I SO agree with you. Especially your last comment "I love to just see my horses running free with their other horsey buddies out on the field. Part of my joy is to see my horse run off to be with her buddies after a ride. There is just SO much joy in horses...if one has the eyes and heart to see it!"
I'm working at a bible camp this summer with Lacey and when I went in for my interview, the camp director (who knows me and knows that horses are my life) was laughing at my application becuase for the question that said "what helps you the most in your walk with God?" I said that Lacey does because she is the epitome of God's love in my life (ie, I have her, somehow, and I was sure I was going to be 40 before I had my first horse, and how she loves me unconditionally, even when I'm a jerk) and she shows me everyday how joyfully life is supposed to be lived.
He thought it was really strange that she has such an effect on my life. She's not just my pet though, she's my partner, my teammate, my best friend, and my freedom. I don't generally refer to her as my pet though because she really isn't a pet to me. She's so much more. To me, pet has a connotation of being lower, ownership, that sort of thing, but I really don't feel like I own her. I mean, I do own her technically, but I feel like we have a partnership more than a owner/pet relationship, if that makes any sense. Of course, it's something like a 60/40 (in my favor) partnership, but we both win.
I find that sad when horses don't understand our kind of love. But at the same time, who knows, maybe, hopefully, that man has another way to show his horses "love." Maybe it's not our way of love, petting, treats, all that, but maybe he does other things for them that he thinks of as thanking them. Maybe it's something like if we were speaking Japanese to our horses and he's speaking Spanish to his. We could be saying the same things, just in different ways, and to the other person we aren't "right" since they don't speak our language but to people who speak our language, we are "right." We can hope that's the case at least!
It's hard to see people not love their horses the way I feel love should be shown. For instance, my BO doesn't trim her horses hooves during the winter when they aren't being ridden, she doesn't pay much attention to them aside from when they are going to be ridden, and she's very goal oriented with them. I know she loves them all dearly and that that's just the way she shows love. I personally show love by keeping Lacey as conditioned as possible, just hanging out with her sometimes, taking care of every one of her needs, and being more relationship oriented with her, I'm also goal oriented but the relationship on the way to the goal is way more important to me than the goal. That's just how I show love. She thinks I'm silly for babying Lacey as much as I do, but Lacey does things to please me and she crumbles when I get mad. My BO's horses do things to see what they can get away with and could care less if their rider is POed. Of course, that probably has the most to do with the relationship aspect of our love styles.
I guess it basically boils down to the saying "different strokes for different folks."
Also, sorry for the super long post! You caught a talkative soul right before bed when she's the most talkative.