describe in the Modest One. On reflection she came to me straight out of hard work, then had a long winter doing hardly anything. I can see that she might have felt abandoned by people. Then she could not express how she felt until an explosion was the only way. That sudden show of aggression seems common to both Modest One and Minister.

    I can also see that Minister personality. She is quick to learn, does seek to challenge me, and does well when challenged herself. She seems to like simplicity and honesty in how she is managed, likes to be talked to and appreciates attention. If one appraches her innocently and scratches her forehead (which she loves) then she will open up and express her pleasure. On rides she will stop sometimes and angle her head asking for an ear to be stroked, then sets off again when she has received that attention.

    Brena was well looked after by her previous owners. She arrived fit, not carrying any extra weight, but not thin either. Her owners did try and keep clients from using excessive contact (an English problem), though one can only see so much of what goes on in a string let alone cut out inconsiderate riding. I can see that Brena would have begun to switch off having carried so many people. Then she came to me, had a few months with little to do, and began to assert her personality. I should have expected surprises.

    I found out quickly that Brena gets bored riding around the four hundred acre farm. She soon began to mess around on those rides, behaving unusually energetically, pretending to be afraid of things she’d seen many times before, and ignoring aids. But, taken out to ride in the countryside, she was calm and sensible. She was telling me that she needs variety.

    Now we are finding things that we both enjoy doing out on rides. Presumably that is a part of approaching her like a child and more at her level. I am getting better at reading Brena’s mood and motivation. I feel better balanced riding her. In a way I am doing some of the riding that I might have done as a child had I been around horses then.

    Now that I have begun to work in harmony with Brena, her power no longer alarms me. Earlier on, when canter transitions tended to lead to bucking, a part of me was afraid of her. That fear has gone, replaced by intuition and empathy.

    So, as you can see, your analysis makes a lot of sense to me and helps me to understand this fascinating and unusual mare.

    • horseideology says:

      Julian no insult at all intended to Brena’s former owners. For some reason I thought she had lost weight during the shipping process.

      You and I both know from experience that when you run a horse business, the horses lack individual attention. I was up to 8 horses at one time and I was lucky if they got fly spray every day let alone brushed and worked.

      Some not as intelligent horses actually work at better as rental or lesson mounts as long as they are the happy go lucky types. Mix in intelligence and a horse starts to feel the injustice of being jerked about by the uneducated or uncaring rider.

    • horseideology says:

      Anyway Julian I’m glad that it gave you some insight. I am new to this idea of how to use my intution and Hemfplings’ book and the archetypes we had discussed to come to a composite idea of a horse. And while it’s all well and good to talk about personalities, how does that really come down to how a horse actually behaves and is trained is always what I’ve puzzled over.

      I see how Brena tried to trick you into believing that she was really spooky about stuff… I’ve seen that done by horses who definitely either people see as “testing” or “have a sense of humor.” I guess it depends on how funny you think that behavior is while you are on the ground looking up at the sky heehee

      What did you think of the physical charaterizations on how to ride her? I am just going purely by photos and not video which makes it harder. I am wondering how accurate I was on that?

  2. Fetlock says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching Hempfling’s “characterizations” but many of them seem to kind of contradict themselves and/or overlap (some of it I think is a problem with translation and/or someone who’s an ESL speaker who wrote the characterizations).

    I’ve been very interested in the research about body type and how that influences behavior (thinner, finer-boned animals of any species are said to generally be more flighty or nervous). I have a friend who has been looking for a “kid friendly” cat to bring into their household, and I realized that most (though not all) of the really mellow cats I’ve known have been enormous large-pawed and long-haired types.

    Brena is a beautiful mare, and I like Hempfling’s observation that once this type can tear down all the barriers between human and horse once that trust is established.

    • horseideology says:

      I’ve found this book to be his hardest to understand. Only recently has it started to make some sort of sense to me and hence the posts.

      I think one reason this book is very hard to digest is it comes from a European viewpoint. Most of the horses that KFH might say is not for the high level of dressage would mostly likely suit 80 percent or more of the man-on-the-street riders in the U.S.

      With the amount of land we have here, horses are far more common and available to the average person. And the average rider, who rides is the Weekend Warrior doesn’t need a Unicorn or a Pegasus! LOL!

      Another issue is that KFH works with a LOT of stallions. For some bizarre reason, young girls bring their stallions to his clinics and then cry the entire time about how hard it is to manage the horse. Don’t get a friging STALLION you dope!

      When I talked to the Master Saddler here who deals with a lot of DQs he said I should buy a stallion that was high priced but price has dropped due to behavior, then drive the trailer to the vet, get it snipped and go home to enjoy.

      We geld horses for a reason and while Doru is a nice well behaved stallion, there are a lot of issues with keeping stallions. The first being is that they are often kept in small pens with little exercise or social interaction. No wonder they become problems!

      Yes, we had a kitty that had a head like a softball – was the cat who lasted the longest in terms of years. And I love BIGPAWED kitties! But I am definitely a cat person.

    • horseideology says:

      You also might want to check out Linda Tellington Jones book

      I believe this is the one she discusses horse heads, ears, profiles, mouth etc.. and what in her experience that tells. People view it as controversial so I don’t believe she ever wrote too much about it, other then a few side mentions, after this book.

  3. Having a group of horses to look after did rather just make them numbers. Valued numbers, yes, but team members still. (Is that how it feels to a man with several wives?) I knew them, but in general terms, such as what sort of person would get on with them for a week.

    I do like stallions. But I’ve worked with draught stallions. I led an Arabian stallion once and he stood up for some reason. Well I held on to the rope and practically left the ground for a second or two. Draught stallions tend to be really manageable what-you-see-is-what-you-get horses, straightforward if requiring assertiveness to handle them. I remember a neighbour’s 14yo daughter harnessing a pair of stallions to drive to market. Well, she was a fiesty young lady. It’s like working with Doru. Once in a while one has to tell him “no you f***ing well won’t do that”. And he listens. Like the time I was on the phone and someone rode a mare in season in front of him. I’m not sure what the person on the other end of the phone made of it all! “F***ing stand still and get your d*** back in” said loudly is a bit memorable.

    I’ll see what Linda has to say. I first “met” her years ago whenj I found a copy of one of her books in a secondhand shop – it was autographed by her. I guess that meant nothing to the shopkeeper.

    I went to the field this evening and Brena came cantering down the field to meet me. After eating she just walked off to graze. She likes human company, knows that I will care for her, and is her own horse for all of that. That seems like a good combination.

  4. Pingback: Guides along the Way « Horse Ideology

  5. Pingback: Guides along the Way | horseideology

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