According to a court in CT, horses are "vicious" animals. Most horse owners know by now the farcical ruling by a mid-level Appellate Court testimony that stated horses are "a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious." To those of us who own horses, those who work around horses, those who train horses, this entire case is laughable at best. What is not a shock to us, is the study that has proven horses to be inherently lazy.
Recent studies (entitled "Are Horses Lazy?") indicate horses will actually go out of their way and work hard to avoid hard work. In one study, cited by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, put horses in the situation to choose being ridden once around a ring or twice. A Y-shaped maze was created leading to the arena. The horses were taught and conditioned to associate one side of the Y to indicate one trip around the ring, the other two trips. After the conditioning, horses were allowed, on their own and without a rider, to choose a side. Once out of the Y, a rider mounted and, depending on which side the horse chose, worked once around the arena or twice.
Over the course of the trial, many horses, after time, chose not to enter the maze at all. Others began to sidestep or back up when the rider moved to mount. The longer route also produced more signs of agitation in the horses, such as tail swishing. (But, none became vicious).
In another similar study, horses were given the choice to be ridden or exit altogether. Some horses trotted out the exit chute so fast, riders couldn't catch them.
Often during these tests, it was not clear whether the horses were avoiding work or simply avoiding the test process altogether. One thing is clear, however-- horses don't mind a bit of work, but all in all they just want to be a horse--hanging out with buddies and eating.