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Age to back baby horses

(9 Posts)
Lucyinthepie Thu 04-Aug-11 19:25:37

skeletal maturation

Just to pick up on a discussion that arose from a topic now deleted... I find this article really interesting. It takes some careful reading, but gives a very persuasive argument for the fact that ALL horses, regardless of breed, mature skeletally at the same rate. The general conclusion is that it is best not to sit on them until they are four years old.

I thought I'd put it up for others, it's a handy one to refer to from time to time. smile

Pixel Thu 04-Aug-11 22:30:08

Oh have I missed an <ahem> interesting thread?

I think I can guess how it went.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Thu 04-Aug-11 22:31:03

I didnt know it got deleted, what happened? You would expect that in AIBU but not so often in the tackroom! confused

Pixel Thu 04-Aug-11 22:38:14

Don't know, I've only just switched my laptop on. I hate it when I miss stuff!

Loshad Thu 04-Aug-11 22:50:34

missed it too. whilst that was an intersting article it was very american (drugs are permitted in american racing not in uk for eg) and a little odd in parts - one must not bacl a horse until it can back out of a trailer - very usa, personally hate rear unload trailers with a vengence.
Have to add that whilst my sympathies are with late backing there was some very compelling research (though funded by racing industry) that i read a couple of years ago about bone density and bone maturation that actually suggested regular and gradual exercise from an early age gave the best outcome!

kayb123 Fri 05-Aug-11 09:11:05

Im backing my boy at 3 yrs - but i am doing this for a reason as i feel he needs the basic in place before he gets bigger/stronger. He is already 17h as a 2yrs old but well grown and entire. (cutting late on VET'S advice) as one ball slightly smaller/higher up. But he will only be very lighty schooled over the next year before any real work/fun rides.

Lucyinthepie Sat 06-Aug-11 10:12:48

According to Horse and Hound forum, the racing industry "study" had been widely discredited, but I'm looking and can't find evidence. They of course have a huge stake in trying to prove that what they do is right and best for the horses. Given enough space and company, young horses give themselves enough regular and gradual exercise, they don't need the weight of a person on their back, or schooling.
The Ranger article is American, but the basic information on skeletal maturation is still there, regardless of what we think about rear unload trailers. (All of my horses reverse out of trailers even if there is a front ramp. They are used to it and it's no problem for them).
I used to back horses regularly, not so much now I'm older. My view is that size shouldn't be an issue, and with the right preparation it simply isn't. I wouldn't school a 3 year old at all, if I had to do anything it would be short rides out at a walk. I'm very happy to agree to disagree on that one though, as in my view 3 years old is a heap better than 2 years old!
Deciding to only start horses at 4 years old is a huge shift for many of us, I can't see that changing any time soon.
The thread that had been deleted was from a poster trying to sell a 2 year old cob that was going well in harness and under saddle. And others similar. Of course the argument was that the owner had been doing this for centuries and knew what he was doing. Having seen my big cob put to sleep far too young last October, victim to increasing joint problems and arthritis, I would beg strongly to differ. I know he was broken and working as a two year old, I have seen photos of him then and he was tiny. When mature he was a massive strong beast. When horses are started too young (I'm not talking super-produced racehorses) they tend not to use their hind end well. They "pull" themselves along from the front. My cob's problems started in his shoulders, and down one front leg, the vet said it was very common in big horses that had been broken too young.

kayb123 Sun 07-Aug-11 10:13:28

interesting reading, again i know people who have broken 'big' horses in at two, and encourge me to do the same!! which as i have mentioned i would rather wait to at least 3yrs. Though as much as i would like the world to stop breaking horses at 2yrs or less i dont think this will ever happen - i.e on the dragon driving site you will see plenty of 2 yrs under saddle/harness.
Though when i mentioned schooling - i didnt mean doing endless circles or balancing lessons as just way to much - plenty of long reing and bacis stop/start/left and right.
But i am one to listen to others people views and comments and do take things on board. smile
and im sorry to hear your experiance of your cob and his injury.

Fennijer Thu 11-Aug-11 17:32:00

A lot of people on my yard have told me i should be backing my 3yo now, but my instructor (former chief riding instructer for the household cavalry!) has told me to wait until next spring (when he will be 4) he thinks my boy still has a lot more growing to do, so better to leave him to grow.

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