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What Makes Horses “Stubborn”?

It is a stunning spring day, your outdoor ring is freshly harrowed, and you are thrilled to be outside after a long Canadian winter of riding indoors (should you be so lucky). The day is warm, the trees have a bright haze of budding new growth…everything seems possible. Everything, that is, except getting your horse down to the far end of the ring without an outrageous display of shying, leaping sideways and assorted hysteria. Are horses who refuse to comply with certain requests being stubborn or “muleheaded”? If we are considering a personality trait along which horses can vary from highly compliant to stubborn, it is possible that horses may have individual differences on this personality dimension, although, to date, no equine researchers have identified such a trait. Even if researchers were able to discover that a horse might be non-compliant due to a perverse personality, it does not advance…

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