Where does the term ' field ornament' come from?

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Oxford definition is.

'A thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose, especially a small object such as a figurine'

I think of something made of wood, glass or china, that collects dust, doesn't do anything and fills a space.

I don't see a horse as any of the above, they are not a thing and they are not something you would buy to make the field look pretty.

A non ridden horse isn't an ornament. It's likely a companion for another horse and a companion for the owner.
To me this is still a pet, maybe a pasture pet.

So question in the title, why do we use this term?

As an aside I came across this article. It concluded after 131 horses that subjective observation by vets could only agreed 51% of the time! So this is going to rely on owners having access to objective machines?
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2746/042516409X479568
 
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Trewsers

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Yes field ornament - hmm. Not sure when I first heard the term, though I have used it!!! I couldn't open that link, maybe my ipad tho.
 

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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Thanks for sharing the article @newforest and how interesting the findings, basically proving that even vets are not always right.
As for field ornament, I disagree, I think horses in a field most definitely make said field look prettier.
An ornament to me personally is simply something that is beautiful to look at but serves no purpose other than being lovely to look at. So calling a horse a field ornament to me is not a derogatory term, quite the opposite, but pasture pet works just as well I guess.
 

PePo

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Pete has no practical purpose, in fact, usually quite the opposite according to my other half ...!

However, I completely love him nonetheless so saying he has no practical purpose, is a pet or a field ornament (regardless of whether I ride or not) isn't at all derogratory to me.

I suspect he couldn't give two hoots either - it's just words and I doubt words matter a jot to him :)
 

Cortrasna

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Aug 5, 2009
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Oh I love the term field ornament - describes something beautiful and much loved improving the look of my fields lol! In Solly's case his retirement name was the giant bunny rabbit - in other words our very large much loved pet that spent his time munching grass. I have had the 'field supervisor' much loved retired mare in charge of our youngsters. The 'turf supervisor' was a very old retired gelding who told us loudly and angrily when it was time to lead the herd on to better grazing. (Can you tell I have had a lot of retired horses through the years lol! )

To answer your question @newforest , no idea where any of the expressions came from, but I love them all, they sound to me like much loved and valued older/injured horses that still have an affectionate and jocular use within the herd, even if it is complete and very often expensive retirement thinly disguised as still being 'useful' :p
 
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Ale

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I prefer the term best friend :D

But people do say field ornament to me as though it's a bad thing, like he is useless, serving no purpose, a waste. Rather than a beautiful being who improves any field he's in. At my yard ale is referred to as field security :cool:
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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No idea where it came from. I think as a horse field ornament as one that can't continue the job it was acquired for. However just because it may not be able to be ridden if thats what it was got for doesn't mean it no longer has a purpose. It could go on to keep others company. If you are lucky enough to have your own pasture you need a way to manage it. So as long as it is lawn mowing is it an ornament.
I have a couple of cows that we are no longer able to breed from. They are still out eating on the hill doing the job they were put on the hill for but as they are non productive they are just field ornaments in a way. The problem is that they give us no return in the form of calves which we could sell for breeding or meat. In winter they cost us money to feed them supplementary food.
Is a cat, dog, rabbit guinea pig, rat just an ornament. Do they have any practical purpose.
Yes they make us happy, but they create us mess and work and cost us for keeping them. Unless we are breeding them to sell for return, could they be classed as house ornaments.
 
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OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
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I agree my dogs are pretty but useless they don’t earn me a living or contribute to the house other than the mess. I walk them because I enjoy it the same with chanter he has no other purpose than to make me smile when I see him.

I love the term because I like looking at pretty things. Something doesn’t have to have a use to be wanted
 
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lauren123

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Hmmm the term I aren't sure. However sox was a field ornament for a year, you could say pretty to look at but that was it . I dont think he cared either way to be fair.
 

newforest

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Interesting comparison to other animals. I think it's because people view a horse as needing to be ridden or doing.
I do get asked what I do with mine, as if it's expected. Though they do feel surprised I ride as oppose to drive.

I wouldn't buy a cow as a pet, I would a cat and my cob is a pet.
Leisure horses are all pets in some way? They are not required to earn their keep.
 
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PePo

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Interesting, I think there are lots of people that don't equate horses to just riding. Perhaps it's just the circles I move in though.

I'd happily have a horse and not ride him or her - there's so much to do on the ground!

I guess an intepretation of a horse having a 'job' or purpose can change over the years. Pete's was bought to be a RC and dressage pony. That's not suitable for him, so now his job is to teach me about horsemanship so I can take that and apply it to future horses. But his main purpose is to be my friend. In the future, his 'job' might become to 'just' look pretty in a field.

He's just my friend though, regardless of what he does or doesn't do :)

I personally think that unless someone has horses as a business, every horse is a pet - whether it's a pet that is never ridden, hacked at weekends or competes at BE.

All scenario's are ok :)
 
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Jessey

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I wouldn't buy a cow as a pet, I would a cat and my cob is a pet.
Leisure horses are all pets in some way? They are not required to earn their keep.
I would have pet cows if I had the space and fencing for them :p

Some people do view horses as earning their keep, their job being to be ridden or driven etc, it doesn't have to be a financial earning of keep. From that perspective Hank earns his keep by harrowing and giving pony rides occasionally, Dan doesn't work for anything, Jess is ridden and does other things for my enjoyment to earn hers.

I think field ornament or pasture pet is just the same thing, normally just heard from different sides of the pond. To me it just describes an animal that doesn't work, nothing more.
 
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chunky monkey

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Jessey. You could have one my three lovely field ornament Dexters. She'd go well with your clan as her name is Jessica.
 
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Jessey

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Jessey. You could have one my three lovely field ornament Dexters. She'd go well with your clan as her name is Jessica.
I like dexter's too, it might get confusing with 2 Jessica's (jess only gets called that when she is in trouble, it's that parent calling you by your full name thing :p) I loved having cornflower around last summer, she loved a groom and fuss :D
 
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