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Older horses moving down the career ladder -- how sound necessary for beginners?

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  • Older horses moving down the career ladder -- how sound necessary for beginners?

    I am wondering about the suitability of older horses in beginner classes. For example this horse.

    This is pretty much his normal trot once he is warmed up. However, I do let him start out like an old man, and work out of stiffness.


    Because of his age, use, and low heels, more on one foot, he won't pass a vet. Probably if you stare at him long enough, you will see a funny step or two or maybe he is uneven. Difficult to tell because he also has a little bounce to his step and head.

    Do horses like this get thrown out of the beginner classes? Are the judges a little more forgiving in these divisions? Should I just offer him a step down even from beginner?
    Last edited by ToTheNines; Apr. 25, 2013, 11:09 AM. Reason: To make sure not sounding like advertising
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  • #2
    Having seen some of the so called "sound" horses at local shows (a pretty decent local show circuit too!), your horse will be absolutely fine at local shows


    • #3
      He looks MUCH sounder than most horses at the begginer or even inermediate level at smaller shows, including young horses!

      Ps- I love his trot, and am a sucker for chestnuts- so cute!


      • #4
        Yes- he's fine. I've seen a lot worse at the cross-rail and 2' beginner levels at local shows.


        • #5
          First I have to agree with the others he is WAY cute

          I see his off steps and really don't have enough details. Have you had him vetted to see "why" he is off. Is it because of the low heel/high heel issue he is a bit off? Does he have shoes? What about joint supplements? In your area can you use a slight bit of medication like aspirin? I personally would see what can be done to help him working with the vet and farrier - shoeing and joint supplements etc.

          As far as you question - "Do horses like this get thrown out of the beginner classes? Are the judges a little more forgiving in these divisions?"

          It depends on the judge.

          I have been at schooling shows and my horse fell behind and was off for three strides behind (it's on video) and they blew the whistle. (It was Dressage training level).

          I have seen some extremely off horses in a schooling class where they judge does nothing. And I have seen some slightly off where the judge calls them in.
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          • #6
            If he has a "been there, done that, do whatever to me, I don't care" attitude, I think he'd make a great horse for a beginner or perhaps for an adult trying out a different style of riding. Even after warmup, if he has a safe amount of controllable "go" and a good stop, he'd be worth his weight to somebody trying to build up confidence.

            If he has a great attitude and doesn't care if there's a mob of people around him, he might even make a great therapeutic horse if you're worried that jumping might cause excessive strain.

            He's a handsome one regardless!


            • #7
              As long as he is comfortable and happy doing the work then he looks fine. He seems cute and like he was a nice mover back in his day. In the beginner divisions it's very much about suitability and horsemanship. He doesn't look too wonky to me.


              • #8
                I judge hunter shows locally and this horse would be just fine in a beginner divisions. He doesn't look glaringly off or uncomfortable in the video, in fact he's cute. I almost never excuse a horse for unsoundness at the beginner/local level since a lot of the horses I see in those classes are older, arthritic guys who are serviceably sound and appropriate for the job. They would have to look obviously uneven and uncomfortable for me to excuse them. If I think the horse is not quite right, especially in hunters I will not pin them. I am slightly more flexible in equitation divisions since I'm focused on the rider.

                A blog featuring the musings of a semi-neurotic adult amateur rider on riding, training, showing, life.


                • #9
                  He is a cute and I would assume would not be dismissed at the local level from a beginner division. We had 2 "oldies but goodies" who showed through 2' with our tiniest riders (size not always age). One had a "funny step" (not consistent just occasionally), and the other was grey in the face and on the coldest show days would trot a bit stiff during warm-up. But they took care of their riders, never missed a beat when the other ponies in the ring would do something stupid (buck a rider, bump into them, cut them off) - their job was to pack those beginners safely around that ring for them to learn and do their best.
                  Your guy definitely looks like he is MORE than capable of that.
                  Admittedly we made sure to give extra slow warm-ups and longer cool downs to the old guys in deference to their joints.
                  Last edited by MardiGrasTimeStable; Apr. 25, 2013, 06:53 PM. Reason: (had to fix the spelling error that suddenly jumped out and annoyed me)
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                  • #10
                    He is cute and looks okay. Do you have a video of him without the draw reins? I ask because I've seen horses go nice in draw reins and then turn very lame as soon as they are removed.


                    • #11
                      I have only seen judges excuse horses in the lower levels when a mild/intermittent gait abnormality worsened (like from one Dressage test to the next, that pair was rung out) or if the horse looked uncomfortable. I have also seen judges excuse horses in very poor condition, though technically sound and not obviously in pain.

                      I have seen judges ask riders about horses with "funny" gaits, and be satisfied if the answer is reasonable. I have also observed judges asking about condition on beginner horses, and being satisfied to hear things like "Fluffy's coat is hard to make shiny, because he can't have sugar! It will make him sick! He has a Cushion!" Judges seem to like seeing older horses, suitable to young beginners, that are well cared for and turned out, doing a job well. I think that a lot of judges also give a huge benefit of the doubt to horses in lower level classes...awkward, nervous riding can make a horse look all kinds of things! If the horse is pretty eagerly going to fences and seems to be enjoying his job, a lot of things are forgiven in the low levels.
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