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I generally don't even get on my horses til their at least 3 yrs old because I'm worried for their joints although I don't work them hard at all. I rarely bring them to a trot when I first start riding. What do you guys think? The Breeds I'd be riding is a APHA filly, she's about 14.2-.3 hhs right now. and the other filly is an app x arab cross about 14.1-.2hhs. The paint is medium built while the app is fairly stocky. I wouldnt be trotting them at all but just to walk around to get them used to it. what do you think?
 

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I started light rides on my 2.5 year old Paint filly this fall. She'll be 3 years old in about 3 months and I've put maybe a dozen rides on her so far. She seems to be coping well. Between groundwork and round pen work, I'm probably only on her for about 10-15 minutes in total each session. We've only worked on brief amounts of jogging maybe half a dozen times. I'm more concerned with her learning her cues and responding to the bit.

It also depends on the temperment of your horse I think - light rides on a 2.5 year old isn't harmful, but if they decide to throw a temper tantrum and buck you out, then you DO have to consider the damage being done when you're slamming into an undeveloped spine in a bucking fit. Hence why I keep my rides so short and sweet with Jynx - she's totally laid back, and level headed enough that the chance of it happening is slim to none at this point.
 

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It depends on the horse, if I was to start one. Personally, I won't get on any horse until they're at least three. But one also has to consider the size and breed of the horse. The bigger/heavier the horse, the longer it takes for their bones to finish fusing; a 17 hand thoroughbred may not finish growing until eight! The vertibrae are the last thing to fuse as well, so it's especially appalling for me when I see really young horses jumping, let alone just trotting and walking.
I also take into consideration the horse's temperment and *ahem* intelligence level. It's a true fact that some horses just aren't mature enough in the mind to understand having a rider on their back.
 

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i usually get on them as a 2yo before they get huge. ride them for a few weeks & throw them out for a few months to grow.

also keep it mind that walking with a rider is hard for a youngster. i would rather w/t/c for 20-30 min than walk for an hour.
 

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I just put about 20 rides on my 2 yr old APHA gelding this fall. (He was 2 1/2 yrs at the time.) During our rides we did walk, jog, trot, canter, forehand pivots, hindquarter pivots, sidepassing, backing, stopping, steering, and even started on some lateral work. We went out on trail rides in the woods. We rode down the road with cars & trucks whizzing by. We rode out alone through the fields down to the pond. I even took him to a show for the walk-trot classes and we ended up placing. I don't feel I pushed him too fast or too hard. All of these events took place over the course of 5 months & I never rode him more than 2x a week or longer than 1 hr. at a time.

I think the more you can expose your horse to during the initial starting under saddle process, the better the horse will be. If you take it slow and avoid progressing, the horse seems to regress. I've started horses both ways & I much prefer the results I get when I treat the young horse as I would expect him to be if he were a trained horse.
 

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My friend has a 14.2 hand qh he's pretty stocky 850-900lbs, but shes around 200lbs. So she asked me to break him for her sometimes soon. We'll see how that goes. I think hes around 2 1/2 or 3.

My qh probably wont get over 15 hh (knock on wood.) I have no problems riding him in a year or so when hes two, for a few rides a month. Hes going to be stock and Im about 115lbs so he can handle it. If I were to ride him a few times a week I would wait till he's three. I personally want to do more then a walk, so I'll wait till hes three, for more regular riding.

Do you know how much the horse weighs?
 

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The money is in the futurities--2 yr olds. The reason is that old return on investment thing--as usual it always comes back to money.

There is no question that starting a horse early is a good idea. There is also no doubt that asking a horse to perform at the levels it takes to win at 2 years old is not the best for the horse.

So if you are not going for the futurity money start em early and build them slow and life is good.
 

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You know, I don't have a huge problem with riding a two year old. I've started some of my two year olds and left others until they were 4. If I do ride them at two it's very light riding for a month or two then they usually get turned out for the winter.
 

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My daughter is starting a horse for the first time and we're trying to figure out how to do it right. The horse is a solid paint bred filly with mostly QH in her lineage was born in May 2008, so she is 20 months old but considered a two year this year. Her sire and dam were around 15 hands and she is around 14.2-14.3 right now, roughly the same size as her 8 year old gelding that she rides. I would estimate she's around 800lbs at this point. My daughter is around 170lbs I think.

As a yearling, my daughter trained her for a Yearling Performance series at our local county show. It consisted of a Longe Line class and a Trail in Hand class where the yearling is lead through a trail pattern on a halter. My daughter put in a lot of work with her horse and they won that series.

During that time training together she did a lot of longeing and ground training with the horse that seemed to make her horse much more calm and easygoing with my daughter. After that show series was over last year my daughter started doing some desensitization and light longeing on her with the saddle on.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, she has ridden her in the round pend 3 times for about 20 minutes each time. Just doing the basics of walk, trot, stop, turn and back. She's doing this in part to compete with the horse in our local 4H's Two Year Old Western Pleasure class later this year.

I'm wondering if this is safe for the horse's health. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

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I think MacabreMikolaj hit the nail on the head. You can't look at is strictly as just age being the only factor when desiding when to start your youngster. Breed, size, age, and mental maturity all play huge parts in that. I fyour 2 year old is going to light into a bucking fit, then the rider attempting to ride it out is going to put ALOT more stress on the spine than walking around on the calm 2 year old that's had all the necessary ground work put in where accepting a rider is the next step.

I started most of my welsh ponies at 2 years old, but I'd raised them from birth and put the time into their ground work - never saw even a crow hop out of them. I waited til my Clyde/TB filly was more than 2 1/2 though because I didn't think she was mentally ready yet. You have to look at all the factors and deside for yourself. If you have doubts, get a vet out to assess how they're growing and if it's safe to start light rides.
 

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Hmmm...3 to 4 years old is a better time to start riding...If I was you I would just start lunging her to get her some muscels built up, and start giving her some ground manners, (if you haven't already).

My horse was broke at age four, (he is still four years old) and he is a great ride, I think he would be a great lession horse..Horses broke at age 2 tend (not always) get weak joints..I have friends and know people with horses that are pretty much lame because they were broke at age 2 and were ridden tough when younger, they ether need injections (ones that are allowed) or need speacial shoes.
 

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I think that is about right Evening Shadows. The only bad thing is when they have that ground work but go nuts when you get on anyways. We had one that decided she was going to buck. Her mom is a good riding horse now, but my step-dad said she was the same way as a youngster. We do work with ours off and on from birth to breaking. They learn to halter and lead as weanlings, as yearlings they come up and get feet trimmed and learn to tie, they also begin coming up to just stand around tied with a saddle and bridle on, then at two we get on. Most of the don't buck, but there are the random ones that will.
 

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Remember you are training a horse each and every time you are in control of their feet. We start the training process from the day they are born.

The question is when is the horse physically able to support the weight of a rider. Depends on the horse and the weight of the rider.

I do not agree that when the horse is started under saddle that you should only walk them. I have fixed lots of horses who walk and trot like champs but go off like a roman candle when you push them into the canter/lope (trying to be politically correct!!). Get them moving in all gaits from the beginning and life is good.
 

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LolHorse - That is definately true of horses that are worked hard as youngsters to get them prepped for the showring. I for one, could never do it.

However, I would be more then curious what the studies are on breaking out the 2-3 year old nice and easy. I'm of the opinion that most people I know anyway start light riding in the 2 year old year and often save any more difficult work as a 3-4 year old. And most people I know that own trail horses or non-show animals don't seem to have the problems with joint weakness and lameness.

Jarrett - it sounds like your daughter is doing just fine! I don't know if I would personally ride a horse that young, but if she's of a lighter build and keeping her sessions so short and sweet, then she's got the makings of a good trainer. It's a crying shame that people are forced to do things based on a showring standard, so good for her taking it nice and quiet.
 

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I backed my gelding(colt at the time) when he was 25 months. So just over two years old. I got on him bareback a few times, just getting led around. After a few weeks I started light jogging and a lope in a straight line once or twice, and kept that going until fall. I don't ride over the winter, so he had the winter of besides a few bareback rides. Then I started riding in the spring again as a 3 year old, and he got gelded in May. I gave him about 3-4 weeks off after he got gelded and brought him back up. Late summer we did a few trail rides, and a few more into fall. He again has the winter off except for a few bareback rides and maybe a trail ride or two. Come spring(March ish) I'll start riding 3-4 times a week and then his first show is in April. I think it all depends on the horse and the mental and physical maturity of them. Chopper was ready, and when he was 2 he was stocky and abot 14.2 ish. Lots of people start babies as long yearlings, around 19-20 months, get on them a few times and throw them back in the pasture for the winter.
 

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IMHO, a person can successfully start a 2 year old. It all depends on what you would be doing. Since you said that you weren't planning to trot, I don't see a problem with it. The most important thing is knowing when to stop, when they have had enough (either physically or mentally).
 
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