Originally Posted by horse_luver4e
I've heard of horses jumping 3ft when they were only 4 years old and they were fine. My horse is 3 years old and she only jumps around 1ft like I said and she is fine. If it is so stressful for them why do they race 2 and 3 year olds? I can see if I was trying to jump my horse 3ft now but come on 1ft. I guess we need to lock up the horses till there 6 years old so they don't gallop too fast and hurt themselves!
They might be fine now, but what about 3, 5, or even 10 years from now? Working a horse too hard young can cause all sorts of long term damage to their joints and bones.
Those 2 and 3 year old race horses OFTEN break down on the track, or develop serious issues soon after, like bone chips, bowed tendons, hairline fractures, early onset arthritis, etc.
Just RIDING her at 3yrs old for more than 15-20 minutes can stress her growing joints and bones (if you and ALL of your saddle and tack weighs more than 150 lbs and you go at more than just a walk on flat ground).
Jumping is stressfull on a horse's knees, pasterns, shoulders, hocks, and stifles, as well as the horse's back, neck, and hips. Done correctly, it's no problem. But done too early or too much, and the horse can develop long term soundness issues.
And no, on their own a horse will not (usually) hurt themselves. They need to have large pastures to run and play in as they grow. And riding a horse early (at 2.5-3) with a LIGHT WEIGHT rider can even strengthen a horse's bones, but you need to FULLY understand a horse's physiology and maturation process. If you just get on and go, you can risk doing long term damage to the horse.
For the long term soundness and health of a horse, they should not be ridden until 3yrs old (AFTER their ACTUAL 3rd birthday), no hard training like a lot of canteing on circles and hard and long (more than 3 hours) trail riding until 4.5 years old (so the hocks can develop), and no intense riding/training like jumping, cutting, barrel racing, etc. until 5yrs old or later. And the horse should be well conditioned for hard training and intense work, not just hopped upon and jumped one day
. http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/ranger.html http://www.robertmmiller.com/andthcaushol.html