Patty Dineen

The view from here

Political buzzword of the season – temperament

I have been struck by how often (seems to me to be on the increase lately) the word “temperament” has been used in this roiling political climate.  I’ve heard it used in candidate endorsements and in critiques.  I’ve heard it on TV and radio and read it in opinion columns.  It feels to me like a vague code for something else, what I’m not quite sure.  I’m also not sure when temperament became elevated to a status almost equal to things like whether someone can be effective at getting anything done, let alone done well.

Has “temperament” taken the place of the old questions about who you’d rather have a beer with; or who you’d be comfortbale leaving your kids with?  Not that those were especially helpful yardsticks either, but apparently something has changed that calls for different tools of measurement.

But mainly when I hear the word “temperament” used in reference to the candidates it makes me think of horses.  Information about a horse’s temperament is important in deciding whether you are likely to be able to accomplish what you want to with a particular horse.  Not to mention whether you will be able to get along at all.  Is the horse social, sensitive to stimuli, fearful of new environments?  These and many other terms describe horse temperament.  But the simple hot-cold spectrum description of horse temperament is the most fun to read in the midst of this mind-numbing human horserace that we still seem to believe is an effective way to choose a new leader.

Enjoy this wonderful description of hot-cold (horse) temperament by Cindy Hale, published on the Doctor’s Foster and Smith website:

Hot or Cold: Which Temperament is Best for You?

Select the horse whose “thermostat” is set in your comfort zone.

By Cindy Hale

When purchasing a horse or choosing one to ride, we tend to be smitten by a horse’s appearance and abilities. Unfortunately, we often neglect to consider the horse’s basic temperament. If that doesn’t complement our own riding capabilities and comfort levels, riding may become a chore. Here’s how to decide which type of horse is best for you.

A hot horse is one that is keenly aware of his environment, making him a little spooky out on the trails or tense amongst a group of other horses. If you’re a rider looking for a leisurely ride, a hot horse is probably not for you. Ditto if you’re a novice rider. Since a hot horse is very responsive to his rider, if your heel accidentally bumps against his side, you’re likely to get a response. Hence, a hot horse quickly becomes frustrated with a rider who asks for one thing but actually wants something else. Conversely, an experienced rider who wants a ready-set-go type of performer yearns for a horse that’s alert and responsive. Barrel racers, jumpers and endurance horses all have a tendency to be on the hot side.

At the other extreme of the temperament spectrum is the cold horse. Sure, they’re a little lazy at times, but there’s something to be said for a horse that enjoys life at a slower pace. Colder horses are perfect for equestrians who view riding as a hobby. Novices enjoy colder horses because, since they’re less in a hurry to respond, they’re more forgiving of miscalculated cues. If a cold-blooded horse is frisky at a show, it’s easy to settle them down with a few minutes on the longe line or under saddle. They tend to reconsider whether it’s worth the effort to break a sweat. Moreover, if you’re nervous during competition, the cold horse is less likely to react to your emotions.

Riding should be a rewarding, pleasant experience. Choose the horse whose temperament thermostat is set just for you.

Great stuff, huh?  Cindy Hale would make a fabulous political commentator, but she probably has way more fun with horses.  There are still a few days left before the election.  The main choices are between Barack Obama and John McCain. From one undecided voter to all you others out there, I’m hoping this information will help you make that final choice.  But it probably depends on your temperament.

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Written by dineenp

October 28, 2008 at 2:56 pm

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