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View Full Version : Spinoff (kinda) Horse Shoping Rant: middle age? age to be jumping by? etc



Couture TB
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:04 PM
Reading the Horse Shoping rant and a 7yr was called 'middle aged'. When did 7 become middle aged? Or is it? I guess I don't call anything middle aged till mid teens. Expecting a 4yr to be doing 2'6 with kinda changes? To me this is asking a lot.

At what age do you start your horse? Then what age over fences? What should they be doing by certain ages?

Myself I don't do any real jumping with horses till they are 4 to 5 year olds. Some of them I don't even start under saddle till they are 4 do to how much they are growing. Some are so up and down on their growing that they miss weeks at a time of training as they are to gangly.

So if you were a buyer would you prefer the horse that was shown and in full time training from 3-4 years old on or the horse that was not started over fences till 5 and is not a finished horse at 7 but will not need as much joint care etc?

Are we pushing the horses to hard now? When did it become ok for their career to be over in their teens? When did it become normal for an 8yr to need Legend, joint injections, and all sorts of meds? Or for some reason are horses not holding up as long as they use to? I remember when the top horses were all in their teens and brought home MULTIPLE medals (in any sport) or were teaching kids and winning until they were late teens. So what is the difference? What are we doing wrong? Is it the breeding? The training? The care? Or have we just gotten to the point that they are a something to be used and then tossed?

Parrotnutz
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:09 PM
I think today most use em and toss em....unfortunately

SaturdayNightLive
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:21 PM
I don't think it's as common as you think to "use them and toss them". My eq horse that I showed in my junior days did everything. He packed me from my very first jumps through the 3'6" in the show ring and maxed out at 4'3" at home. He had done some smaller grands prix when he was younger and was as broke on the flat as they get. I got him when he was 13 and never once had him injected. He is in his 20s now and still 100% sound, happily enjoying his retirement.

Those of us who show do still actually care about our horses. ;) And yes, I still expect them to be doing something by the age of 7.

Couture TB
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:24 PM
By doing do you mean showing? Or at least schooling say 3 foot at home and might be missing changes do to say the rider, or do to the fact that it might be an eventer or dressage horse (that can jump) and the changes do not get added till a certain level?

SaturdayNightLive
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:28 PM
By doing do you mean showing? Or at least schooling say 3 foot at home and might be missing changes do to say the rider, or do to the fact that it might be an eventer or dressage horse (that can jump) and the changes do not get added till a certain level?

I don't mean showing necessarily, but being about show ring ready at some level by that age. A horse trained and working in a different discipline is a whole 'nother issue I think than the horse that hasn't done much of anything. And of course there is a place in the market for horses of all levels of training, but for certain prices, certain things are expected.

Couture TB
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:41 PM
I agree. The only thing that I don't understand is people that feel that the 'middle aged horse' say 7 or 8, that goes correctly w/t/c, can ride out in the field, is jumping around 3ft or more, but is lacking auto changes isn't worth anything as it A does not have auto changes and B has not shown.

hntrjmprpro45
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:48 PM
We start horses around 3, jumping by 4 (2'3"-2'6"), pregreens around age 5-6, green hunters around age 6-7. We have a very light show schedule at age 4 (like 3 shows that year). I have some horses that start a little later, jump a little later, etc depending on their growth (I don't like riding horses if they are still growing in height). I would consider "middle aged" 11-13ish and a senior horse (18+). I still have a 20 year old that I use as a lesson horse for little kids because he is a wonderful packer at 2'.

Lucassb
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:53 PM
I try to treat my horses as individuals - I believe they pretty much tell you what they are ready for, if you pay attention.

That said, I generally find that the ones who are properly started as late three year olds/early fours are a LOT easier than ones who don't do much of anything til they are five or six. They get to liking that life of vacation too much and then it can be hard to install a work ethic. At least that's been my experience. I've not had any issues with long term soundness issues either, but I am pretty religious about having all of my horses regularly evaluated by a good vet and they do all get a good workup before starting any serious work as youngsters - we don't jump anything unless the vet tells us the joints are closed and good to go. We also put quite a lot of flatwork on them so that the introduction is usually not much of a big deal; they already know go forward, come back, turn right, turn left so the fact that there is some little obstacle in the way is really a non issue to them.

My current young horse was imported as a late three year old the season before last. He had been backed and could WTC under saddle (though a bit wiggly) but had never seen as much as a crossrail. He started with serious work in November and was easily and confidently jumping around the baby greens at WEF - yes, with correct changes - in February. He turned four the following month. He spent his four year old year in the 3' pre greens and this past summer (as a five year old) did a few 3'3" classes with no problem. Now he is coming six and will do the first years; the jumps are super easy for him and he can lope the lines with no problem. He is very easy on himself - he's never seen the end of a longe line, and usually at the horseshows we have to WAKE him up from his morning nap to go to the ring. He just got his annual check up from the vet who pronounced him in perfect health, and ready to go.

I've followed a pretty similar process with my other horses; my oldest is now over 20 and still happily toting a child around the 2'6" with only the standard oral joint support (Cosequin) while my coming 11 year old - who jumped the meter thirty's before I got him at 5 - is happy and sound in a pretty intensive program with Cosequin as a preventative plus a shot of Legend if we are going to be doing a particularly big schedule at a week long show.

YMMV

Couture TB
Nov. 29, 2009, 02:53 PM
We start horses around 3, jumping by 4 (2'3"-2'6"), pregreens around age 5-6, green hunters around age 6-7. We have a very light show schedule at age 4 (like 3 shows that year). I have some horses that start a little later, jump a little later, etc depending on their growth (I don't like riding horses if they are still growing in height). I would consider "middle aged" 11-13ish and a senior horse (18+). I still have a 20 year old that I use as a lesson horse for little kids because he is a wonderful packer at 2'.

To me this does not sound bad. I agree, I do not like to do much riding on horses that are still growing in height, to much of a risk to their joints, plus they are so clumsy that both horse and rider could get hurt. On the 3 year olds that do not have tons of growing to do they learn to go w/t/c and hack out before being turned out for the winter. Then the 4 year olds that are not growing much in height learn to jump if they are still growing in height then they do limited learning over fences. I had one youngster that was 15.1 as a 3yr and when I sold him as a 5yr he was almost 16.3 and still had a little bit before his knees were closed, that guy was worked on and off do to the fact that when he grew he was over an inch higher in his butt then the front:lol:

goeslikestink
Nov. 29, 2009, 03:09 PM
i dont jump anything before the gae of 5 as it hasnt finished growing and when starting to jump at aged 5 its a slow process so not to over face the horse or make him sour

Sunny's Mom
Nov. 29, 2009, 03:38 PM
I've had to delay putting my 3.5 year old into serious work because she's in the middle of a growth spurt. So she's still living in a field at her breeder and being ridden lightly in half training. When she's 4 the plan is to bring her into a stall (with turnout) environment and put her into full training. That is when she will get started over jumps too. Hopefully she'll go to some shows next year as a spectator, then she'll start showing at 5 - either in the baby greens or pre-greens, depending on her development.

sptraining
Nov. 29, 2009, 03:40 PM
Something would be middle aged at 7 if it had started it's show career at 4 in the 3', shown every month and not stopped since.

I believe that if you take your time in the early years, you'll have a horse that's happy and sound much longer. Of course it also helps if they're built properly, go on good footing, have not had any major accidents, and are shod correctly.

CBoylen
Nov. 29, 2009, 05:52 PM
A 7 year old at this time of year IS close to middle aged. It's a month away from 8, and it has two years to put a record on it before it's 10 and people start passing on it for something younger. If it's doing nothing then it is way, way behind and is not going to have many years showing at its prime level of competition. Many horses are able to compete into their late teens. Horses that are still very competitive in their late teens are much fewer and far between.
And yes, at this time of year I would expect a four year old to be jumping around a course with changes.
I actually think we expect less of our young horses than we did in the past. First year horses used to be mostly three and four year olds, and there was no such thing as a pregreen horse.

LaraNSpeedy
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:23 AM
I am SO not going to be able to help because this is something I rant about a lot too! I used to train exracers for a living and what made me so mad is they are often physically used up by the time they are 5-6 and yet mentally at their best STARTING age 9. A TB lightly started and with a good dressage basics foundation that is age 8 is a GREAT horse to START training for jumping!

I could share so many stories of horses that mentally were not real trainable until they were over ten years old. So many people will not look at a horse over 10 as if the horse is OLD. Yet it is so relative - and an individual thing.

My 18 year old exracer is retired because he ran 70 x before he was 5 and then did some jumping - was dressage trained through 3rd level after that and then when I had my daughter, I decided to make him just for trail. But I gave lessons in CA and one of the best junior hunters was a 16 hand TB that was 22 years old! If 7 is middle aged, that horse should just have been flat put down huh?

To me, a baby horse is age 2-6 as far as training. Honestly, I do not like to seriously start training until the horse is 4-5 years old. They have JUST matured physically completely by age 6-7 and mentally at 10. So that is equivilent to a person age 21.

I think some professionals who are in this FOR A BUSINESS may look at a 7 year old as middle aged because they are looking at what they can train, show and sell for as much money as possible. Whomever wrote the article either is a business person or got that tidbit from one.

But its like the racing business - I used to work for a TB rehab and I used to say - why cant they race them a little older? And the reply was - its too expensive to train and keep them until they are 5 and then start racing them.

justathought
Nov. 30, 2009, 08:02 AM
A 7 year old at this time of year IS close to middle aged. It's a month away from 8, and it has two years to put a record on it before it's 10 and people start passing on it for something younger. If it's doing nothing then it is way, way behind and is not going to have many years showing at its prime level of competition. Many horses are able to compete into their late teens. Horses that are still very competitive in their late teens are much fewer and far between.
And yes, at this time of year I would expect a four year old to be jumping around a course with changes.
I actually think we expect less of our young horses than we did in the past. First year horses used to be mostly three and four year olds, and there was no such thing as a pregreen horse.

Most of the vets I talked with and most of the literature I have seen speaks to the point that horses - particularly the warmbloods we are all so fond of now - are not done growing until they are 5 - 7 years old. So, there are limitations on what they should be doing. They can absolutely be schooled on the flat and well broke before they are seven. Certainly, they can be doing some jumping - but whether they are physically mature enough to be doing the pre-greens at 7 is really a matter of the individual horse, their physical maturity.

I agree we expect less from young horses than we did yearws ago; but those horses were thoroughbreds who matured younger.

JMHO but not so sure I would want a 4 year old who was already jumping around decent size courses (3' or higher) - it would make me wonder about the wear and tear that would should up later in their career.

bizbachfan
Nov. 30, 2009, 08:39 AM
I do think that some horses seemed to be started to early on jumping and people expect a horse to be showing, winning and seasoned by the time its is six. Each horse is different. My horse was trained mostly low level dressage but often left to do nothing for long periods of time as her breeder/trainer had too many horses. She came to me at age 7 and was mentally not ready for anything other than trail rides (which could be an adventure.) She had never been off the farm until she came to me. Now over a year later she is coming along, she is 8 going on 9. She has not jumped much in her life and has perfect clean legs. She is now jumping up to 3'6" and loving it. She has calmed down and is much more manageable. She has been to two shows and still needs to settle in (I have posted about her show anxiety, but I agree two shows not really enough exposure.) The point is come Jan she is 9years old and has very low mileage and tons of potential. I am not selling her but if I was I expect she would be considered too old.

Back in the 80s when I was showing there were lots of older horses/ponies competing, most horses had a long show career, doesn't seem to be the case any more. I do think starting horses too early and rushing them along can cause them to break down more quickly.

Horseymama
Nov. 30, 2009, 10:32 AM
Remember in the YJC, which is jumpers, and is International (meaning these are the standards that people adhere to all over the world, i.e. Europe, North and South America), the 5 yr. olds jump 3'9", the 6 yr. olds jump 4'3", and the 7/8 yr. olds jump 4'6". I think in the US we jump our horses really small and take a long time to make them compared to the rest of the world.

That being said, each horse is an individual and you have to train it as such. A lot of our young horses show in dressage when they are starting to give them show experience and good training without the pounding of jumping. They are jumped when we feel like they have a good basis in dressage.

We went and watched a big horse show in Europe not long ago (The Tuscany Tour) and there were 200 horses in the 7/8 yr. old class, all jumping 1.40. Do our horses last longer than theirs? I don't know.

I don't have an opinion whether it is right or wrong, but it is interesting to note our general attitude (starting horses later is better) compared to what is happening in the rest of the world.

CrazyDog
Dec. 2, 2009, 08:01 AM
[QUOTE=Horseymama;4528486]I think in the US we jump our horses really small and take a long time to make them compared to the rest of the world.
QUOTE]

In the UK, I am about a year behind other riders with horses the same age as mine. I bought my gelding as a 5 year-old who had done a few shows at 0.9m. He is now 7 and is comfortably jumping around 1.10m but many horses his age are jumping 1.25m classes with their junior and amateur owners.

For many people in the US and Canada, the A/O hunters is the ultimate goal and that may lead to a different training and showing schedule than you see in Europe and the UK.

For what it's worth, in my barn I see less use of supplements and other maintenance treatments and no more soundness issues than I was used to in Canada. That said, there are no horses in the barn older than 13 and people don't seem to expect to compete their horses past about 16.

Lkramer
Dec. 2, 2009, 11:46 AM
As a breeder, I deal with this alot. I have a few that are over 17.3h and did not stop growing until they were 6 ( I kid you not). They also matured mentally very slowly. For this reason, I gave them pasture time to grow up and started in on them very slowly. As 7 or 8 year olds, I can't sell them because they are too green for their age. These horses are also bred impeccably and have a ton of potential to be top show horses. Obviously, I have alot of money invested in them at this point and need a certain price to break even... yet people seem to think they should offer 1/3 of the price since they are "older" and seem to act like they are doing me a favor by making the low ball offer in the first place. Here is the kicker..

I could have started them at 3 and risked the wear on their joints or fried their brains, but it's not something I believe in. I refuse to change that belief because buyers are putting pressure on me to do so. Those horses will be showing into their 20s because of this.

That being said, I do have horses that DO mature quickly. Some are mature enough around 3 to start in and are able to do the young jumper classes at 5 and 6. I don't think these horses are any more capable of winning than my slow growing kids either. I wish others would realize that.

KristieBee
Dec. 2, 2009, 12:04 PM
Reading the Horse Shoping rant and a 7yr was called 'middle aged'. When did 7 become middle aged? Or is it? I guess I don't call anything middle aged till mid teens. Expecting a 4yr to be doing 2'6 with kinda changes? To me this is asking a lot.

At what age do you start your horse? Then what age over fences? What should they be doing by certain ages?

Myself I don't do any real jumping with horses till they are 4 to 5 year olds. Some of them I don't even start under saddle till they are 4 do to how much they are growing. Some are so up and down on their growing that they miss weeks at a time of training as they are to gangly.

So if you were a buyer would you prefer the horse that was shown and in full time training from 3-4 years old on or the horse that was not started over fences till 5 and is not a finished horse at 7 but will not need as much joint care etc?

Are we pushing the horses to hard now? When did it become ok for their career to be over in their teens? When did it become normal for an 8yr to need Legend, joint injections, and all sorts of meds? Or for some reason are horses not holding up as long as they use to? I remember when the top horses were all in their teens and brought home MULTIPLE medals (in any sport) or were teaching kids and winning until they were late teens. So what is the difference? What are we doing wrong? Is it the breeding? The training? The care? Or have we just gotten to the point that they are a something to be used and then tossed?

I think I love you.

findeight
Dec. 2, 2009, 12:23 PM
Waiting to start late and not doing any jumping before age 7 or so does NOT guarantee it will stay sound in later years. Doing more earlier does NOT mean they will be unsound if common sense is used and each treated like an individual.

Despite anecdotal examples, most horses do start to visably age in mid teens-their face dries out, lips can droop and the ribcage drop making the spine more prominent-and changing saddle fit. Most have to step down in height and workload around 16...and you can NOT get decent insurance at a decent price over 17. Because, statistically, they are getting old and more likely to have problems. If that were not true, they'd be trying to sell insurance to you.

So 7 coming 8 is about halfway thru it's prime competition years for a buyer looking for a serious show horse.

Oh...and if they have never been to a show? It will reduce their value at any age. Because it has never seen real show size and style fences. Because no clue how it will react to life on the road and the chaos of the showgrounds. No clue how it will stack up against the competition.