When does a horse mentally mature? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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When does a horse mentally mature?

I bought a 6 year old last fall. Now he's 7, right in nice early adulthood. He's fantastic, easy going, has a good work ethic, and is forgiving of my mistakes. He also relies heavily on me to be a good leader (he's low/middle in the herd) and gets stirred up/reactive when other horses do and can be mildly spooky, though he is improving in both regards. He will challenge people, but only a bit and accepts that they're in charge easily.

When does a horse really mature? I know their training and technical skills can improve essentially forever, but when do you know their personality and attitude have settled? Eventually, I would love for this guy to be a bit more steady/btdt so he can be my babysitter for less experienced riders (friends, family, etc). Is that something that will come with more time, maturity and experience/training, or do you think a 7 year old horse is already set in their way of approaching life and riders?

What's the difference between a 7 year old and a 5 year old? Or a 3 year old? Or a 10 year old?
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post #2 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 06:22 PM
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I don't know if this will help but I knew my horse since he was 9 and he couldn't handle being ridden by people. But by the time he was 10, he could handle multiple riders but he wasn't feeling good about it. By the time he turned 11, he could handle a beginner without freaking out.

So I think around 10-11 they begin to settle down and mature.

But that's only from my experience. Which obviously doesn't speak for all horses.

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post #3 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 07:25 PM
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Much like with people, it really depends on the horse. My mare is 8, and I would say that this is the year she finally developed a work ethic. I've had her since she was coming 5, and shew as always pretty level headed, but she would get grumpy and cranky if she thought what you were asking was too hard. That just finally started to go away this year.
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post #4 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 07:29 PM
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I do not think it is possible to say when a horse mentally matures. Some horses never really 'grow up' and will always take advantage of a novice rider on their backs - not by bucking but just by being naughty, like stopping to eat or looking at things they would never normally bother with.
Others can be naughty with a good rider but excellent with a novice or small child.

I have a 16 year old gelding that has never mentally matured. If he can cause bother then he will! He will pick up any feed bowl in the field and bash another horse with it until that horse tries to take it away from him usually ending up with a tug of war which the feed bowl looses out on and gets destroyed.

I would trust this horse with a baby crawling between his legs but would not trust him to behave with someone who thinks they know more than they do.

All are different.
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post #5 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 07:50 PM
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Foxhunter-Good point because my horse sometimes rebels when being asked to work TOO HARD, but I can put my 8 year old daughter on him and he is happy to do whatever she asks because she justs walks him around. She can steer him and stop him no prob. But he can sometimes be a handful with me and my older daughter. I kinda wish I could let him just be a kids pony but feel that would be wasting his potential and make him fat and lazy. BTW he just turned 7 in May so he is not anywhere near to retirement lol.
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post #6 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 07:56 PM
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I was wondering this too! I got a 6 yr old in October and he acts just like a 2 year old. Picks EVERYTHING up in his mouth and even had the hay feeder thrown in the middle of the pasture the other day. And somehow got the salt block dish out from under the 50 lb block....

He also has a stick fedish and will collect sticks and whatever else he can find and will 'hide' them in a pile in his shed.
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post #7 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 08:05 PM
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I think it really depends on the horse.

For example, the now fifteen (I think..) Standardbred mare named Maggie is now suitable for beginners and is pretty calm usually. My instructor said that, up until around eight, Maggie would go around at shows and buck and was the definition of crazy... she even came close to running over a judge. It took lots of work and eight long years for her to become even slightly level-headed.

As for Major, he's always been quite laid back. My instructor said that when he was a yearling, he got his head stuck in a step ladder and just lifted his head up and looked around as he waited for someone to get it. As a foal, he had been brought down from Manitoba in a trailer with twenty or so other foals and was the calmest of the bunch.. whereas his half sister was crazy. (and still is, apparently) He rarely spooks, although he is quite energetic if he doesn't get normal exercise.

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post #8 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 08:36 PM
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For me they hit that stage around 8-10 But it depends on the people working with them too. They are like children, the adults around have to set a good example!
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post #9 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 09:09 PM
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Completely depends on the horse, just like in people. Some horses mature faster then others....there is no for sure way of knowing how a horse is going to mature.

Conformation is how far the horse CAN go,
Mind is how far the horse WILL go,
Training is how far it DOES go.
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post #10 of 18 Old 07-28-2012, 09:20 PM
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I also seemed to find mares mature faster mentally than their male counterparts. Pretty much like humans, lol, sorry guys!
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