How High Can 4 Years Go?

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How High Can 4 Years Go?

This is a discussion on How High Can 4 Years Go? within the Jumping forums, part of the English Riding category

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    05-20-2012, 11:25 AM
Arrow How High Can 4 Years Go?

Okay, I was wondering if this was a logical way to go about this -

I am refering to how high young horses should be jumping. I am a firm believer that you can't go willy nilly jumping as high as you want, when you have a younger horse, ex. 4, becuase it will absaloutly kill their joints. So this is the methos I use-

Once you hit four, divide the age by two, and that's the maximum height to jump. For example -

4 years - 2'
5 years - 2'6
6 years - 3'

And I think that after 7 years old, you can jump just about as high as you and your horse are capable of jumping safetly, and logically. Anyone see major flaws with this? That said, I do not jump Cowboy (my 4 year old OTTB) over 2'. It bumbs me a little, because I'd like to go higher with him, but I know I shouldn't. So we are just showing 2' :p
(Not that it matters, but I regularly jump 2'9 with the school horses.)
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    05-20-2012, 11:56 AM
Hey, I'm not really here to comment on your 'system', just what I think is important.. Young horses are often full of energy and they will jump, turn and buck at their heart's whim. I don't think jumping at any height is necessarily bad for a young horse, if you consider that they do need muscle strength to jump high heights, which they will lack as young horses. What I think makes the difference is the amount of impact on the front legs.. A jump that is merely a hop, no biggie. A jump where they are completely off the ground and land with their full weight on just two legs, especially if more vertical, will be more strain on their legs. Therefore, not only the jump, but also the type will matter.. Oxers should be easier on young horses (and any horses learning to jump). And the next thing to consider is the breed of the horse and their own height. I think to determine when is a safe age to jump whatever you want, providing the horse has the strength thanks to good training, is when the growth plates of the bones in the leg close. Once this happens, the bones should be at their full strength. This differs for each bone in the body and also differs in different breeds.

And then there's the thing to consider about whether you're talking about loose jumping or ridden jumping.. A horse jumping loose should be fine with what he has the strength to do. A horse with a saddle and rider will not only have strain on the front legs, but also a hit in the back and on the back of the shoulders every jump he takes.. A good rider will diminish this, but the saddle will always lean on the shoulders at the landing and always push into the back at the take-off. Ask yourself whether you want your young developing horse to be subjected to this at a young age, when he barely even has the muscle strength to carry you and himself without hurting his body? The growth plates in the vertical spines on the vertebrae are the last to close in any breed, and will be the place that suffers most on horses worked too much too young, in any discipline.

And one more thing to consider if of course how often you jump them and how long at a time. Every day is a bad idea, with ANY horse, and especially a young horse, and obviously jumping for an hour straight also isn't smart.

So my advice is.. Don't look at the height per se. Look at your horse, his physical and mental strength, the theory you have of the development of their bones, their talent for jumping and the way they go over the fence, and the time you take training them for it. Then decide for yourself how much would be okay for your horse to jump.
    05-20-2012, 02:00 PM
Your system doesn't work if you look at the "young horse challenge" for 4,5,6 and 7 year olds. They start at 3'0 and the 6 year olds are at 1.20 (4ft) and go up from there.
    05-20-2012, 02:01 PM
Oh forgot I've seen GP horses at 5 year olds. I wouldn't do that but there is no real set height on jumps vs age
    05-20-2012, 08:17 PM
In my opinion if the horse is properly trained, has a solid and correct rider aboard, and is FULLY grown, then the height isn't much of a concern. The thing to keep in mind really is the longevity of the horses joints. No matter the age, if you're jumping your horse at the grand prix level (or big in general) there will be breakdown. That, is without question.
    05-20-2012, 08:56 PM
Completely depends on the individual horse. Not only in training, but in type (warmbloods mature much slower than QHs, for example), build, physical maturity, mental readiness....I've seen 3yr olds that could have already been jumping the moon based on their attitudes if their bodies had been ready for it, and 10-yr olds that still act like babies.
    05-20-2012, 09:22 PM
Thank you for all your posts :) Cowboy is nothing like the 'young horses' you mentioned, Jierda. He is really a relaxed jumper, and loves his job. He doesn't turn and buck, or show any sign of issue.

Oxer, I'm very careful about not hitting CB's back during and after a jump, and what you said about 'GP level,' is kind of why I use my system ;) To keep me keeping the jumps itty bitty. So that he never really has to have too much front leg impact.

If anyone was interested, here's a vid on Cowboy xD

Cowboy Jumping Again - YouTube
    05-21-2012, 07:16 AM
Originally Posted by xJumperx    
Cowboy is nothing like the 'young horses' you mentioned, Jierda. He is really a relaxed jumper, and loves his job. He doesn't turn and buck, or show any sign of issue.
Ah, sorry, I wasn't implying that young horses, or your horse, misbehave, just that horses, and especially when they are young, love to play, and they do the weirdest things while at it. If that doesn't hurt them (and if it did, they wouldn't do it by themselves), hopping over a small jump won't either.
    05-27-2012, 03:15 PM
I have a 6 year old who competes at 1.3O I think your system
Is sweet but doesn't work, good luck with your horse
    06-09-2012, 10:53 AM
You should really be careful when jumping young horses because it can cause huge problems in the future. My friend had a GP horse at 4 years old, but by 7 the horse was crippled and couldn't jump anymore. Is it really worth it? I know horses that are in their twenties doing 3'9 jumpers just because they were started out on the right track.

green, jumping, jumping green, starting young, young

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