What does "honesty" mean when used in reference to a horse? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 07:09 AM
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I do not think you are right BSMS, I agree that a rider should always look to themselves first when a direction os given and not obeyed but, just as there are dishonest people there are also dishonest horses.

One person I worked for bought herself a new hunter. When it was unloaded from the trailer she asked me what I thought. I didn't like the horse and when pressed I told her so. She asked why and I just said that he wasn't an honest horse and probably napppy (barn sour)
When told hos name was Whippy I thought it was probably appropriate in that he probably whipped around.

I was right, he was a dirty horse, he dropped everyone who got on him except me and I was prepared for the beggar. When he couldn't dislodge me by spinning around, dropping his shoulder leaping sideways at a canter or bucking he took to rearing. That didn't work either though a couple of times I did bail out as I knew he was going over backwards which he had no fear of doing.

This horse even napped following hounds which is very unusual. There was nothing wrong with him physically - I worked with him and to some extent had him more compliant but as soon as someone else got on him he would drop them as soon as he could, often before gone had even left the stables.

He was what he was and was sent to the sales.
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post #22 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
To me an honest horse is one who always lets you know where you stand. They don’t ride with you for thirty minutes acting like everything is hunky-dory and then suddenly blow their wig.

An honest horse will clue you in when they aren’t much liking what you are doing, the way you are riding or whatever; think slow release steam valve.

A dishonest horse holds it all in until BLAM! Taking you totally by surprise and picking leaves out of your hair as you watch old paint gallop off into the sunset!

By that definition honest and push-button are unrelated.
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post #23 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 09:27 AM
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I have never considered applying the term honest or dishonest to any horse.

I'm perplexed at the entire concept of a horse being honest or dishonest, based on any definition or synonym that I've read.

But I'm working on it...........

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post #24 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
I have never considered applying the term honest or dishonest to any horse.

I'm perplexed at the entire concept of a horse being honest or dishonest, based on any definition or synonym that I've read.

But I'm working on it...........
I can't speak to the rest of the world but when I was growing up in the 50's - 60's, my grandfather often used the terms "honest" or "that is not an honest horse", when we would go to horse auctions. The term "honest" had to do with the horse's heart condition/mind set back then.

I imagine it's a term that is common in some places and unheard of in others.

Duke, in my avatar, was one of the most honest horses I have known. He was a strong alpha horse, a full of go horse. He told people what he thought, if they took the time to hear him. He never made a mistake.

I once contacted his breeder who told me Duke was one of his few foals that was born having a boat load of horse sense - he intuitively knew the right things to do at the right moment. Duke was an honest horse.

He was 27 when I laid him to rest, November 2, 2014 -- that date is fast closing in, which is probably why he is on my mind so much.

Englarge this picture and look at that face. It is the face of an honest horse that talked because I listened.
Duke, Judy, 2011.jpg
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post #25 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 11:10 AM
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An honest horse is one that does not cheat you, bUt most times, it is the human that has taught the horse to cheat
Horses don't have a moral judgment, capable of deliberate cheating, like a human on his taxes, or on a spouse, but rather has just found cheating the easy thing to do, having been accidently rewarded for it. It is usually the smarter horses that learn to cheat
Best example is the horse that becomes show smart. This is not the version where actual physical distress, cases the horse to act up, but where the rider has taught him different rules apply in the show ring, versus outside of it
It starts, most times, by the rider letting little things slip, inside the showring that he would not outside of it, as he is riding to place, and those little flubs are not enough to keep him from placing,in the competition he is in
Soon, if the rider continues to never school that hrose in a showring situation, that horse will cheat him. He rides perfectly fine, everywhere, except in an actual show setting. These horses know, when they are sitting in a hitching ring, bathed clipped, with show tack and a number, among similar outfitted horses, and when there are at least two people in that showring, it is for 'real'
Many horses learn to ride according to the level of the rider, but the 'honest ones, won;t take advantage of that rider, to the point they ignore the cues that rider is giving correctly, running off to the gate,ect
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post #26 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 11:22 AM
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Some of the best bucking horses, were former saddle horses, that found they enjoyed bucking, and did so, in a 'dis honest way.
Unlike a green colt , that will buck, esp if not enough basics are put on him first, those former saddle horses would go along working great, but wait, for the moment that rider was off guard, distracted at some task, and suddenly take advantage and buck that rider off
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post #27 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
I do not think you are right BSMS, I agree that a rider should always look to themselves first when a direction os given and not obeyed but, just as there are dishonest people there are also dishonest horses...
Using @Reiningcatsanddogs definition ("An honest horse will clue you in when they aren’t much liking what you are doing...A dishonest horse holds it all in until BLAM!"), which makes sense to me although I've heard people use "honest horse" to mean "obedient horse, does not resist", then many horses are dishonest. Bandit was dishonest when he arrived.

My point was that we often teach horses to be dishonest without meaning to, while being dishonest ourselves. I have no trouble with telling a horse, "This is no time to argue! Just do it!" That can be very important at times. And when it is time to leave the arena and head out, I often point out to him that I'm not asking. He's happy enough once we are out, but the first few minutes of riding on pavement through a neighborhood, when there is grass growing a few hundred yards behind, doesn't thrill him.

But if you want honesty, as defined by Reiningcatsanddogs, then you must be willing to listen and willing to change things based on what your horse says. If he says his saddle hurts and you do nothing, he is likely to stop telling you at least until the pain is too much. Then he'll yell, suddenly, and we say he's been dishonest.

"When told his name was Whippy I thought it was probably appropriate in that he probably whipped around....He was what he was and was sent to the sales."

I was re-reading Littauer's Common Sense Horsemanship last night because I wanted to compare what he taught to something I wanted to try. While doing so, I read his account of taking a horse in for retraining. He had an argument with the owner, claimed he could retrain the horse, and ended up buying the horse so he could try. After 6 months and a lot of work, he got the horse to the level of a green horse on its first ride. Much later, he got the horse so it would USUALLY do OK, but would revert to old habits in a heartbeat with a different rider or different environment. He concluded that it was vastly easier to start right with a horse than try to train out bad habits firmly learned. He sold the horse.

Bandit arrived liking and mostly trusting people. He just didn't know he could ask me instead of demand! Interestingly, the only rider he has bucked very hard with is a friend who is about the same size as his original owner - who rode it out, but was caught by surprise. Bandit was caught by surprise too, when I gave him real choices. But once he realized I would listen, he started talking a lot. And I feel much safer on an honest horse who talks to me.

Cowboy was a bitter ex-lesson horse. But he had at least 6 previous owners, and the lady who gave him to me mentioned two in particular - a young boy on a ranch who outgrew him, and an old lady on a ranch who rode him at the end of her life. And we've noticed Cowboy adores young boys and older women. He treats them as if they are made of gold. He accepts me as a rider, but he seems to have fun with my wife.

There may also be horses who are dishonest because that is who they are, just as some people seem to be naturally mean. I have no idea. I haven't ridden many horses. But I have seen what my youngest daughter claims: Lots of horses don't talk because lots of people don't listen. I've also noticed that I can lie to my horse sometimes, but he/she will eventually read me like a book written in large crayons using very small words. After a while, they seem to know if I'm asking or demanding - and I do both, depending on the situation. I don't own unicorns and they don't always want to do what I want them to do, even if I know what is best.

But if I mentally add a "Please" or "thank you" on the end, they seem to feel it. If I mentally add, "Blast it, NOW!", they seem to feel it too. I think if the horse is not too far gone, we can teach them to be honest with us. And if we confuse honesty with obedience, then we can teach them dishonesty which we then blame on the horse.

All IMHO. But I've only got 8 years of experience with a handful of horses, so everyone is welcome to ignore MHO.
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post #28 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 12:41 PM
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For me, an honest horse is one that is not trying to evade work, evade the aids, and doesn’t look for ways to get out of doing what the rider or driver is asking them to do. They’re also not looking for ways to take advantage of the humans who handle, ride, or drive them. They’re not treating humans like the enemy, but a partner. They see the job, they do it with energy and when it’s asked, assuming they know what’s being asked.

I’ve seen honest horses who were just not trained well – a spotted draft gelding owned by an acquaintance was “honest”, even if he had not had a lot of training. Everything he did was not out of malice, but because he’d just never been taught any better- like a big kid who’d just never been taught proper manners, but wasn’t unkind or mean. Once he had proper training on him, he was a dream. They started using him for therapeutic riding for disabled children and taught beginner lessons on him. He was just a naturally kind horse who didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

I think some of the “dishonest” horses often wind up being the most intelligent. They get bored, frustrated, and they start to act out. They don’t receive proper training or handling, and they turn figuring what they can get out of into a sort of entertainment.
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post #29 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 02:53 PM
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Back to the quote about not blaming the horse, I always want to know "why?"
Why does the horse not want to work? What made him that way? It is very very difficult to change a horse's mind if they have years of work behind them that has seemed unpleasant to them.
But I think there are a hundred possible reasons why a horse would not want to work, and even just being unfit so it hurts can be one of them. Lots of couch potatoes would whine if you whipped them away from the TV set and their snacks.

I think playing tricks is natural for horses, and some discover it is loads of fun to pull them on people. One horse I knew had a great way of dropping a shoulder as he turned to the side, and he'd place any unsteady rider right on the ground in front of his nose. As Smilie said, he did it once by accident and then thought it was funny so kept it in mind. Some horses turn into frat boys and want to play tricks all the time. If we can't figure out how to be smarter than a tricky horse, then I think that's not the horse's problem, it's ours.

So I would call a horse honest that communicates openly and well. But do all your good friends have open, puppy dog temperaments or are some a little more difficult to read or temperamental? Doesn't make them dishonest.

I wouldn't call a horse dishonest if they try to get out of work or play tricks. I'd call the horse a challenge instead. I agree with @Mulefeather that for some horses, life is like a chess game. They pull one over on me and I say, "Good one, now it's my turn." It's up to the rider to make the horse's work challenging enough that they don't have enough energy for games.
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post #30 of 35 Old 10-18-2016, 07:14 PM
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When I was in my teens we bought a green broke 3 yr old mare for my 13 yr old sister to learn to ride on, it was a very fortunate purchase as this mare was born honest, dependable and reliable. She never did anything bad even so young. After a few years you could put anyone on her, someone who had never been on a horse and take them out for a ride,( we didn't have proper schooling areas back then) and she would take care of them and never put a foot wrong. I could control her just using my voice to tell her what to do. Horses like that are rare and worth their weight in gold. I would tell people who were riding her that if she hesitated or didn't want to do something pay attention as she was almost always right.

Another horse I bought had some bad habits, he was part draft and a big fellow and was fine riding in an arena but take him out for a ride and you could be trotting along then suddenly he would leap in the air, 180 degree mid-air turn and warp speed for home. This was probably why the price was so low. I put a pelham bit on him and when he pulled this stunt I would bring him right up and turn around and burn his butt back up the trail. It only took a couple of times for him to get over this habit. In his thinking this little trick had probably worked well for him with previous riders so why not with this one. After we got that sorted out he was a decent, honest horse and a great riding companion, very trustworthy.

In my opinion an honest horse is one that does not intentionally do something devious or tricky to unseat or get rid of you, and have a willing attitude.
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