Horses work ethic - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 07:21 AM
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I hope nobody got paid to do that study.

I agree, given the choice, any horse with a horse brain, would rather languish in the pasture.

It's HOW they react to their job, once they're in-hand that constitutes good or bad work ethic.

The horse in my avatar is the strong alpha horse. He's been my bud 22+ years and to this day, won't let me catch him "right off". I have to circle him, like the Native Americans circled Wagon Trains in the old movies

Once I get him, he is all business and willingly does anything I ask. More than one horseman has commented on his tremendous heart and "work ethic".

It has also been my experience that poor work ethic sometimes (not always) means the horse is not happy in it's current job and needs to be doing something different.

I once bought a horse that was being sold because she had become very ring sour. The day I bought her, I took her down to the River Trails and she thought she'd found Nirvana She loved being out on those trails and never refused anything I asked of her.

Good work ethic is mental attitude, regardless of who's doing the talking, whinnying, or barking

Good post OP - great topic for conversation
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #12 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 12:38 PM
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Every animal on the face of the Earth is like this. In the wild you never know how long the good times will last, so we all have an instinct to conserve energy.

This is one of those "well, duh" studies that scientists often come out with.
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post #13 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 01:10 PM
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I have to agree with most everyone else, don't know what they thought they would learn here, but most horses are going to take the easy way out. It's not a good study to measure work ethic anyway. My last mare loved to go!! Although she didn't care to much for arena work, she'd gladly leave friends and all well behind for a nice long trail ride, she'd slow down coming back (opposite of most horses) because she wasn't ready to quit. She seemed to enjoy rides better when it was just us, no other horses.

I'm sure there aren't many horses that get a thrill out of running around in circles in an arena, but I agree with trying this with horses doing a job, that truely love that job!
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post #14 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
Horses, in general, don't really want to move/work unless they must. Not because they are lazy, it's a matter of conserving energy in the event that something happens and they really do need to boogie, they won't have just spent all their energy loping circles out on the prairie.
Got a number of wild horses in the hills east of here, and will often see some of them running around just for the sheer pleasure of it. That is, no obvious predators, only one or two running while the rest of the band grazes peacefully, etc.

Then too, you have to ask yourself what exactly is "work" to a horse? If I'm going to take mine out out for a trail ride, she (usually) acts as though she's interested: ears perk up, gets in the trailer willingly, when we're there & tacked up, she wants to take off at a trot, looks around her with apparent interest, etc. If she was a human, and you were trying to judge her mood from body language, you'd say she was enjoying herself.
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post #15 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 02:02 PM
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I don't know about work ethic, but I do think horses have different levels of impulsion and willingness. Just coming from my two yearlings, mine has low impulsion and high willingness. The other has high impulsion and low willingness. So they work differently. Mine will do what you ask - but only as much as you ask. The other will have the impulsion to go and go and go, but has more of an independent attitude - wants to do what she wants. The goal I suppose is to get a horse that has both impulsion and willingness, so that not only do they do what you say, but also go the extra mile when they do it. And of course, stay away from the horses who have no impulsion and no willingness, those do not enjoy work whatsoever.

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post #16 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 02:02 PM
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Hmmm... I think I'll come back to this once I think it out. It said that horses never really chose less or more work?
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post #17 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Got a number of wild horses in the hills east of here, and will often see some of them running around just for the sheer pleasure of it. That is, no obvious predators, only one or two running while the rest of the band grazes peacefully, etc.
That's true, horses do often run around while they are playing, but those times are relatively short lived before they settle down again. They don't run themselves to the point where they're tired just for grins and giggles.
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post #18 of 22 Old 06-08-2013, 08:57 PM
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I believe horses do have a work ethic to some degree. I've ridden several horses who will go for you all day long. They don't anticipate a quitting time and are just as happy to ride out for 4 hours as they are for 30 minutes. They do things with meaning, heart and lots of try. On the other hand I've ridden horses who get "tired", testy and cranky after an hour of work. They comply, but their attitude says it all.
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post #19 of 22 Old 06-09-2013, 02:11 AM
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Think of it in evolutionary terms. All else being equal, the horse that is more likely to survive an encounter with a predator is the one that can do the best job of running away. It's like the old story of two guys being chased by a bear. One says to the other "We can't possibly outrun the bear, so let's turn and fight." The other replies "But I don't have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than YOU!"

So which horse is going to be in better shape for running, the "pasture potato" who lazes around all day, or the one that regularly does some running?
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post #20 of 22 Old 06-09-2013, 02:41 AM
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I think this depends on the individual horse, and the individual RIDING the horse. Horses- my horses, anyway- love to be verbally praised. If I advance them slowly, so that if it seems as if what they're doing isn't hard, they love what they're doing. They love it even more if they're praised when doing something correctly. If I try to force something on them without waiting for them to be ready for it (physically and mentally), they get confused, frustrated, and eventually a bit angry. So I think that the training involved deserves some recognition.

Of course, every horse is different. They all have different personalities, and therefore different work ethics. For instance, my gelding LOVES to work, but you have to keep him interested. He lives in with the cattle at home, and chases them around for fun. He even "races" cars along the fence by the road. Mentally, he's like a friggin' ping pong ball in perpetual motion! He never stops! If he gets bored with what you're doing, he changes it up a bit. Thus, I always have to be one step ahead of him, making him think and keeping him guessing, otherwise he does whatever he wants to do. He's probably the type of horse who would be just fine with advancing more quickly, as he just loves trying to figure out what you want. He doesn't seem to be the type to get angry when he can't figure it out; he just keeps flipping through the cards until you tell him he's done the correct thing. I still take it slow though, as he's not physically ready for the majority of those tasks yet.
My mare is the exact opposite. She hates working, and is glad to be a robot-horse. She'll go in circles all day long, and let her mind wander. She's excellent to learn how to ride on, but she seems to like zoning out. When you ask her to pay attention and work, you get a bit of attitude. Get her out on a trail, however, and she's a different horse. She loves working then, as she's too busy looking at her surroundings to realize that she's been going at it for hours.
My other mare is young, and had more behavioral issues before I had someone train her to drive. I always got the impression that she was just bored, and wanted something to do. Groundwork only got me so far for so long. Teaching her to drive (because she's not old enough to back yet) has been a great idea, as she's really matured mentally. I've had this mare long enough to know that if she doesn't want to do something, you're going to have a heck of a time making her do it. But she truly enjoys driving, and hasn't put up any fight whatsoever so far. She's always relaxed and very willing to work.
Each individual horse is different. And they're different on different days. You can't tell me that some horses don't have their "off" days and "on" days!
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