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What age do you start riding your drafts?
I have been told that draft horses are slower matures that some breeds (like Quarter Horses for example). However, I have been told the opposite also. I have been told that they are fast matures and that they can be started under saddle at 6 months old!
I thought that was pretty insane.
So I thought I should listen to people who have actually dealt and possibly have breed draft horses and, from self experience, have trained one for under saddle.
Someone is pulling your leg. While a 6 month old might be as tall as a mature light horse, they are physically and mentally just as immature as any other 6 month old. It's not uncommon to start harness work at 18 months but they aren't heading out and plowing the north 40.
I will wait until 2 1/2-3 years old.
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To do any actual Riding, I would say 3 years old and then limit to short rides and nothing over a trot.
4 Years old would be OK for more intense riding.
Start at 3 and increase intensity and duration at 3.5 up 4. After 4 you're good to go with must anything.
My belgian still wasn't sure what to do with his feet at 3 and 4 he was still growing. He finally started leveling out about 5. One day his rear end would be 2-3 inches higher than his front, next couple of days his front would be higher. He was always tripping and stumbling around.
At 3 they look grown but their not, so whatever you do just remember their still growing in mind and body.
My draft cross MAY be lightly backed at 3, but that will be entirely dependent on his maturity. Even if he is started at 3, actual WORK will not begin before 4.
I start riding my horses when my vet says their growth plates are fused, which definitely varies among breeds as well as the individual horses. For instance, my paint mare was cleared at 2yo. My racebred qh who had epiphysitis as a yearling when I got him, was 3yo before cleared for light riding, and my perch/arab was almost 5yo before he got full clearance.
However, between ponying them on trails, getting them used to wearing the saddle, hanging out on top of their back and doing little stuff at the walk, all of which I do from yearling on, when it comes time to ride them, they feel already well started.
i've got a 2y.o. draft cross the studs owner said wait till 6 for her to quit growing tall. Shes only around 14hh shes to physically immature right now for me to consider backing her i wont break until next summer at the earliest when she will be almost 3. I don't like breaking anything until at least 3 mental maturity is just as important as physical.
Draft horses are slow to mature but they are worth the wait. Don't back until they are 3 years old at the very least. Very light riding until they are moving towards 5 years old. In the UK we do not break them to harness/coach work until they are 6 or 7 and then it is done gently. They are not fully mature until they are about 7 and any stenuous exercise before this can cause joint problems as their bones have not hardened off properly before this. You will get a lot of 'advice' from horsey people who have 'been around hroses all their lives' - but draft horses are a specialist breed so have sometimes very different needs and requirements to other types of horses. Draft horses can 'jump' but please don't be tempted to use them for competitive jumping. They are built for strength and stamina which means they carry a lot of weight. A fully mature draft can weigh up to 1 tonne and if you can imagine this plus the weight of a rider being taken on the front legs after a jump, then you are going to run into problems eventually. Common sense applies to all areas of looking after a draft horse but they are truly wonderful horses. Enjoy the Vid. Clydedales int heir natural habitat in Scotland!
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