Why horses are NOT dogs - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Why horses are NOT dogs

IMHo, it is past time to remind new, fairly new, and re-acquainted horse owners why horses are not dog-like and why they shouldn't be treated as such.

I've had horses 57 of my 69 years, non-stop. I treat them with love, kindness and a sense of fair play. I communicate with them - each according to how they want to "talk".

I have rescued and re-trained my share of dogs. Took my Rottweilers to obedience. Figured out some of those dog training principles can apply to horses, when appropriately modified.

In all those years, I have never thought my horses could be dogs or could "endear" themselves to me in the loyalist manner dogs are capable of.

This light-hearted article on a serious subject was written by a DVM. It is worth every new horse owner's time to read.

If you think you don't have time to read in its entirety, cursor down to the listed similarities and differences between dogs and horses.

Horses Aren't Dogs - David W. Ramey, DVM

I am probably preaching to the choir - the folks who need to read this and absorb it, won't:)

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 #2 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 06:01 PM
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Unfortunately, the horses are not dogs concept really seems to confuse some Mini owners. We have 2 and even I'll admit that they are too much fun for their own good and that ours are spoiled, but at least they do have good manners and know the boundary of acceptable behavior does not move.
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post #3 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 07:08 PM
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Unfortunately some EXCELLENT points I feel would be lost to the sort of person who needs to read it because you don't know what you don't know. Dogs are predators. Horses are prey. As horse people we respect what a MASSIVE difference that is, a dog person might say "so?" And the humor hides a few good points too!

I do love the article though, thanks for sharing.

As far as a recent post "how to make my horse into a dog". Easy, sell horse, buy dog! The problem is that you would want to do that in the first place.
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post #4 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 07:22 PM
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I love the author- this is completely O/T but also from the site
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post #5 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 07:30 PM
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That was funny. I think this is it, in a nutshell:
Dogs want to please. Horses want to get back to their stalls and eat.
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post #6 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 07:49 PM
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I am a novice and a brand new horse owner. I swung the other way - I assumed that my horse will not show any "bonding" behavior for years, if at all.

So what happened is this: I moved my horse to a new barn after about a month of owning her. On the second day there I let her out into a makeshift paddock to graze. Since I knew she will take about a week or two to relax, I stood in front of the flimsy gate to stop her from busting it and heading for the barn. She kept walking up to me and I kept walking her back out and returning to my watch post. Eventually, after the BO had a good laugh at my expense, she told me that my mare is walking up to ME, not the gate. I went and stood next to her and she started munching happily.

Later on she pinned her ears at me when I went into her stall :/ oh, well...
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post #7 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 08:52 PM
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The way I look at it is, horses are livestock. They live outside, they prefer members of their own species, they can become quite fond of you and vice versa, but they are livestock, fundamentally.

Dogs are dogs, they are their own separate category. No other animal has the kind of relationship to us that dogs do. Other house animals, whether predators like cats or ferrets, or prey like guinea pigs and hamsters, are in yet another category -- they lack the tens of thousands of years of commensal evolution with us, like dogs do. Dogs are the only animal that is a true commensal with human beings, they literally became dogs to be with us, their choice (I'm romanticizing this but it is essentially true; we did not make dogs out of wolves, they made themselves).

If you think a livestock animal so little removed from its original nature that it can effortlessly transition into life without us at all, is going to be the same as a dog, you just aren't thinking straight.

Short horse lover
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post #8 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 09:16 PM
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Sadly, the problem doesn't always stop with people wanting horses to be like dogs. Some want horses to be like small dogs.

For example, my cat is spoiled rotten. He'll stand up and paw on my leg when he wants attention. He'll jump in my lap if I'm eating cheese. He steals my pillow at night. There's a simple reason he gets away with all that: he's 8 pounds. He's 13 years old, and he'll never be any more than 8 pounds of fluff. 8 pounds of fluffy spoiled cat is cute.

I expect my dog to have manners. She's 30 pounds. Not that big, but big enough to behave herself. She's been to obedience classes, and earned her Canine Good Citizen. She does not jump on people (often), and she never jumps on furniture. We don't let her beg for food from the table. You know what? She's a happier dog for those manners. When we go out of town, she usually comes with us. Why? Because she has manners and other people like having her in their house. A 30 pound mutt with manners is cute.

A 1000 pound horse with worse manners than my dog is not cute. The bigger an animal is, the more manners it needs. Come to think of it, that rule applies to kids, too.
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post #9 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 09:45 PM
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Ironically enough, I had a conversation with my b/f about this subject just yesterday. I tend to spend a bit less time with one of my horses. He is essentially a pasture ornament, so I bathe and brush him and do a bit of groundwork. But that is all. My b/f made some comment about how he thinks Chevy feels left out when I work with my other horses more. I told him, horses are not dogs. Chevy couldn't give two $h**s if I worked with him more. In fact, I think he'd get PO'd if I worked with him more. He is perfectly happy staying in the field eating grass and hanging out with the other horse. I believe my words were "he isn't a dog. He doesn't crave human attention like dogs do. He isn't neglected. He is happy being a horse".

It's a common mistake that a lot of non-horse as well as horse people make. I blame it on TV & movies for this misconception.
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post #10 of 60 Old 06-09-2016, 10:34 PM
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I wish I could take credit for this but I read it on another board and I think it perfectly explains. I'll quickly paraphrase.

Household pets like dogs and cats are now thought of as children, subsequently animals like horses that were originally considered livestock (which I still do) moved to the pet category and for some the child category therefor this need for a dog like bond unfortunately.

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