How much can I ride a three year old mare? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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How much can I ride a three year old mare?

So umm, guys I own a three year old haflinger mare who I am training and she is very sweet and laidback.

She was rode a little bit during the summer last year(eep~!)mostly walking and I trotted her a little. My dad thought that I should have shown her but i really didn't want to hurt her by riding her too much and we got in arguments about it. He talked to some haflinger trainers and they said it is fine to ride and show 2 year olds but I wasn't convinced.

This mare got the winter off and this spring I started getting lessons on her. I took her to her first +second shows(walk-trot classes FTW) these past 2 weekends. I have been riding her for an hour for 5 days a week but I feel I might be riding her too much for her age. She is a very sweet mare that I don't want to ruin because my dad is pressuring me to show. I mean this mare is amazing and tolerant demonstrated by the fact that she will even let me ride her. Lawl bad riding.

So guys how much do you think I can ride her without hurting her? Please and Thank You!~

PS. I weigh 102 pounds(as of this morning) and ride English. The mare was born in February 2006 and weighs about 900 pounds.
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post #2 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:30 PM
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I think your 1 hr/5 days a week is good, depending on how hard you work her. Haflingers are generally sturdy horses. i have a 4 year old arabian and I ride him 2-4 times a week for around 1-2 hrs each time.
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post #3 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:32 PM
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Gunther was rode 4 times out of the week for an hour or so. I don't suggest jumping but flat work would be fine.
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post #4 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks and don't worry this mare is not being worked too hard. I don't actually think I have ever rode her so hard that she has sweat. Yeah I'm a weenie who can't convince myself that she will still love me even if I do work her hard...*sigh*

There is no way in the world I would even consider jumping her at this point. I personally think that horses should be 5 before they start jumping but my brother's horse was jumped as a three year old which is pretty cringe worthy.
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post #5 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:47 PM
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I honestly don't think you could be riding her too much at the age of 3. As long as her not putting lots of stress on her legs or anything it will be good for her. Most horses stop growing at the age of 4. Gunther got basic training at the age of 3 and he's perfectly fine. Just make sure the vet says he can do it and that he's sound.
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post #6 of 22 Old 06-23-2009, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, everyone told me that I'm not fat enough to hurt her if she is just rode lightly. You just never can be too careful.
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post #7 of 22 Old 06-24-2009, 12:17 AM
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I don't know anything about Haflingers, but I have young horses. First, are her growth plates closed? A trainer showed me how to palpate the knee of the horses and feel the soft spots of the growth plates. If there are 2-3 fingers in this place, then she is not done growing and should only get light work. If they are closed, then you can proceed with more intense activity. It depends on the horse. You cannot just estimate what is good for one will work for another. But, if she is not done growing - do you really want to hinder her growth and development prematurely? You have a whole lifetime to show her off, why rush it?

In addition, not ALL horses stop growing about the age of 4 - it depends on the horse. Warmbloods and TBs sometimes don't stop growing until 8. My QH grew until she was 5. It depends on the horse.

Last edited by aynelson; 06-24-2009 at 12:19 AM.
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post #8 of 22 Old 06-24-2009, 01:23 AM
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I don't understand this culture of breaking in and riding 2 year olds, they are still babies at that age! At 3 they are not fully mature and you shouldn't be asking too much. Even at 4 Haflingers are still not fully mature. I think you are riding her too much at this age and you definitely shouldn't be having lessons on her. As a 4 year old she should be stronger to cope with what you are asking now.

You have many years ahead and as aynelson said why rush her.
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post #9 of 22 Old 06-24-2009, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Well the reason I am riding her anyway is because my dad is expecting me to show her.If it was up to me I would have started her this year and "worked" her as a 4 year old.
We are actually signed up for a futurity in August which I am being pushed to get ready for. I just managed to get out of showing this mare as a 2 year old by arguing with my dad about it and he ended up just yelling at me anyway.Ok,umm, how do I tell if her growth plates are hardened or not like where would I check,her knees? If I told my dad that I'd like to have her checked by the vet he'd be all "Why? She is fine you aren't going to hurt her" but I fear I might.
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post #10 of 22 Old 06-24-2009, 08:06 AM
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I think you're totally fine riding her.

At the barn where I board the young horses are saddled, lunged and have a person lay across there back between the ages of 2-3, depending on the horse - their size, temperament and their overall "readiness" to start undersaddle. We keep going until someone can sit on them and be led around the ring.

After their initial backing they get several months off. Then between 3-4 years old, again depending on the horse, they are lightly hacked around the farm w/t/c and introduced to small cross rails.

After they do that for a few months and are at least about 4, they start going to dressage shows. They generally start jumping at shows around 5.

So, I really don't think you're hurting your mare at all. I think if you start them earlier (I mean 3/4) rather than later (5/6+) the training is a little easier.

Edited to add: Most horses are done growing by the time they are 6, and the growth between the 3-6th year is very slow. Maybe a small height increase during that time, but mostly just filling out with muscle mass.

Mom to 3 bays: Beau, Daisy & Cavalina

Last edited by My Beau; 06-24-2009 at 08:11 AM.
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