When Do You Prefer to Back Your Youngsters? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 27 Old 12-17-2018, 06:56 PM
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Atoka, Isn't it funny how animals and kids raised and treated the same can have such different personalities. When buying a horse that is one of the traits (extrovert) that I look for. Sounds like Oops is a good one.
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post #12 of 27 Old 12-17-2018, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
When growth plates mature is certain. What isn't certain is that it matters much. Pretty common to wait until the knees have closed. After that? And does moderate exercise increase bone strength, or not?
I think we've been around this mulberry bush before. The equivalent to what you are talking about would be young horses fooling around in a pasture together. Injuries can occur. What isn't comparable is racing a horse at full speed as a two year old, over and over and over. Repetitive slide stops, gallops from a standstill, and spins, with a 250 lb rider as a three year old. This is not the same thing at all.

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post #13 of 27 Old 12-17-2018, 09:41 PM
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This subject gets thrashed about once or twice a year on here, I guess we are due to to it again!

To answer the OP's question, it depends and it really seems to vary by discipline on what seems acceptable within those disciplines. If I was to make a blanket statement or generalization, most western show and race horse people start their horses earlier than those who ride english. Simply generalizing as we all do on this subject.
I ride mine at two years old.

Anyhow these conversations always turn to when is the right time to start colts. Well it seems to me in these discussions the age of a colt started always determines his longevity.

I don't find this to be the case. There are so many factors other than just age of being started.

So many times I see, "he's crippled at 4 because he was started as two year to make the futurity". But what about the ones who aren't crippled showed futurity, derby, open and non-pro and retired sound? Can you really say it was the age of when he was started?

I have been on both sides of the fence, started them as two year olds and started horses later, 3,4,5+. And for those who crippled and those who stayed sound into their late teens and 20's there isn't much to base reasoning off and especially not the age they were started. Even based on what is considered good conformation didn't make the difference along with age started, how hard they were used, level of care.
I have seen horses raised on the same place, same parentage, same care, same start turn out different as far as longevity.

I am not saying age of starting isn't a factor, as it is but there are so many more that effect a horse's outcome, some we can control and some we can't. We can control what age we start our own horses but it certainly isn't a guarantee of long term soundness.

Of all the subjects on horses, the age of starting is the one that gets generalized the most and adamantly.

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post #14 of 27 Old 12-17-2018, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ksbowman View Post
Atoka, Isn't it funny how animals and kids raised and treated the same can have such different personalities. When buying a horse that is one of the traits (extrovert) that I look for. Sounds like Oops is a good one.
You know. I always knew dogs and cats and kids have wildly varied personalities, but even though I hung out with the horses 'out back' that were owned by a breeder when I was little, for some reason I didn't realize how different horses are until we had the ones we have now. Frankly, I didn't even realize how differently two horses can be BUILT until we got all the horses we have now. LOL Sarge has to have the LAST HOLE in everything, everything is just almost too small for him; Trigger who is taller than Superman is a short rig horse - I have to take up everything as SHORT as I can get it, sometimes punch new holes, or even like with breast collars thread the tugs through the d's THREE times before i buckle them.

Oops drives my husband nuts because she's a gate crasher - and if it's just him on the tractor, it's hard to get the gate open, get through, get down get the gate closed without her making a run for it (Straight to the house), but she's absolutely been a joy to have. She's never going to be big - she's very small built - but we're hoping she and our granddaughter, once Supes has taught grandbaby all he can, get into untold amounts of adventures together.
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post #15 of 27 Old 12-18-2018, 07:05 AM
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Take this with a grain of of salt because my vast experience of starting a baby is one that I haven't even started riding yet.

She's 2 1/2 (will be 3 next May) and I don't really feel like she's ready to be ridden yet. I have done pretty much everything with her except ride her. She takes most everything with a grain of salt. She has protested at times but nothing extreme. Here's the thing with me. I don't feel like I have to ride her right this instant nor do I need to get her ready for anything. There is no one else involved that we have to meet their expectations, only me and her. I still don't feel like she looks mature even though I think mentally she can handle it.

She gets plenty of exercise just from being outside most of the time and getting ponied on short trail rides. I don't think leaving her riding career until later is going to be detrimental to her at all. My plan for her is to get up on her back next year at three. I will probably just tool around quietly with her on the property a couple of times a week and teach her the basics of listening to cues from above. I really don't think she will have any problems as she already knows the cues from the ground. I'll probably start riding her on shorter trail rides in the fall of her third year. Most of that plan still depends on how she looks to me and I still think that is pretty early to start her.

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post #16 of 27 Old 12-18-2018, 07:22 AM
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I usually get on the back of young horses when they are 3. But it very much depends on the breed and the mental state of the horse. Some are 4. I start pre-work, getting used to saddle, lunging etc when they are 2 years old, if it's my own horse. I do it for a living, so sometimes the horses come in when they are a bit older.
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post #17 of 27 Old 12-18-2018, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
...What isn't comparable is racing a horse at full speed as a two year old, over and over and over. Repetitive slide stops, gallops from a standstill, and spins, with a 250 lb rider as a three year old. This is not the same thing at all.
No, it isn't. It is pretty equivalent to how many back a young horse, though - which was the question. Medium rider. Lots of walking. Lots of rest in between.

I'm not a big fan of "Repetitive slide stops, gallops from a standstill, and spins, with a 250 lb rider" for ANY horse at ANY age. My personal answer for "When should a horse start serious competitive training for reining?" would be "35 or 40 years old..." It obviously CAN be done with success, but...and that goes for MANY horse sports. To include lunging a young horse in circles, hard trail rides, jumping.

But it wouldn't be the growth plates of the back I would worry about. Or the back at all. Bandit was required to ran fast for 10-15 mile legs hauling a 265 lb rider on his 800 lb frame. Bandit has huge KNEES. No sign his back is injured, but I expect I'll have to have him put down at a too young age based on damage to his legs. Hope I'm wrong.

That has nothing to do with someone doing light riding on a 2-3 year old. Bandit wasn't started until 4 years old. Some things just shouldn't be done regardless of age. Expecting an 800-850 lb horse to haul up to 300 lbs on his back regularly is one of them! Pictures below are of Bandit when I got him versus now. He's grown, but he still has no business trying to carry 300 lbs:

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post #18 of 27 Old 12-18-2018, 06:22 PM
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IMO, It is more about how hard and how much you ride them rather than when you start riding them. I started both of my young horses when they turned 2, starting meaning I rode them around for 15-25 minutes just doing walk and a little bit of trotting, once or twice every couple weeks. Slowly doing a little more at a time. I'm only 5'5" and not that big so I didn't feel wrong to ride either of them a little bit. It also depends on the young horse's mental maturity as much as physical maturity. Both of mine are almost 3 now, We do 20-30 minute trail rides once a week or so. A lot of people take for granted that if you ride a 2 year old that you are riding them like you would a 10 year old horse, and if you did, that might cause problems. You should ride a 2 year old like a 2 year old and a 10 year old like a 10 year old. Each horse is different so you really have to just use your own judgement. There is no right or wrong answer, you just have to base it off what you feel is right for the horse.
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post #19 of 27 Old 12-19-2018, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cheerfully View Post
Hi again!

I've mostly always believed that each horse is different in their maturity and growth, so my answer would be "it depends." But I would say 4 is an okay time to start really riding, depending on the horse. But I've come to realize it isn't the opinion of many around me. I worked at a Thoroughbred breeding farm, so all of their answers were 2 years old. But at this place I'm boarding, although super relaxed, most of them probably have never owned a horse under 10 and that wasn't an already super-broke trail horse. They're all asking when I'll finally be riding my gelding who is probably an early 3 year old, not long 3 year old like we thought. He shot up 2 more inches in the past 6 months it seems! He is still quite immature, and I do not feel he is ready for actual riding. We go for walks, do ground work, all that fun stuff right now, which it seems he still needs a lot more of. Even my OTTB didn't really settle into a calm, mature disposition until he was 5 or so.

Anyway, excuse my rambling. Just wanting to discuss! For those who have started a lot of youngsters, when did you find they really settled into a mature mind suitable for work? Or simply, do you wait to back them until then or do you prefer to back them when they're younger?
Before I give you my opinion let me provide medical information which should be considered by everyone who is going to start actually riding a horse (since that's what you're asking....when is it good for working them under saddle).

I'll give development time for a filly of common riding sized horses (TB, QH, TWH, etc....) which have the shortest times. A horse's joint development matures from the ground up (with the exception of their neck joints). Now while it can vary slightly (by a matter of months), based on gender and breed size, it take 36 months for the leg joints alone to finishing developing from hoof to scapula (colts generally take about 6 months longer than fillies). It's 60 months before the back has finished developing (add 6 months for stallions...they are no longer colts at 48 months). The base of the neck is the last joint to finish, but since it has little to do with a horse carrying weight I won't get into that (but it does matter some with treatment which can impact the neck).

Now before I continue, let me point out that following the guidelines of the TB racing industry is about as intelligent as going back to surgical cleanliness procedural practices from 1000 years ago. e.g. it doesn't matter when your horse was born, the Jockey Club sets it's birthdate at 1 Jan. They race horses, running full tilt, as 2 year olds when they have not been out of them dams for 24 months. So forget those people and all the training age concepts (even for other breeds) that came out of that training philosophy.

Think of it in terms of children. Unlike dogs or cats where we like to say 1 year = 7 (which is not really accurate since it varies depending on their actual age), horses do actually age at about a 1 year = 3. So a 3 year old is like a 9 year old child in development. So ask yourself how much would you load on a 9 year old and make it carry for 10 miles. Of course to be fair we have to put the 9 year old on their hands and knees since that would be more accurate (horses are not structurally designed by nature to carry weight on their back) since we are better designed for carrying weight providing we are standing (but not on all fours...when we are more like a horse).

Personally, I've started training horses at 14 (1971). I've made mistakes that I learned from. I had old 1800's horse men who taught me things that false, but also told me to ignore things that many people believed (because of tradition), but they knew from experience were rubbish (like a horse needs to be shod...they proved beyond any doubt that it was rubbish using a white mare with white feet). Of course Gordon Naysmith shattered that myth around 1972 when he rode 10,000 miles, much over brutal terrain, while unshod :)).

Anyway. I'm not talking about training in general here. There is a great deal of training and even conditioning that can be done long before a horse ever feels the weight of a rider on it's back. However that is not what you asked about.

Originally Posted by cheerfully View Post
But I would say 4 is an okay time to start really riding, depending on the horse. But I've come to realize it isn't the opinion of many around me. I worked at a Thoroughbred breeding farm, so all of their answers were 2 years old.

I turn down people who want me to train 2 year old for riding or even 4 year olds unless it's over 56 months since I'll work them at being saddled and being mounted so I'm never going to be on their back for more than about 10-15 minutes per day while I wait for them to reach 60+ months (depending on size and gender.....stallions or larger breeds I add the extra months for). I'm certainly not going to be "riding" them.

Now all that being said. As I tell many people (including those who I've refused to start riding their horse too soon). "It's your horse so you can what you like. It's not my horse so I can't stop you. But if it were my horse it would be older before it started to be ridden". So all the people who read this and disagree...the same statement holds true (not my horse...not my problem). As for the development time for a horse's joints...well, doesn't matter what you choose to believe or not. Equine medical science is what I'm going by. That doesn't mean you can't ignore reality and go with tradition (even try to find someone to use 15th century medical practices to take out your appendix LOL)....or even what the Jockey Club says LMAO. Feel free to drink the Kool Aid if it makes you feel better, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you're doing right by your horse.

They're always going to be bigger and stronger so you better always be smarter. (One of my grandfather's many pearls of wisdom)
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post #20 of 27 Old 12-20-2018, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
When growth plates mature is certain. What isn't certain is that it matters much. Pretty common to wait until the knees have closed. After that? And does moderate exercise increase bone strength, or not?
Bsms, the problems I see with equating riding horses with human growth plate damages, at least as per that bit of article you quoted...

Firstly, no one is riding on the backs of crawling children, let alone for long periods of time or expecting them to perform athletically. So there is NO correlation between the human data & riding a horse & epiphyseal damage of the spine.

Next, significant & permanant damage IS done due to growth plate fractures in children & other animals. I think it depends on stage of growth, immediacy of treatment etc, as to degree of damage, and of course modern therapy and orthopedic surgery can correct the vast majority. But damage to the epiphyseal plates frequently retards/arrests further growth of that bone. Leading to one leg slightly shorter than the other for eg. When the damage is to the tibia for eg, it can cause twisting of the limb, as the fibula continues to grow. Damage to the carpus & elbow will also result from this.

Unfortunately I know about that specific issue due to my puppy having an undetected minor fracture, only discovered when her limb started to skew. Unfortunately, despite orthopedic surgery, her limb is significantly 'carpal valgus', the carpus is osteo arthritic, she walks on the medial side of that foot and the elbow had little movement, probably also osteo arthritic. She is lame with too much exercise. And she is only 2.5yrs old.

Another point of discrepancy with comparing human studies is that when pain/damage does happen, we generally know immediately &(perhaps with the exception of gymnastics & ballet...) the child is generally 'rested' rather than having to 'work through it' - often because horses, who are also stoic, are often misunderstood and reactions due to pain are labeled behavioural.

...Now back to my opinion of op's question...

All horses' skeletal maturity, regardless of breed or size, happens around the same rate, being fully 'closed' by around 6 years old.

We know that riding can easily damage a horse of any age, depending on many factors. That current knowledge has shown that what we have commonly asked of horses in the past is often not good for them.

I feel that it is just adding so much more potential to the likelihood of harm, when we put undue strain on immature bones & joints. Therefore I don't believe any significant weight should be put on the back of a young horse, except for very light, for very short periods & only at a walk. & I dont think it's a good move to do any long or hard riding, any high impact athletics such as jumping, on a horse until around 5-6yo at least.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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