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Age to Break a Horse?

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    05-14-2010, 10:31 AM
Originally Posted by writer23    
It definitely depends on the physical and mental maturity of the horse. My current horse is 17.3hh and I love the fact he was allowed to maturity physically before being started as a 5 year old. So many injuries and disorders can be avoided by waiting until the crucial stages of growth.

There's a lot of talk right now about European Warmbloods being started at 3 and jumped heavily, when they break down in a few years they're imported to North America as 'dressage' horses. However, I have no first hand knowledge of this, just heard it in several conversations in different horsey circles.

I had an Appendix filly that was left to mature to 3.5 before she started under saddle work. She was easily to sell because she was left and not started at 2 and burnt out. The lady who purchased her obviously liked other characteristics about my girl, but she really appreciated getting a horse that didn't have a higher risk for joint issues, etc.
My Appendix gelding was started at age 4 (and he is 5 this year), and you would never known he was a "late starter", he grew 2 inches in the last 3 mounths. So that slightly worries me, but am sure he'll be ok he's only lightly ridden.
It's sad seeing a lot of horses just burnt out because the age they were broke (and other things). I have many friends with top show horses started at age 2, and now those horse are 7,8, and 6 and they have arthritus, and are just plain lame.
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    05-14-2010, 11:06 AM
Green Broke
It think it depends on the individual horse/breed/maturity rate. I've ridden a lot of 2 year olds. My own colt is 3/4 draft so wont be started under saddle until tail end of his 4th year in into his 5th year at the soonest.
    05-14-2010, 11:15 AM
My horses are halter broke at about a month old. Weaned then turned out till they are a year. Then they learn to lunge w/t/c/whoa. Then they get the saddle and learn to lunge with it. Then I tie a bag on the saddle, let them lunge with it. During this time I also teach them to sidepass, pivot on the front and backend. Then when they turn 2 I get on. I ride them for about 10-15 mins at a walk, and work on sidepassing, pivoting a step. At about 2.5 I start trotting and spins, then at 2.75 I start cantering. By the time they are 3... they have the basics to go into any western disciplin.
    05-14-2010, 11:52 AM
I stumbled across this but must admit I loved reading the responses.

I have a 2 year old filly to which when I got her a year ago was not even halter broke. She was a wild child... I was told put her in a rodeo, she was crazy. Nobody would handle her. My husband and I worked everyday with her and well now she is a wonderful horse.

I have never broke a horse before her but I have been doing basic ground work, I have lunged her in a saddle (which needs work) and my 11 yr old daughter this past week sat on her bareback for one minute. The horse stood there perfectly still not knowing what to do. I am not pushing her at any length but working her slowly. I do not think she will be aggresively worked with until at least 3...but we do things here and there.
    05-14-2010, 01:40 PM
I think it really depends on the breed. If I had a warmblood or draft I wouldn't start them until they where 3-4 but I start all of my QH's and Morgans at 2. They grow differently so can be worked at different times.

When we have a baby we do a lot of handling in the first two years. Teaching them to lead, stand, back, tie. When they are two then we start lunging and working from there. They are ridden as soon as they are able to willingly except a rider. I don't beleive in leaving the babies out in a field for a year or two without having regular contact and lessons on leading and basic ground manners.
    05-14-2010, 01:47 PM
None of the horses we started at two burned out, at least n ot while we owned them. I'm a firm believer in balancing work and play. We always got them out of a pen as soon as they were ready. It's amazing how much you can teach one out on the trail or going down the road. The key to our program was to keep them from getting bored, and to be able to read them.
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    05-14-2010, 02:34 PM
As for just training the day they hit the ground they start getting trained.

For under saddle work. The beginning of their 2 yo years.
    05-14-2010, 02:53 PM
Originally Posted by aforred    
None of the horses we started at two burned out, at least not while we owned them. I'm a firm believer in balancing work and play. We always got them out of a pen as soon as they were ready. It's amazing how much you can teach one out on the trail or going down the road. The key to our program was to keep them from getting bored, and to be able to read them.
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I really like this post cause that is my way of thinking too. Though I usually try to wait until at least 3 before I start any real riding work with mine, I am comfortable starting a 2 year old. It is all a matter of knowing when to quit and knowing how hard you can push them and what is hardest on their joints. Younger horses, I will spend more time out on the trails with them and older horses I will spend more time doing circles at a lope. One way isn't better than the other, it is just different and teaches them the same things in a different way. I currently have a 10 month old that would probably fit my saddle better than the 3 year old that I just sent home but more than likely, he will get to wait another 2 years or so before I really start riding him.
    05-14-2010, 03:29 PM
In my opinion, no younger than 3 for light saddle work, and preferably 4. If I ever get another baby, I won't break him out until he's 4. There are plenty of things you should be doing with a youngster prior to riding, like ground manners, desensitizing to things like tarps and water, ponying on trails, loading, learning to stand, tie, clip, put his head down, yield his fore and hindquarters from the ground, etc. I also don't believe in doing any serious work (jumping, barrels, whatever) until the horse is at least 6 years old. Some horses don't even grow out of their obnoxious, attention span-less baby phase until they're 8 to 10 years old.
    05-14-2010, 04:46 PM
I think lots of this depends on the type of horse, what sort of training it's getting, what it'll be used for, and how long you want the horse to last.

I've got a three year old that stands just a hair under 15hh. He'll be started under saddle this summer if he doesn't sell first. I've also got a two year old (in April) who'll be starting this saddle work this summer (Lunging, collection, flexion, etc) but there's a possibility he'll be rode by September if he's ready for it.

I also believe it makes all the difference in the world if you know how to train a horse.

age, debate, horse, training

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