Way more time! If you really want to use them for something other than just a pasture or stall ornament, go ahead and start ground driving them then use them with a light cart. I'd only do this dependent upon case by case basis. I don't like starting horses until the end of their third year going on four. I even might wait longer if the horse is still growing. But that's just me... others will have different opinions.
From what I understand that really depends on the breed I know a lot of people who have started quarter horses at 2, but when I mean started I mean lightly started and by three they were ready for some of the more intense stuff. I haven't seen ill effects from that from the people I know. However I grew up with warmbloods you don't start them until after 4, not only are they not ready for it physically but mentally they seem to mature a little slower. I just asked this question to a local trainer about when I should start my future (lord I hope it's in the oven) foal, who is a going to be a paint curly cross. She said that it should be fine to lightly start that cross at 2-2 1/2. So to answer your question I really thing it depends on the horse, are they physically and mentally ready to be started?
A horse is a horse is a horse is a horse, no matter how big or small, or how fast developing a horse may seem. They need more time for their joints and overall sceletal structure to develop and mature, so I am for starting a horse under saddle no earlier than in 4 years. The horse will then be more likely to live a longer, healthier life and be able to work soundly even at old age.
I think you can introduce them to the idea but then turn them out for another couple of years tofinnish developing physically and mentally. Seen too many 4 years olds with lameness issues cause by being heavily started and ridden at 2 years old.
At like 5 months old I'd put a pony saddle on my colts back for like a minute. And blankets, he's totally used to them being on him, can wave them around and whatever, he is used to that. When he was 1 I'd put the same pony saddle on on but with the cinch. Loose enough it wasn't squeezing on him but snug so it wouldn't go anywhere, I'd take him for walks with it. I had him used to all this as a foal. Except a bit of course. I never sat on him till he turned 2. And it was bareback. Not even 5 minutes. I still pretty much just do ground work with all the tack on. He's never once been scared of any of it, and never bucked with the saddle. It's all normal for him. He knows how to turn left, right back up, go forward and whoa with someone on him. Going to be a breeze when he's 3.
Starting at 2 is ok. Teach the basics, play with them worn saddles and stuff. But no real riding till they're body is mature enough
Work with them, start ground work and gently work them up to a working routine. Saddling is fine, bridling is fine. I wouldn't ride until they're 3-4 years old, and even then only gently, slowly, and for short periods of time. The skeletal structure isn't fully fused until about 6 years old. I wouldn't start any serious riding until about 5, and even then, work them into it gently.
They are literally still babies at 2 years old, no matter what the breed, gender, or size. They're not even remotely sexually mature until about 5 or 6, so I wouldn't treat any 2 year old as a mature adult mount for a few more years.
Horses are sexually mature at a year old or so. Yearning fillies and colts can and have had foals. Back on topic, I ride my 2 year olds lightly. I started my gelding in march of his 2 year old year, he was 23 months. Rode him bareback a few times, then in about may I started riding him saddled. Rode naybe 3-4 times a week, walking and jogging in the beginning. By the end of summer he was started walk, jog and lope, lightly. Then I gave him the winter off and began real work at 3. By the end of that year we were going on trail rides for about an hour or so. He's six now, been to a few shows for exposure. This year I'll start patterning him. Posted via Mobile Device