The stud I ride it is the complete opposite. Think its because the horses are only a small part of the enterprise and there isnt a lot of money to waste with them. The whole herd of horses are turned out in the same paddock, never stabled. If horses dont get on, they're expected to sort it out themselves. Sure, this does lead to a few bite and kick marks but generally they sort it out after a while. The horses live on the veld/grass, just get a bit of extra hay in winter but no grain, no blankets, no shoes.
And as a result, they're some of the strongest and toughest little horses out there (granted, they are an indigenous breed). But then, it also has its down sides as the horses lose condition in winter (dont worry, they dont look emaciated, they're just a bit skinny), sometimes they're expected to get through diseases/wounds on their own (and they do get over diseases that often kill other horses).
So I dont know, guess its a mixture out there. I think it also depends on type of horses people have. And I also think, from a riding point of view, people are 1) far more cautious now a days and 2) a lot of people now take the horse's experience/mind in consideration (perhaps in some cases, to an extreme) so 'breaking in a horse' has changed, how we train animals has changed etc.