Shorter riding time with TWH due to long backs?
Several questions swirling around here......
I was doing some reading on horse's backs and it seems that the shorter backed horses can carry more weight and have less back issues.
We know that the TWH has a longer back. I've been looking at horses for sale (though I'm not buying for a couple more years yet, just looking) and I'm seeing a LOT of gaited horses that are being sold at 3, 4 and 5 years old.
While this would be considered very young with other breeds, it seems to be the norm to sell the gaited horses at this age as a finished horse, ready to go, and then all golden phrases like "bombproof" or "grandma safe"
Horses this age seem to go anywhere from 5k -10k.
When I have specifically searched out gaited breeds over 10 years old, I noticed that their price drops significantly. Much more so if they are 15 years. I've seen them listed for $1000 or less.
Now this could be that my searches are just being skewed somehow that's why I wanted to ask here!
1) Would you say that a TWH or other gaited breeds have a shorter riding life? In other words, is a 10 year old gaited horse more like a 15 year old horse of another breed?
2) if so, would you say it's due to them being ridden so young? Is it due to their long backs?
3) If a person like myself wants to purchase a TWH that is 10+ years, is there any way of knowing that a horse has or is going to have back problems? Is there any way to know if a horse has been ridden too hard or started too young?
4) I just started lessons at a new barn since moving back to Virginia. My trainer gave me a wonderful compliment that resonated with me later. I told her that ultimately I want a horse for pleasure and trail only. However, I still want to understand true riding, not just hanging on. I want to know about collection, half halts, smooth transitions, riding with my seat and not my hands, etc. She said that she was impressed because most people she encounters who just want a trail horse take a lesson or two and then buy a horse. She's a trail rider herself and she said it's amazing how many trail riders are experienced, yet know so little about true riding. And how they hollow their horse's backs and it eventually hurts the horse.
So that me thinking, are TWH's or gaited/trail horses in general "worn out" faster?
Sorry for this being so rambly and long! Just wondering everyone's opinions. As always, I love learning.
Simple answers, really.
Use common sense when riding and training a horse. There are some sects of the TWH world which are rather unsavory; they put showing and competing (or just breaking) far above the horse's welfare, and the result is an unsound animal. With good breeding for soundness and longevity, a quality Walker is no different than a quality Quarter or Arab. They need proper conditioning, time to mature before hard riding, and, well, common sense. Treat them right and, barring bad luck, they'll tend to last. Ride them young, long, hard, sored, or strung out....and they won't.
If in doubt, VET CHECK!
My now 24 yr old TWH went on his last hard trail ride when he was 16 and the only reason I had to quit taking him on big organized rides and difficult rides is because he developed Equine Metabolic Syndrome, which is close to insulin resistance but not quite. The disease slowed him down - period.
When we lived in SoCal and Duke was 15, I spent an entire summer schooling him in the rock hills with two friends and their QH's, to go on a 30 mile roundtrip ride in October. October in the Low Desert of Socal generally finds the temps have "dropped" to around 95 - 98 degrees.
To shorten this up, my beloved 14.3H TWH (in my avatar), not only wouldn't get out of his running walk GOING but I couldn't slow him down to match up with the two QH's on the 15 miles back home. They finally told me to quit trying to hold back, that they'd never seen a horse with so much energy and who barely broke sweat. Just let him "walk on!" So I did.
Duke never sored up in any way shape or form -- that huge motor of his was in peak condition and there was no slowing him down.
Until he got sick with metabolic issues, Duke historically started large organized rides (as in 250 - 300+ horses) in the top ten and would come back to the trailer in the top ten.
My TWH that is 16.1H and really long-backed went on an all-dayer with a handful of other horses when he was 14 or 15. He was not used to going a lot but paced himself with the lead horse and never broke sweat. The guy on the lead horse tried to buy "the Energizer Bunny" from me; said that horse was "tough as nails for never getting out". Thanks but no:-P
Then there's my 15.3H TWH whom I only bought six years ago then I had a pretty bad accident and haven't been able to ride him much. The husband of the previous owner trailed him all the time on some pretty rough climbing trails and her hubby is a big man. This horse was 12 when I bought him. He's now 16 and a lonnnnng way from being used up; it's me that can't take that kind of riding anymore:-(
I also have always ridden bareback, so I'm sure that helps my horses tremendously.
The prices of TWH's are way down to begin with - probably more so than other breeds in this lousy economy. Just because a horse is cheap doesn't mean there's something wrong with it. What could be, is that it didn't do well in the show ring, and/or the owners have too many, are in financial straits and need to sell.
I am sorry the OP has such a negative "Old Age" perception of Tennessee Walkers. Please read Bubba13's comments a couple times to hopefully dispel those negative thoughts.
I have four horses and I am done bringing more home. If I were looking, I would never turn away from a TWH that was in it's mid-Teens provided the vetting showed the horse to be healthy.
The one thing I would caution with older Walking Horses, is to have the vetting include at least blood work to determine ACTH level and insulin level. Especially if the horse is a chunk and the Seller brags on the fact that it's an Easy Keeper.
TWH's are on the predisposed list for metabolic issues; my two chunks have them; Mr. Long and Lanky does not:-(
Hope this helps:-)
I know as many walkers with short backs as long so it comes to me as a surprise that the breed is known for having long backs. I've also never known a walker with back problems that were not caused by an accident (and darn few of those) so I would say no, backs are not more an issue with walkers then any other breed.
Pricing is very much a regional thing. In my area a trail walker sells up to maybe 5k, fairly rare to find one above that. Show horses really don't have an upper limit but young prospects generally bottom out at 2k.
That said, we have many more trail walkers then show walkers in our area as the show circuit isn't really big out here. I suspect what you are seeing is a rather large show circuit with the older horses who just don't cut the mustard glutting your market. I used to know a show person that would travel to TN a couple times a year with one or two prospects and bring back a trailer full of walkers to resell. It easily paid for their trip and put some extra $$ in their pockets.
Don't be afraid to purchase a 10+ year old walker, they'll give you many good years of riding.
3 is too young to be considered finished IMO, but the reason why a gaited horse can be finished at 4 is because all they are trained to do is gait. They are not taught things that take time to learn like horses in other disciplines. Which is too bad, because I'm sure most gaited horses could do more if they were trained for it.
Also, don't forget TWH are not the only gaited breed out there. There's the Fox Trotters, Kentucky MT horses, Rockies, & LOTS more! You can find almost any size, or color to suit you, & nowadays a lot of them are not too pricey & a lot of cross breds gait, plus have the attributes of their other breed , too. So, have fun searching & make sure to take plenty of time to try out the horse, although my mare (Paso Fino) hardly gaited at all over the 4-6 times I tried her out, but as soon as she got home-she was a gaiting fool!
My TWH mare's back is so short a 28" pad is almost too long for her so as Darrin said, a good many Walkers are short backed. Good luck in your search :)
thanks for info!
I'm absolutely not biased at all against an older horse. When the time comes for me to buy, my ideal age is 10-15 years old.
but when I search, I'm mostly seeing really young horses for sale and it just seems way too young to me.
On another board, someone made the comment that a TWH broken young + the long backs many of them have + the fact that many trail riders don't take lessons and don't learn proper riding to keep your horse's back protected = a TWH that is worn out pretty bad by the time it's 10 years old.
This is not my opinion mind you. This is what someone else said and I wanted to see what others thought of that here.
I do like other gaited breeds like Spotted Saddles. I've never ridden Pasos, MFTs or Saddlebreds. My trainer said that the footfalls of each gaited breed is different so it's possible I could love a TWH gait but not the gait of another breed. We'll see what end up with when the time comes to buy. I'm not set on any particular breed, sex or color. I just want a good minded, honest horse, preferably over the age of 10. I do love me a TWH though. I wouldn't mind if that is what I ended up with.
Good to know some are short backed as well!
If there isn't a way to know, then that's fine. I'm just curious.
I can remember many times in the past trail riding with cowboy wanna be's yahooing, yanking the reins, kicking hard, just overall hard and rough riding. I'm sure years of that takes a toll on a horse. But can you tell that from looking at a horse is my question? If a take a trainer or a vet with my to purchase will they be able to tell?
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