I read the title of this thread and quite honestly passed it up a few times. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and had to read it :)
Not sure what to think of the 10-20 hr. work week considers a horse a working horse.
In our situation we might have 5-10 horses in each of our string. They are put into rotation so whatever the day brings that is what they are expected to do. It might be from dawn to dark gathering and trailing cows or maybe 1 hour of gathering into the corrals and making a quick sort to ship. Basically a horse gets ridden once a week, whenever it is his turn in the rotation. But they are working horses that have to earn their living otherwise they get sent down the road. This is the life of a company horse.
They may be ridden quite hard in the spring and fall. Winters are good, shoes pulled, wormed and fed alfalfa on the meadows. They must be kept in shape otherwise t makes it hard to do the work needed to be done. Some of my ranch horses I "love" and I prefer some over others. But I treat them all as individuals and ride them accordingly.
My personal horses which I also use on the ranch and in exchange they are fed and cared for on the ranches bill. There is a reason why they are personal horses. They are horses that I see potential in and have feelings for. Not going to lie, but I love my Stilts horse :) I have a couple of up and coming colts that I hope are going to be just as nice and even an older ranch horse that I own that is wolfy and never will be a "pet-like-horse" but I have a soft spot for him.(have to rope him to catch him and will buck you off if put in a bind)
Even though they work for a living I consider them pets in a loving way, but in a legal or tax definition they are livestock.
I DON'T LEAD 'EM AND FEED 'EM, I RIDE 'EM AND SLIDE 'EM.