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View Full Version : How Soon to Jump a Four Year Old...Horse not Child ; )



ballisticgirl
Oct. 28, 2011, 06:34 PM
Split verdict on how hard to push a four year old to jump. I've heard both sides, read what the pros recommend. I am gathering information here and appreciate your experiences and best practices.

What are your thoughts on warmbloods? We all acknowledge take longer to mature and grow.

Vetvivi
Oct. 28, 2011, 06:45 PM
The video is private! I'd love to see your boy as I have a 4 yr old myself :) We jump her twice a week over very low x's and verticals. She has so much scope though so I'm itching for her to mature more! :D Best of luck with yours!!

JoZ
Oct. 28, 2011, 06:51 PM
My 4yo had his first jumping lesson yesterday! :yes::winkgrin:

It's a good thing I'm not in charge of his training because I'm so excited I might be imprudent (just kidding, his welfare is of primary concern). I'd be surprised if my trainer ends up jumping him more than 1X per week to start. He has never been asked to free jump; went right to a wee X. He is a May '07 APHA gelding.

ballisticgirl
Oct. 28, 2011, 06:52 PM
Oh, no! I thought I fixed the video! Should be public now.

ballisticgirl
Oct. 28, 2011, 06:58 PM
vetvivi...I know it is so much fun to think about how they will mature. I just don't want to burn him out nor hurt those growing stifles/spine, etc. : )

Foxtrot
Oct. 28, 2011, 07:07 PM
I'm ultra conservative when it comes to jumping greenies. :lol:

Perhaps something for you to consider is if you are keeping the youngster for you, if so for how long? Permanently? If not, when are you planning on selling? I think certain factors sometimes determine when people begin jumping their horses.

ballisticgirl
Oct. 28, 2011, 07:09 PM
I want to keep him forever! : )

Vetvivi
Oct. 28, 2011, 07:14 PM
He's not a Cabalito baby by any chance is he?

grandprixjump
Oct. 28, 2011, 07:25 PM
And keeping him forever means till he's 3 legged lame at 9yo.

I just don't understand why people want to jump a horse that isn't even close to done growing, then bitch up a storm on WHY their 5yo lives on bute, and can't stand to move at 9.
:no::no::no:

ballisticgirl
Oct. 28, 2011, 07:28 PM
hey grandprixjump..

Are totally against 5 Year Olds in the YJC? What about Six Year Olds?

I have backed him off of jumping entirely. I want him to be a happy and pain free adult.

besttwtbever
Oct. 28, 2011, 11:00 PM
I know people have said this before but I wish COTH had a 'like' button.


I'm ultra conservative when it comes to jumping greenies. :lol:



I just don't understand why people want to jump a horse that isn't even close to done growing, then bitch up a storm on WHY their 5yo lives on bute, and can't stand to move at 9.
:no::no::no:

I am 110% with you Foxtrot and grandprixjump. I didn't jump my boy until he was well into his 5 year old year, and even then I was VERY conservative. He's 13 now and has absolutely NO sign of arthritis anywhere in his body. In fact he still feels like he did when he was 5 (maybe a bit more trained though :D). He's never been on any joint supplements and he's been sound his whole life (except after time off as he has always had a weak stifle).

On the other hand my other boy is 16 (only 3 years older) and is so crippled from hard use as a young horse ( he wasn't mine all along :( ) that he'll never be able to be ridden again (per the vet).

These are only my two examples, there may be horses out there who were started at 2 and 3 and jumped that are doing well in their older years. I really hope so, but I have my doubts that there are very many of them.

Even though I'm young IMHO I go with the old school thought in that I won't even sit on a horse until they're at least 4 and I flat out refuse to jump them until they're at least 5. But they know absolutely EVERYTHING ELSE by the time I get on them (ground driving, light lunging and round pen work, solid voice commands, clip, load, bathe, lead, EVERYTHING).

I think this (http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf) article is EXCELLENT.

bojolove
Oct. 29, 2011, 12:27 AM
I know people have said this before but I wish COTH had a 'like' button.





I am 110% with you Foxtrot and grandprixjump. I didn't jump my boy until he was well into his 5 year old year, and even then I was VERY conservative. He's 13 now and has absolutely NO sign of arthritis anywhere in his body. In fact he still feels like he did when he was 5 (maybe a bit more trained though :D). He's never been on any joint supplements and he's been sound his whole life (except after time off as he has always had a weak stifle).

On the other hand my other boy is 16 (only 3 years older) and is so crippled from hard use as a young horse ( he wasn't mine all along :( ) that he'll never be able to be ridden again (per the vet).

These are only my two examples, there may be horses out there who were started at 2 and 3 and jumped that are doing well in their older years. I really hope so, but I have my doubts that there are very many of them.

Even though I'm young IMHO I go with the old school thought in that I won't even sit on a horse until they're at least 4 and I flat out refuse to jump them until they're at least 5. But they know absolutely EVERYTHING ELSE by the time I get on them (ground driving, light lunging and round pen work, solid voice commands, clip, load, bathe, lead, EVERYTHING).

I think this (http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf) article is EXCELLENT.

Interesting article, very informative, easy to understand and logical. Since it seems acceptable to "ride" a horse starting at age 4, but they are not fully mature until 6+ years, what do you think would be acceptable to do at age 4 and 5 so as to not cause physical injuries? Is it acceptable to do arena work w/t/c, maybe some ground poles, with a 4-5 year old for 30+ min a day, 5-6 days a week, in your opinion? It just isn't very clear in the article so thought I would get some thoughts on this.

PNWjumper
Oct. 29, 2011, 01:42 AM
I absolutely don't buy into the idea that jumping a horse as a 4 year old is going to increase their tendency towards being crippled later. What I do believe can impact that longevity is inapproprately pounding on them for an extended period during those early years which is exacerbated even more when a tailored conditioning program doesn't accompany the jumping. I think a program tailored for a young and immature body can help to strengthen and prep a horse for more jumping efforts as they get older and contribute to greater longevity and soundness as they move through the years.

Another (often overlooked) factor that I think plays into "teens" (and by that I mean 6/7/8yos) living on bute is conformation that's predisposed to breaking down under pressure. And, of course, poor shoeing, poor horse management, and a whole host of other factors beyond just jumping early. I think the early jumping is the easy thing to focus on, but rarely the actual cause of the lameness. It's like saying an overweight person is that way because of McDonald's. Well, no, that may have contributed, but really it's because of an unhealthy way of living that could have been due to diet, exercise, or even genetics. I think a chronically lame young horse is often that way because of an unfortunate congruence of factors that include too much pounding with too little appropriate conditioning, poor diet/shoeing/bodywork/vet (and so on), and a horse that might be predisposed to breaking down already.

I've always jumped mine starting in the late 3/early 4 year old time frame. I haven't ever had a horse that ended up crippled (or impacted negatively) in the long run. I have a baby I started over jumps as an early 4yo who's 18 years old and still jumping around 3'6" fences. My old Grand Prix horse packed around amateurs in the 3' and 3'6" jumpers into his 20s (when he colicked and died a still fully sound horse). My current mare (formerly my high AO horse) is still jumping around 4'3" courses at age 15. And I have many other examples. I'm not saying my lack of issues "proves" anything definitively....just that early jumping does not = crippled 7yo (or 10 yo or 15yo...).

I have a 4yo (July 2007) right now who just did his first 3'3" jumper course a couple of weekends ago. But prior to that course he did maybe a grand total of 4 of 5 fences set at 3'3" (over the last few months). When I ride him I jump a total of maybe 3 or 4 jumps at a time. I don't believe in drilling a baby and I also don't believe in working on myself over jumps on a baby (meaning I never repeat a jump because *I* want to improve something).

One other thing I take into account is how easy it is for a horse to jump a given height. My baby is extremely scopey and still just "canters" over 3'3" (and even the single 3'6" jumps) we've done. I'm not worried about it being terribly impactful on his body as long as the number of jumps are kept low. And I'll stress that the whole program is important. My guy showed that he could lope around a little 3'3" course and now he's basically done jumping for the winter and we'll focus on strengthening his body to prep for next season via flatwork.

sansibar
Oct. 29, 2011, 01:52 AM
In Europe I have seen and ridden 4 year olds broke and jumping 2 weeks into their training. I have also seen them wait months before jumping. Some of the 4 year olds I rode were better schooled than what I considered a "solid" horse back here. I was showing a 4 year old in the 1.0m and 1.10m over there and he was 2 months into training, he was better trained than MANY horses I have ridden too. It is based very much on the individual horse, certain horses can handle more. Considering these people have an 18 year old horse still winning the 3* GPs and several other mid-teen horses competing and winning, and not to mention the countless number of world cup horses they sold who competed and are still competing and winning well into their teens, I think it is safe to say that this does not affect them in the long run, if it is done properly.

Madeline
Oct. 29, 2011, 08:22 AM
I absolutely don't buy into the idea that jumping a horse as a 4 year old is going to increase their tendency towards being crippled later. What I do believe can impact that longevity is inapproprately pounding on them for an extended period during those early years which is exacerbated even more when a tailored conditioning program doesn't accompany the jumping. I think a program tailored for a young and immature body can help to strengthen and prep a horse for more jumping efforts as they get older and contribute to greater longevity and soundness as they move through the years.

Another (often overlooked) factor that I think plays into "teens" (and by that I mean 6/7/8yos) living on bute is conformation that's predisposed to breaking down under pressure. And, of course, poor shoeing, poor horse management, and a whole host of other factors beyond just jumping early. I think the early jumping is the easy thing to focus on, but rarely the actual cause of the lameness..

Allow me a sec to zip up my flame suit and agree with you 100%.

It isn't the jumping at 3 and 4 and 5, it's the pounding and pounding and endless lungeing and pounding some more over small fences week after week after week that leads to that bute dependence and early retirement (which would have been earlier without the bute). Not to mention the preferred state of obesity which seems prevalent in hunterland.

RodeoHunter
Oct. 29, 2011, 09:42 AM
What is everyone's defintion of pounding? High number of fences on one session / frequency per week? And lunging once a week is not considered 'endless lunging', right? I'm just starting to hop my 3.5 year old over little things and while I'm working with a very competent trainer, I do tend to obsess about this.

Madeline
Oct. 29, 2011, 10:45 AM
Well, since I already have my flame suit on, here's what we did when we had a lot of field hunters, most of who showed and hunter trialed and eventually ran over timber.

3-4-5 y.o's off the track. We got them in May, and since they were broke to ride, we started right in on the flat. When we could stop and steer reliably, we started trotting over small fences. Since we didn't really want to spend a lot of time on horses that were not going to be able to do what they ultimately needed to do, the goal was 4' in 4 weeks. ( Not for the 3's) They jumped a little bit every day , mostly trotting . When we knew that they were going to work out, they continued 5 or so days a week with schooling, still mostly trotting, out across country over fences of varying small sizes, and in schooling rings belonging to us or all the neighbors. When they started volunteering a canter stride, that was to the good.

They all started going out cub hunting in mid-August. 3's hunted through October, olders were expected to join the rotation, hunting one or two days a week unless the going was slippery. These horses showed a bit the next spring and fall to get used to more exciting venues, than back to hunting.

Some of our neighbors people pushed their young horses faster than this, some slower. These horses lasted a long time on a regular schedule of hunting, fitness training and turnout.

To answer the question of pounding? Lungeing is tough on joints. We never lunged once we could ride. Jumping lots ( 20-30) of fences every day on hard ground is pounding. Lots of 3' or lower fences on good going is OK.

JMO.

AQHAHunterJumper
Oct. 29, 2011, 11:13 AM
I didn't even sit on my mare until she was 6. Not because I planned on waiting that long, but that's just how it turned out. She had kind of been my pet since she was a baby. She was fully grown and filled out (pony). She is now 9 and and has hock problems... there is no reason she should have any problems... started slow.. lived outside... no reason she should have problems.. but she does. It's not just how early a horse is started.. some horses will have problems regardless.

CHT
Oct. 29, 2011, 04:57 PM
I think there are also risks with waiting too long; isn't there benefit to having the horse doing its intended job when still developing?

I agree that overdoing the number of jumps per session, or asking for tough turns is more risky to the horse than jumping a 4 year old lightly and sporatically.