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Australia has one of the largest percentages of 'Wastage' in the racing industry (potentially great horses that are no good for racing and therefore euthinased or sent to slaughter). Alot of young horses are broken through their training even before they get to the racetrack. I am currently working with a trainer who is employed to break in and train thoroughbreds to race as 2 year olds. He does not advocate this type of racing, and does not enjoy having these young horses ridden whilst they are still so underdeveloped. So my question is, what are the dangers in riding a 16month old horse?
 

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well i could be wrong ere but i was under the impression that horses bones and joints are still under development until about 5 yrs old and breaking them to saddle early could hinder development or damage them physically. again i could be wrong
 

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Ruined joints, stunted growth, stress fractures, immature brains that 'fizzle out' when pushed because it's limit, sour horses....

I'm an aussie too and we most certainly do have a huge wastage of tb race horses. They will breed any tb to any tb to produce another 'any' tb with the hopes that it will be a 'pharlap' and go all the way. Break the poor ****** before it hits 2, gallop it full pelt and bash it till it goes as fast as it's poor immature, open jointed legs can carry it. And when it breaks down or doesnt win a race, it gets a a bullet in the head if it's lucky.
 

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well i could be wrong ere but i was under the impression that horses bones and joints are still under development until about 5 yrs old and breaking them to saddle early could hinder development or damage them physically. again i could be wrong
Nope you're totally right. Bones are still quite soft, and joints are very 'open' still, they have no fused yet, so any hard work can be extremely detrimental.
Tb's do mature earlier than many other breeds, but at the intensity of work that they are expected to perform at by the age of a mere 2 years, no body can tell me that a horse of that age no matter the breed is physically mature enough to gallop full pelt many times a week on a hard track. That is just crazy. And unfortunately. that is racing.
 

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Unfortunately, that's pretty much it. There is a lot of controversy over riding the 2-3 year old horse, but the fact is that riding a horse at that age isn't likely to damage joints - the joints are closing by that age, and usually closed between 2 and 3 years old. After that, it's the spine that's still closing and if that is damaged, you don't often see the result of it until later in life. It can be a dehabilitating injury as it progresses, but often won't result in an immediate and blatant breakdown.

There is virtually no chance that a 16 month old colt has closed joints. And working them so extremely hard almost guarantees them to break down from those open joints, or cause such significant damage to those joints that they break down later in life.

And as Kayty said, the mental breakdowns are horrible as well. A baby at that age shouldn't be thinking about hard work - we fight daily to stop 5 year old children from working in sweat shops, so it's pretty sickening that we don't realize it's exactly what we're doing to a year old horse.
 

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That was an excellent article!!!
 

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It is in my opinion that starting 2yr olds under saddle is a good idea depending on the horse of course : ) Some have the build for it and can handle bearing weight for a few minutes at a time. I do not agree with running the legs off these baby TB's though.......it's such a waste and in my opinion abuse.
 

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It is in my opinion that starting 2yr olds under saddle is a good idea depending on the horse of course : ) Some have the build for it and can handle bearing weight for a few minutes at a time. I do not agree with running the legs off these baby TB's though.......it's such a waste and in my opinion abuse.
Yes of course, starting some 2 year olds is a great idea, at 2 most horses are getting to that horrible cheeky stage haha! They need something to think about, learn to occupy their head space. But only very light, gentle work. Taking things slowly.
Race horse are more often than not fully broken. They are taught to have a saddle thrown on their back, accept a bridle and a bit in their mouth. And then to just run as fast as they possibly can.
Hence the reason any horse i take ott I like to basically re-break. They get a let down period of AT LEAST a month in the paddock with a friend of two and i don't touch them.
After then, back to total basics, getting backed, lunging etc. I find they are like any typical babies when you do that, they just don't understand.
 

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It's funny because I always think about these year old babies being run into the ground, and if they survive their 2 and 3 year old years, they're probably running as cheap claimers up into as old as 7 years old. And yet, we still turn out a LOT of sound horses that go on to other careers.

It kind of makes me wonder how damaging it REALLY can be to do light work on a 2-3 year old horse. And I mean the kind of horse you're really not likely to see much attitude or buck out of - a horse that's worked in light sessions, no tight circles, not long periods of time, only a couple of times a week.

I know it's PREFERENTIAL if we all waited until horses were 6 years old to be ridden, but any 2-3 year old horse I know that was started good has never had problems. The only problems I ever hear about are when people start riding long yearlings, either racehorses or stock horses for example and really riding them into the ground before they've even BEGUN to fuse.

As long as you take it slow and easy, and have a good head on your shoulders, I don't see a ton of harm being done in riding the average, well matured 2-3 year old horse for the first time.
 

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I started my TB when he was 2 1/2....and I mean we went reeeeal slow. I got on and just walked him around the arena in both directions for about 20 minutes a couple times a week and then I turned him out for the winter and we picked up at 3 years old the following year. I didn't even canter him till he was 4. He's always been fine.

I look at my little 11 month old filly now and I just couldn't imagine getting on her in 6 months. She's sooo little and dainty! That just seems insane to get on any horse that young.
 
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