at what age can you back a horse?
Hi I was wondering at what age you can start riding a young horse?
Ask ten horse people and you'll get 11 different answers.
I prefer to wait until at least three for most average breeds - to give them time to reach both physical AND mental readiness - sometimes four, depending on the horse.
I lightly back my babies bareback when they're around 2-2 1/2, sometimes 3, put a few easy rides on them and put them back out for the winter. I'm light, 115 lbs soaking wet, I doubt a few rides throughout the summer is going to hurt them. So far all the horses I've known to be started at two are still very much sound, with some even still competing. Granted, we take it easy and don't start real work until late three, early four and hell, my geldings six and doesn't know the meaning of wet saddle blankets yet, but a good solid foundation goes a long way.
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Agree completely, 3 is the earliest to put any weight on them. Normally I'll do every ounce of ground work and line driving I can before then to give them the best possible start.
Some people take it to the extreme and get x-rays waiting for the growth plates to fuse before they'll ride a horse (which can be upwards of 5-6 years in some breeds). I would love to do this, but typically I just back them and do light work for the first while any time after 3 - depending on mental ability too.
I like 2, get them doing some easy basics, then be done till 3 or 4.
I have a 2 yr old right now, he's like a been there done that 25 yr old in his head. Majorly chill and awesome. Better than a bunch of older horses I've been on.
No serious riding still. I have saddled him, taught him to go, stop and turn. Can also get him to trot.
But really usually just get in him bareback and walk around, just to ask him to do those simple things.
Is 2 1/2 safe enough to just start backing them and teaching them the riding cues from the saddle?
It really depends on the individual horse, OP. Some horses are capable of handling that sort of thing at 2-2 1/2, others are not. If you think about it, some 3 year olds often appear more like a gangly 1 1/2 year old, and some 2 year olds look and behave like 4 year olds. This is where having a good, solid base of being able to judge that will come into play. Do you have a particular horse you are preparing to start? If so, providing photos would help to at least give people an idea of the horse's physical readiness (glaring "not ready" signs will be pretty obvious - even though one can't see the internal structures).
I don't think it particularly matters how large the horse is. It's more a matter of how far along they are in their physical development. Working a lot on a young horse whose growth plates haven't fused can cause some damage (in my opinion one of the reasons that a 5 year old is considered "old" in Thoroughbred racing...they've been ridden hard way too early).
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