Opinions on whether to back a 2 yr. old briefly - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Opinions on whether to back a 2 yr. old briefly

I have a 2 yr. old Hanoverian/TB filly, turned 2 the end of April. She is all legs, slim, about 15.3-16.0 hands and growing like a weed. A trainer I ride with occasionally said she typically backs a 2 yr. old, gets a couple short rides in, then lets them be other than ground work until they are 3 so that when they are bigger, they already have the concept of being mounted in their head. I can't imagine getting on her right now..... she's so spindly and awkward looking. Opinions?

Dana
Riverside, CA
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 01:31 AM
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That is quite common. Get a few basics on them, then put them out until they are three years old to grow and mature. :) it's up to you though. She's your horse. Don't let anyone pressure you into anything you don't think is good for YOUR horse.

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post #3 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 05:54 AM
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I personally wouldn't want to get on her while she's growing rapidly, but by all means, mouth her, get her responsive on the ground, chuck rugs/saddles etc. on her, boots on her etc. Do everything with her other than actually getting on a riding, and also avoid any serious lunging at this age. At 2 years old they tend to like getting into mischief and need something to keep them occupied, doing a lot of work on the ground, mouthing etc. will give her something to think about, without affecting her growth :)
It's certainly a common practice to get on them for a week or so then put them out until they're 3. But it really does depend on the horse, if it's a horse that is looking quite mature at 2 - 2 1/2 and has a good sound mind, then sure if you are only going to sit on them and teach very basic aids. I'm not a huge fan of this practice and think it's more appropriate to be teaching them as much as you can from the ground before worrying about getting on board.
You could always - if you're brave/a very good rider/mare is QUIET - slide onto her bareback. Or even just lie across her, sit on a fence next to her so she gets used to you being above her, pony her off another horse again so she gets used to you being higher than her etc. There are so many things you can do without having to back her :)
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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She probably weighs about 900+ lbs right now but it very butt high-this picture is from about 2 mos. ago.

Her legs are so fine-boned, such a baby still ...... my last baby was a draft cross and we waited until he was 3 to get on and even then did very little, didn't even canter until he was 5 and he's still REALLY unbalanced :)

Jewel was a spoiled pet until I got her so we've learned a lot of manners, how to lunge and are working on trailering. Since I brought her to my place about 2 wks ago, she's been learning to be with other horses and getting turned out (was kept in a 24X24) so she's enjoying getting to stretch out those long legs, not enjoying being bossed around by grumpy geldings but she's become much less pushy and calmer :) She's been sacked out, loves water and I actually ponied her from her old home to my place due to her not trailering and no good place to work on it there so we'll start doing more of that. She is much more flighty than my draft cross for sure!!

I think I'll hold off and go with my instincts regarding backing her. She just seems too fragile right now. Thanks for your opinions!

Dana
Riverside, CA
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 03:45 PM
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Wait till she's stronger. I went by the "age" and once tried my youngster, and she gave an almighty buck-- just leaning some weight on. You don't want her to think anything wrong about a little weight! It should be interesting, unusual-- not uncomfortable. Fortunately, when I tried it again, about a year later, she'd forgotten the episode, but I still wish it had never happened.
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty View Post
I personally wouldn't want to get on her while she's growing rapidly, but by all means, mouth her, get her responsive on the ground, chuck rugs/saddles etc. on her, boots on her etc. Do everything with her other than actually getting on a riding, and also avoid any serious lunging at this age. At 2 years old they tend to like getting into mischief and need something to keep them occupied, doing a lot of work on the ground, mouthing etc. will give her something to think about, without affecting her growth :)
It's certainly a common practice to get on them for a week or so then put them out until they're 3. But it really does depend on the horse, if it's a horse that is looking quite mature at 2 - 2 1/2 and has a good sound mind, then sure if you are only going to sit on them and teach very basic aids. I'm not a huge fan of this practice and think it's more appropriate to be teaching them as much as you can from the ground before worrying about getting on board.
You could always - if you're brave/a very good rider/mare is QUIET - slide onto her bareback. Or even just lie across her, sit on a fence next to her so she gets used to you being above her, pony her off another horse again so she gets used to you being higher than her etc. There are so many things you can do without having to back her :)




Exactly! I completely agree! You dont want to damage her growth plates. In my opinion its better to wait than rush and be sorry. When I went to school for colt breaking he told me you would be surprised how much a started horse has learned after the fact of being put back out to pasture and being brought back in when matured. They dont forget they learn more. But like whats said before the more ground work you put on the better foundation for an even more well behaved horse.

"Something about the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person."
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 08:09 PM
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I, personally, no longer "back" (get on) the horse until AT LEAST 4yrs old. Between 1-4 years there is a lot we can do together to prepare for the "big day". From basic ground work to more advanced in-hand work.

In general, I've found waiting is not only easier on the horse physically, but they are more mentally ready as well. There's more focus on their part, and they're physically better capable of carrying a rider.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 08:46 PM
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Backing is all about what the individual horse is ready for. As you've observed and is blatantly obvious, your filly is a bit of a late bloomer. I am EXTREMELY leery about riding excessively downhill youngsters because the back is obviously not at the point where it's ready to be taking weight - you could be asking for a boat load of problems with her balance and stride when she's at such an awkward stage.

And the big thing nobody seems to think of - what IF they buck? No, you won't hurt her by sitting on her for 10 minutes at 2 years old. But what happens if she bolts and pitches a fit? I don't care how small you are, 100+lbs slamming down on a completely undeveloped and unfused spine repeatedly IS going to cause damage.

There is absolutely nothing proving that horse are easier to train by backing at a young age. In fact, in my experience, the older a horse gets the slower they may learn but the safer they are. I can't count how many old broodmares I've climbed onto that have "never been ridden" and all they do is stand there with a yawn while you pull and nudge them about. The attention span of a horse is so short as a youngster, do we really get ANY farther by doing short constant sessions as opposed to long daily sessions?

Think about Mustangs - top trainers have absolutely zero issue bringing in an 8 year old rangebred Mustang and polishing it up for competition in 60 days. No we aren't professional trainers, but it just speaks for the fact that older horses aren't anymore "difficult" to train.

I broke my Paint filly in when she was 2.5 years old. I won't say I regret it, but it wasn't necessary. I doubt she'll have any lasting effects, we've been super gentle, short rides and she hasn't blown on me at all yet, but I'm reaching the point where I'm realizing the problem. She's just over 3 right now, and she's starting to assert herself. When I'm out on a trail on a horse that figures she wants to bolt, I want to know I can work the BEJESUS out of her - and I can't. I'm holding back now and doing some light riding and more groundwork on her to keep her in shape, and next year she's gonna get what for!

Best of luck your girl is GORGEOUS.

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post #9 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 09:36 PM
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I personally would weight until her overall balance is better, and until she's out of that 2-yr old mindset. A quick leg over could, like MM said, throw her into a bucking/bolting/rearing spasm, which is sure to damage her back. Wait, be patient, she'll be much more prepared to deal with the idea of riding when she's more mature.

Good luck with her, she's very nice-looking! What do you plan to do with her? Eventing? Dressage?
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the opinions and compliments. I lucked out. A friend bred her and decided she wasn't capable of training her so she offered her to me for free!! My daughters ride in Pony Club (eventing) and have lower level horses right now, jumping 2'-2'6" and I'm hoping if she has the mind for it, that someday she can be their higher level eventing horse. On her sire's side she has excellent bloodlines (Devon Heir). Her dam is jockey club and a nice looking mare who used to do jumpers. She's such a little goober right now but it is fun watching her learn to be around other horses (she's been kept in a 24X24 corral since she was weaned) and being out in a pasture where she can really let loose and fly :) She's more bonded to people than horses at the moment. She's a quick learner, very athletic, leaping in the air like a Lipizzan!

Dana
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