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trailhorserider 06-27-2012 03:12 AM

Saddle Breaking horses REALLY young........
Another thread brought this to mind, but instead of getting off-topic on someone elses thread I thought I would start my own.

There was an article in Western Horseman a little while back, which I don't have in front of me, but I think it might have been December 2011. Anyway, they were interviewing trainers on their thoughts on riding long yearlings. I mean actual yearlings that wouldn't turn two until the next spring. No one was flatly opposed to it. They all sort of said "if the horse is mature and you take it easy, yadda yadda, yadda."

It kind of makes me wonder, are they wrong in their thinking or is everyone on the internet wayyy too sensitive to the subject?

Now I certainly think riding long yearlings is risky and they are too young to really carry a rider. But how can that be so common in the stock horse industry if the horses are going crippled right and left? Same with race horses. I KNOW it is not in the horse's best interest to start them before they are two, and yet it happens pretty regularly. Are we all just too sensitive? Or are people really sacrificing soundness for show and racing careers? Is it really that bad?

I'm not trying to knock anybody. Heck, I've sat on my (almost) two year old a couple of times. Just sat there bareback for a few seconds while he was standing next to the fence.

I'm talking about folks saddle breaking horses in the fall of their yearling year. I had no idea that even happened. And if it did, I though it was a taboo subject, not something Western Horseman would have an article on in a positive light.

So that leaves me to ponder.......does it really do that much harm? Are these horrible people putting money before the horses? Or are we all overly sensitized here in Internet land?

On this forum the moment someone mentions they've ridden a 2 yr old the collective "we" jumps all over them. But here professionals are doing it as the norm, sometimes before they are even two years old. Thoughts? Did anyone else read the article?

Bobthebuilder 06-27-2012 04:24 AM

Well at the end of the day it is up to the rider.
Unfortunately the horse world becomes a very hostile place when opinions differ, sort of a 'My way or you're stupid' thing, which is a shame.
Personally I don't agree with backing horses before the age of 3, and jumping before the age of 5.
Theres so much you can do in hand, I just don't see the rush to ride them. Theres also a lot of information about how and when horses mature out there, so I see no good reason to go against facts.
But, like said, it is ultimately up to the rider. As long as you're willing to take the consequences. Ie, care for the horse when it can't be ridden anymore.
But yeah, to each his own (:

OutOfTheLoop 06-27-2012 04:55 AM

I don't break mine that young, but I will ride them around 2, whether it be a little before or a little after. I don't do and hard riding at that age, but i do walk/ trot/ arena work, and take on some easy trails
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aldebono 06-27-2012 08:24 AM

Not only the physical aspect, but the mental.

Sure I threw a saddle on my mare and sat on her as a two year old, but only just in the past year or so (she is 8) has she come into her own and been mentally ready for real training and not just playing around from day to day. I did not have her with me while I was away at college but did get to see her often enough to see the mental change.

Was she physically ready? Yes. Mentally? I don't think so. She was just a late bloomer.

My personal opinion with my horses being a hobby, they should be allowed to be horses in a herd for the first few years. I want my horse to be with me, sound, for 20 plus years, and there is no reason to push for that year sooner to ride. IMHO.

Cat 06-27-2012 08:50 AM

Money is a huge incentive to do things a person normally wouldn't do and a lot of trainers aren't going to say anything publically that may alienate any current or potential future clients.

texasgal 06-27-2012 09:10 AM

Such a touchy subject ..

Many many many many ranches that raise ranch horses back their long yearlings, geld them, put them back in the pasture until they are 2 - 2 1/2 and then start riding them.

These horse go on to be USING horses, riding, penning, sorting, etc for many many many years of their lives .. and then teach young cowboys and cowgirls in their late teens and 20's..

These horses are not pampered... and WORK ... for years. Who am I to say that this is "wrong" ??

Having said that, I have an Arabian, and have been around Arabians and wouldn't consider backing at arab until 3 .. and then if they are mature enough.

I guess it depends on the breed, build, use, etc.

cowboy bowhunter 06-27-2012 09:20 AM

Lets start by saying a horse turns 2 on january 1st. And the fulurity is December the next year. So if they can break them at 18 months of age to light riding so they can start working the horses towards the futuritys sooner they have a better chance. But you hear these horses are old when they hit 10. But futuritys is where the money is.

Personally I wait to start mine till they are close to 24 months old.

smokeslastspot 06-27-2012 11:03 AM

Personally if I am still counting a horses age in months I will not be doing any real riding on them. I don't care how big they are at twelve months old it's still a baby to me. Just because a lot of people do it doesn't make it right.

Sitting on them and maybe walking around a few minutes before two is ok. Some very light riding like walking and limited trotting is ok after two. Three is the youngest I would feel comfortable starting "real" riding like trotting for more than a few minutes and cantering. I'm not out to make money or win awards though. Personally I get just as much pleasure out of my horses doing ground work as saddle time so riding them is not a must for me.

texasgal 06-27-2012 11:06 AM

Who said twelve months?

Saddlebag 06-27-2012 11:08 AM

Did the article mention how many of these colts are crippled by the age of 5 or so because of the stresses on young joints?

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