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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!
To keep it short and get straight to the point, I had a few questions regarding training a pasture horse:
-How old is too old to start training a horse to ride under saddle?
- Is a horse ever too old to start or continue jumping?

Backstory:
My aunt is starting to think about letting go of her two horses but they mean the whole world to her and rather them go to someone she knows. My grandma told her that I ride and want a horse of my own eventually, and so my Aunt kinda assumes I'll be able to take them in. The horses are mother and daughter, and I'm actually kinda close to them as I always came by to say hi and spend time with them when I was a kid (I even named the daughter when she was born). Well, the mother has been used for tail riding when my aunt was still ok to ride, but she hasn't been under saddle in a long time and I probably will just let her continue to be a pasture pal.
As for the daughter, if I remember correctly she may be around 11 years old now. I was wondering if she would still be able to be trained to ride and possibly jump (as I do more english than western and like to focus on jumping and such). I've heard people shunning horses 10 years and older because they're not in their prime to be ridden anymore, but I wasn't sure if that's a true statement. I'd like to be able to train the daughter properly so she could be potentially ridden and jumped, but I don't know if her age hinders her ability or not.
 

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Whether she can physically jump or not is entirely dependent on her health, structure wise. There are 30 year old horses that still jump, and there are 9 year olds with such horrible arthritis they can't even do a cross rail. That would be something a vet would have to be involved in to decide, I'd imagine.

No, she's not too old to work with, but how much skill/experience you have and how well the two of you get along will play a huge factor. Some horses get set in their ways worse than others. And there's also the possibility that, even if she is sound and trainable, she'll hate jumping. It's a gamble, but to answer your question, no, she isn't necessarily too old.
 

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Horses are not fully mature until the ages of five or six. I would say that a five to fifteen year old is in the prime of their lives. After fifteen I would say that they are starting to get some age on them. But, just like everyone else, the ageing pace would depend on a lot. The individual animal, how they have been cared for all of their lives, what they've done in their lives, etc. I would consider 20 and above as an older horse.

I would think that most horses can be trained at any age. You just may go about it a little differently than you would with a baby.
 

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Chico, my 18 year old Arabian wasn't broke to ride until he was 15. We bought him as a steady eddie, confidence builder that family could ride. He mostly liked to walk, rarely trot, never canter. Turns out, he just wasn't in shape. He started doing 25-30 miles last year and when he never got tired this year I decided to move him up to 50 mile Endurance rides. He's done 3 now and finished perky every time. He may never be a 100 mile horse due to his age but I also never expected him to even do 25 mile rides so we take every day as it comes. I'm lucky because he doesn't have a lot of the arthritis, other injuries that horses that were heavily used by his age have. I plan on starting him on Adequan injections as a preventative next year but I hope to have many great years riding him left!

Moral of the story, 11 is certainly not too old!

(Picture is him at our 60 mile Endurance ride last weekend. He finished 60 miles in a little over 9 hours)
 

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I don't think 11 is too old and if she has been well cared for then at least you know her history. Just keep in mind that some horses just don't like jumping or cutting or barrel racing or whatever it is. So there will be that because if you are dead set on having a jumping horse then purchasing one is the better route, especially if you can't afford to buy more horses after you take over these two. I have gotten roped into that trap a few times. Taken in a horse that did not really suit my purposes after it was given to me by a close family friend; I was being nice by taking this horse that they couldn't afford off their hands and legging him back up. I thought I was being clear that I would be re-homing him, but then it ended up being a whole mess with hurt feelings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
yes, I'm afraid of that. I really love the two and I know they're my Aunt's kids so I texted her asking if she would even be ok with her being trained to ride and if so, then would she be open to her being a jumper. I think she wouldn't mind that but she would say something similar the if the horse is ok with jumping, then it's ok with. Although if she doesn't, then I'm afraid I might not want her although she could still be ridden. :/
 

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yes, I'm afraid of that. I really love the two and I know they're my Aunt's kids so I texted her asking if she would even be ok with her being trained to ride and if so, then would she be open to her being a jumper. I think she wouldn't mind that but she would say something similar the if the horse is ok with jumping, then it's ok with. Although if she doesn't, then I'm afraid I might not want her although she could still be ridden. :/
It's a tricky situation when you get a horse given to you and they still have strings attached. If you can afford those horses and potentially a jumper then it becomes easier.

I am in a similar situation where I have a friend who needs to sell his horses, but he priced me far higher than they are worth plus he wants to be able to breed one of them again which I disagree with because I feel like although she is a cute mare and is good for kids to ride there are no outstanding qualities in her that should be continued to be bred. While I like the two mares he has and I want to help my friend out who can't really afford to keep them I also am boarding so there is a limit to the number of horses I can reasonably accommodate.
 

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Trainingwise, I'd say 30yo is probably getting too old to be worth the effort training to be ridden. Jumping('real' & frequent jumping, not just the odd log or low rail on a trail) is a different question, tho not so much about age, as others have said. It is hard on any horse & I wouldnt do it with any horse not totally sound & fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
for sure, I don't like to push horses who aren't in shape or healthy to be jumping. I'd be getting them checked over by a Vet before buying too.
 

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11 is certainly not too old. But if you do take these, make up a bill of sale and buy them from your aunt, even if it's for $1 and make sure that she's going to be ok with them being YOUR horses now, and not still trying to influence how you care for them. If you're taking on the effort and expense, you need to make sure they don't come with 'strings attached' or this has a big chance to ruin a family relationship. I've seen it happen.
 

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I think whether or not you can start a horse on jumping depends more on their conformation and what type of shape they are in than their age. I probably wouldn’t start a horse over 25 on fences unless you just need them to pop over a log on trail once and a while, but if The eleven year old is healthy and doesn’t have any injuries, she should be fine to start over fences. I think eleven is generally a pretty good age to start on jumping.
 

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A couple of things come to mind, how much training, schooling has the younger horse had during her life. Not riding but just handling and behaving and good barn manners. Maybe she has had some of this in her younger days, that will make it easier to work with her.

will the two horses stay at their present home or do you plan to move them elsewhere. If they stay at home you will have your Aunt watching everything you do with the horses, this could be a good thing or bad depending on how work with the horses, she might be a great help or get upset with what you do.

These two horses have been together for many years with no other horses around and may be very buddy sour so that's something you may have to deal with. This young mare may have never been separated from her mother and may be very upset if parted, even for a few minutes. Just something to be aware of that may have to be worked through.

AS for jumping you have a lot of work ahead of you before you even get to that point to find out if she will be suitable for that.
LOts of things to consider but if it works well a good thing for you.
 

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Most horses can be trained to do some low jumping. If you are looking to jump higher, or more competitively, then it's hard to say until you try. Around here, people jump all breeds, and all ages, but we don't have a lot of very high level shows.

I will say that four years ago, we bought an Arabian who had a successful career in dressage, but had only done a little jumping, and no show jumping to speak of. He was supposed to be 14, but we learned later that he was actually 16. My daughter started jumping him, and this year, at the age of 20, he is winning division championships in low hunter classes (in fact, it appears they are going to win year-end high points in their division for our entire province), and bringing home lots of ribbons in 2'3" jumper classes. This is their challenge next year since we do not want him to jump higher so instead, they're going to challenge themselves to more difficult courses and with more speed. He has some arthritis in his hocks, but he is on an anti-inflammatory that is show legal, and the vet encouraged us to keep doing what we're doing to keep him moving rather than slowing him down and having him deteriorate. We don't know how much longer he'll be able to compete, but for now, they're having a blast. My point is, 10 and 11 is definitely not too old if a 16 year old can change careers from dressage to show jumping.
 
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