When to Start Riding a Draft Horse
We have an ongoing discussion here at the Farm about when to Start Riding a Young Belgian Draft Horse.
One neighbor who raises them said Two YO is Ok if you limit the weight to 125lbs and 15minutes and no trotting.
Another person say do not ride till four, period.
Another says, three and anything goes.
Anyone have an idea?
I firmly believe that no horse should be started under saddle until they're 3. This gives them time for their bones and joints to form properly and their minds to come "of age" to be able to handle the mental stress.
With larger breeds, such as drafts or larger Warmbloods, I would even suggesting waiting until they're 3 1/2 or 4. There is NO harm in waiting that long... you can still do the basics and get them doing everything except having a rider on.
ETA - If a person has the money to do so... get a vet out to tell you if the joints are closed or not.
The 3 1/2 was what we agreed on, we had her bones checked this year at 1.5 years when she decided to try to jump a 4' fence on her own, well she fell on her knees because she did not clear it, when she got scared by the Horse in that Paddock she jumped it again and cleared the fence by a mile...
Anyway the vet came and checked and thank goodness the joints were sealed and not damaged, we are waiting patiently to train her in Dressage.
She has great ground manners and has been trained to drive and is great at that, but we are never going to have her pull anything, just thought she should know how.
She will be something a little different in a show.
This pic was taken at two, about 14'-3 and 1000-1100 lbs.
Normally I would say 2 1/2-3 for starting ground work and about 3-4 for starting undersaddle.
For drafts they've got a bit bigger bones, so yeahh waiting a little bit to be sure deffinately doesn't hurt anything.
She's really cute. =]
I never like to see any horse under saddle till at least three years. I worry about the knees not being "ready", or closed.
I am glad I came across this thread, it is similar to question I just about to ask. A friend of mine just bought a haflinger mare, she is 4yo, preg with her 2nd foal (due in march) and apparently has already been on trail rides is bomb proof blah blah blah. It got me to thinking, I am used to working with QH and paints and that type, so I really dont know much about draft types and warm bloods. IMO, that is a lot for a 4yo horse. The pregnancy and the riding. I have heard that warmbloods and drafts mature at a different rate that say QH. Do they mature slower, and does everyone seem to agree that 3-4 or so is a good time to start under saddle for this type of horse?
Just trying to expand my knowledge.
I have been under the impression Drafts Mature at 6 YO, that is why we are waiting longer than our TB, App's and QH's to start under Saddle, I was never going to start her as early as some of our neighbors had said, but you know how it is when you are anxious, you want to ask to be sure.
The best thing to do is just keep checking until her joints are closed. Up until that time, work on ground manners, desensatizing, etc. You can even put a lightweight saddle on them and pony them on short trail rides. I don't ever lunge a horse for very long, especially a young one, because it is hard on knees and can deform the growth plates. I would wait until at least 4 before starting under saddle and then take it slow. There is lots of time for her to learn everything after she is through growing.
After posting threads over different sites and getting various insights on things I think you are better off not starting a horse before the age 3. It's funny because the opinion you will get from a site such as this vs draft horse owners is totally different and even coming from vets, there are different views and opinions on whats ok and whats not. I think you would be ok starting very light work on a youngster but would probably be safer for long term health to start them off gently at 3.
If you want to pm me, I can give you the link to a draft horse forum where you will get a totally different opinion.
The size, age and breed of the horse will also affect when you can start them up. My mare (FEHR's new horse *cough*) I wouldn't start until she was at least 3 because of how big she is.
Are you working with a trainer right now?
I wouldn't start any horse earlier than 3. Some even 3.5 depending on how they look.
There's no harm in waiting, but you could be doing enormous damage if you rush ;)
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