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Thread: Is 3 too young? questions questions!!

  1. #21
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    I started sitting on Una when she was about 3 and a half and only broke her a few months ago when she was turning 4. She is still not in "proper" work, only hacking a couple of times a week as im not wanting to rush her and she still has some filling out and maturing to do!

    If she is just turned 3 i personally would not be backing her just yet. Wait til the end of the year before you start riding her There is loads you can be doing in the meantime though - all the groundwork that will make the actual process of backing her SO much easier. I concentrated on getting Una out on the roads (in hand and from another horse), voice commands and a bit of long reining. She was a bit dumb when it came to long reining and did not understand what was going on at all So we didnt do too much of that

    Hunting is definately a good idea (i'd love to take Una hunting!!) as it will teach her the canter, and manners in a crowd of horses. My Charlie was backed at 2 and hunted over in Ireland before being brought over here. It was too young IMO, but made him much more mature and trainable as he has that experience of being out and about somewhere exciting
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  2. #22
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    Yes, in my opinion, 3 is too young to back a horse.

    I think it's one thing to sit on their back for a very short time (literally like a minute), but another to start them in their ridden lives. I have a part bred NF who's coming up for 3 next month, I wouldn't dream of starting him. He's so immature and has so much growing to do. Even if he was mature looking I still couldn't do it, they can look mature and as well muscled as you like but their bones still fuse around similar ages. Here's the list that I took from http://www.womenandhorses.com/newsle...06january.html

    The Schedule of Growth-Plate Conversion to Bone

    The process of converting the growth plates to bone goes from the bottom of the animal up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal's back you look, the later. The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What that means is that the coffin bones get no taller after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That's the first one. In order after that:

    Short pastern - top and bottom between birth and 6 months.
    Long pastern - top and bottom between 6 months and one year.
    Cannon bone - top and bottom between 8 months and 1.5 years
    Small bones of the knee - top and bottom of each, between 1.5 and 2.5 years
    Bottom of radius-ulna - between 2 and 2.5 years
    Weight-bearing portion of glenoid notch at top of radius - between 2.5 and 3 years
    Humerus - top and bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years
    Scapula - glenoid or bottom (weight-bearing) portion – between 3.5 and 4 years
    Hindlimb - lower portions same as forelimb
    Hock - this joint is "late" for as low down as it is; growth plates on the tibial and fibular tarsals don't fuse until the animal is four (so the hocks are a known "weak point" - even the 18th-century literature warns against driving young horses in plow or other deep or sticky footing, or jumping them up into a heavy load, for danger of spraining their hocks).
    Tibia - top and bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years
    Femur - bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years; neck, between 2.5 and 3 years; major and 3rd trochanters, between 2.5 and 3 years Pelvis - growth plat the points of hip, peak of croup (tubera sacrale), and points of buttock (tuber ischii), between 3 and 4 years.
    And what do you think es onis last? The vertebral column, of course. A normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum. These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later the last fusions will occur. And for a male - is this a surprise? - you add six months. So, for example, a 17-hand Thoroughbred or Saddlebred or Warmblood gelding may not be fully mature until his 8th year - something that owners of such individuals have often told me that they "suspected").


    Someone mentioned if it's a keeper then take your time. I personally couldn't do it to any horse, I couldn't increase the risk of potential joint problems for my own selfish need to ride. I know it sounds harsh, but I really do have strong views on it!
    I know what it's like to have to wait, I had my beautiful mare PTS after very traumatic colic. I then got a 6 month old foal, so I've had to wait for quite some time. But if he's still not looking ready (I know he'll mentally be ready), I wouldn't hesitate to put off backing for another year even though I'm a light rider (8 stone).

  3. #23
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    thanks, that's really interesting

  4. #24
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    Sorry in my above post is meant to say
    But if he's still not looking ready (I know he'll mentally be ready) when he's 4, I wouldn't hesitate to put off backing for another year even though I'm a light rider

    NP - it is interesting isn't it! It just show's how little relevance how they look has! The amount of times I hear 'he's very mature looking, he'll be fine' and I want to show them that chart, maybe I should print it out!

  5. #25
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    Thanks for that Moonrider.

    Madlady you are very brave indeed. I doubt i could stay on Libby if she went into hyper- trot- mode plus i am hoping that she will keep her enormous fly bucks to herself, but out hunting at such a young age...... I like the sound of short hacks this year and schooling next year. She won't be 3 until July so i'm aiming for september. Fingers crossed.

  6. #26
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    I'm with Moonrider on this. Personally, I still think of a 3-year-old horse as a baby.

    We wouldn't make a make a 3-year-old child wear a backpack laden with heavy books every day, because we'd worry about hurting them or causing back problems. But we're perfectly happy to put an adult human on a 3-year-old horse and expect it to carry them around, without thinking about what it might be doing to the horse's back

    I understand why people get impatient about starting to ride their horse, but as far as I'm concerned the horse should come first. To me it's a no-brainer really - if you don't want to have to wait before you can ride your horse, don't buy a baby

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by joosie View Post
    if you don't want to have to wait before you can ride your horse, don't buy a baby
    I think that taking your time and not rushing to ride your youngster does pay off i agree and of course the horses well being should always come first every time. I'm looking to start backing this year and i really don't think that some gentle walking out with me on her is going to ruin her at all. I'm more than happy to wait until my babies are ready.

  8. #28
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    Late foals in my experience are a bit slower to mature than earlier foals. For a horse turning 3 in the summer I would definitely wait until spring of its 4th year to back. However I think youngsters should be out and about - they should be leading in hand - stand, walk, trot -, long reining in walk and trot, introducing canter on safe ground when they are ready, they should be led/long reined along the bridleways, over coloured poles, over tarpaulin, over little logs ... All these things mean that the day you actually get on your horse, they tend to shrug and carry on as normal. My horse is a keeper so I'm taking it slow. Yes I get a bit jealous when I see horses of his age jumping nicely, etc, but in my heart of hearts I know he's not yet ready. He's a late maturer. His body and brain are not yet in the right place so we work slowly towards our goals and enjoy the process. Other horses seem to be pretty much ready to go by 3 and I have nothing against light wort at that age. But only you know your horse to make these decisions!



  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soot View Post
    My horse is a keeper so I'm taking it slow. Yes I get a bit jealous when I see horses of his age jumping nicely, etc, but in my heart of hearts I know he's not yet ready. He's a late maturer. His body and brain are not yet in the right place so we work slowly towards our goals and enjoy the process.!
    Me too. I'm in no hurry for Giddy to do this, that and the other. I hope to have him for the next 15years at least so don't care if all we do atm is hack, a tiny bit of showing/dressage etc.. we (hopefully) have YEARS to do everything I want to do.

  10. #30

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    I personally would do the playing as Cer described but not back until 4. A friend's 3 year old is phsyically and mentally immature (trotter X) and his tibial growth plates have not yet met-only found out because the judge at the inhand youngstock show said he was stiff-whilst another friend's Welsh D is mature (to look at) but I think it's a bit iffy to back at 3.

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