...life's never dull when you have a horse...
That is for sure.
I've been thinking about a discussion on another thread about mustangs, and it brought me to thinking about horse breeds and how I feel about their suitability or desirability for certain people.
It is true, I've met people who say Arabs or TBs are crazy, or have a bias that every Mustang is going to be wild and aggressive. But even though I have worked with all three breeds and enjoy their traits, that doesn't mean I think they are suitable for everyone.
In fact, I believe the majority of horses in all three breeds have few individuals that are suitable for most people; most will only do well with the right specific owner. I think it's very important to explain to people why they may not want a certain breed(s) of horse.
If a person truly loves a breed or type of horse such as Arab, Mustang or TB, they can find a horse to match what they need, but they will need to be extremely selective and go into a search with a lot of information about general traits to look for or avoid.
In my mind, it is similar to some dog breeds. I used to have a Dalmatian, and he was the sweetest, most loyal, wonderful dog. Dalmatians were overbred after the Disney movie, 101 Dalmatians
came out, and many people wanted one. Many Dals ended up in animals shelters, because they are a breed very unsuitable for the average owner. Someone bought my dog and then abandoned him back at the breeder's doorstep. She gave him to me for free since he was paid for.
As with horses, people have to think about what a dog was bred to do. Dalmatians were bred to run up to 40 miles a day alongside horse drawn vehicles, and to guard the vehicles. My dog was only wonderful because we ran together 6 days a week, and the 7th day I took him for a walk. Until age 8 or 9, he exuded pure energy. When my dog was young, I was a teen, and if something came up in my life where my dog didn't get enough exercise for a day or two, he would go destroy something. In my family everyone knew that was my fault, not the dog's, and would blame me and then I would make sure to get the dog enough exercise.
There are other dog breeds like this.
Modern breeding means that there are some Arabs that can handle a less energetic lifestyle. Most still hark back to where they came from. If I understand it right, those who bred Arabian horses for most of their history were not the most calm and peaceful people, and were not breeding horses to walk along quiet trails. They wanted horses that could carry full grown men over very harsh country and sand. After riding for many miles, they had to be able to still excite the horses enough to gallop into enemy territory for an attack. This explains the Arabian horse - tough, with exceptional endurance, and easily excitable.
Arabians also bond more easily to people than many breeds, and are sensitive to training. They can handle things that would break down other horses, and do well with heat and hard exercise. I love Arabs, but people should know that many will stay spooky and excitable throughout life. They also can be so sensitive and reactive that harsh handling will turn them into nervous wrecks.
This does not mean they are crazy, but they are exhibiting traits they were bred for. It does mean they are not suitable for people who do not have the ability to stay calm, or who will be upset if a horse spooks and gets excited.
There are a few Arabs and TBs out there who are unflappable, calm, beginner safe horses. I have met some of these, worked with and ridden them. These horses are gems and it means that not only were they trained properly, but also they have a temperament that is different from most representatives of their breed. I don't believe anyone should mislead people by saying any Arab or TB can be this way with the right training.
The two horses leading this group are both OTTBs. Both were suitable for beginner riders. They had been chosen by a trainer for the owners. They were still a little challenging for their owners because of size and stride length, but definitely had the mellowest temperaments I've experienced from TBs.
Hero is not one of the hottest horses or TBs I've been around, meaning he has days where he is calm, does the work and doesn't spook or get excited. Even so, he does have days or times where he gets excited, and then he becomes a horse that would be difficult or dangerous for many people to either ride or handle. This is common for many TBs. They were bred to do hard athletic work such as racing and jumping. If calm, unflappable temperaments were bred into TBs, it would be hard to motivate them to gallop as fast as they can. People should know that excitability is a very common trait in the breed, and when you combine that with an often large and athletic horse, it can be a lot to handle.
TBs and Arabs are somewhat similar, in my experience. In general, Arabs tend to think less and react more when excited. TBs can be spooky, but Arabs tend to spook even more. TBs adapt more quickly to changes in the environment, in general. TBs are athletic but Arabs in general tend to be tougher and stay more sound even with the hardest work. Both breeds tend to tune out the rider or handler when overly excited.
Mustangs in my opinion are the smartest of the three types of horses. They are so dang smart that they are too smart for most people. Take a horse that understands life is difficult, and survival depends on his own ability to find resources and stay out of trouble. Then bring him in to a domestic situation and he's still going to be constantly weighing whether things are in his best interest or not. It's not going to be a good idea to make this horse do things.
My friend's mustang Major had an owner (briefly) who couldn't get him to hold up his feet so she hobbled him and laid him down. She got shoes on one time, but created a horse that wasn't going to let you touch his legs at all, and if you got close he'd cow kick you. Major was super smart, but ropes were not going to work now to build trust (thanks, lady) and I did get kicked a couple times showing him I could hold his foot for one second, then let him go, then two seconds, then let him go, etc. But after one session he was like, "Oh, you guys are cool," and after that we could trim him and put boots on him, no problem.
Major is beautiful, grulla, almost 16 hands.
When I rode him the first time for my friend, I asked him to canter, he bucked, I spanked his butt. I asked him to canter again, he lifted a hind leg, I spanked his butt. Then he cantered nicely for me after that. That's the kind of thing I've seen over and over with Mustangs, especially the ones that seem to have draft and spanish blood. Sort of like, "Show me why I need to." But then they trust a person who is strong with them, and will be very good.
They tend to not be spooky at all, but I've never been able to get one to work very hard. They're not going to go out and trot for ten miles a day.
Diesel was good as gold and would take full advantage of his inexperienced owner. He just could not stop Diesel from putting his head down to eat, although more assertive riders would tell him not to and he wouldn't.
This next guy was a herd sire until age 7 or so. His owner wanted to bond with him and not have anyone else train him, but was not experienced with training. I think after two years she had a saddle on him, but he was not a difficult guy. He was very timid, but wanted to please. Her issue was being too timid herself. He easily learned the things he needed to know to be in a barn, such as leading nicely, turning in and out, getting groomed. Once I brought him in and he had ice balls on his hooves, so I picked up his hooves and got them out. That seemed to startle him, but he was fine, but the barn owner told me his owner had been sedating him to handle hooves. He is a bay roan but has many scars from his wild stallion days.
This last mustang is in the category with some I've known that would be suitable for anyone. Layla was a mustang, but notice she is genetically mostly just a QH. Those mustangs are ones I'd recommend people getting if they want to say they adopted one but want the characteristics most people want in a general using horse. I saw one that looked like a palomino QH and the trainer took him off the range and was riding him on the beach three days later. He couldn't do that with any of the other mustangs, nor the Arab he was supposedly training but gave up on eventually.
I'm behind Layla riding a gray Arab.
Banner is 15 hands but the black guy is a Percheron so the others look tiny. Layla was sweet but a little boring for me.