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Age for horses to stop jumping?

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  • Age for horses to stop jumping?

    I was just curious as to when horses should stop jumping relatively high? My ottb turned 15 in march and last year he did the 3ft like a pro and jumped around great but our first show out doing it this year he refused to jump and began stopping.. My trainer said it wasn't rider error and he just couldn't do the jumps... Is 15 normal for a horse to not trust himself over bigger jumps anymore? Thank you any input and opinions would be helpful!!

  • #2
    It really depends on the horse. My 20yo still trucks around 3'-3'6 like it's nothing. I would check your horse for some kind of pain. That's usually the cause.
    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
    My equine soulmate
    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


    • #3
      Depends on mileage/the horse really. My old jumper packed around the 1.25 at 14 (and would pop chip 1.40 oxers without a problem) but when he turned 15 he really slowed down and didn't want to jump higher than 3'. Flexible is 17 and still jumping 1.50-1.60 tracks.


      • #4
        agreed depends on the horse, and if your horse was game last year at 3' but is now stopping I would definitely rule out pain as an issue. I know when my horse started stopping hard at 2'6"-3', it was time for some coffin injections because that height should really not be a big deal re:rider error.


        • #5
          It depends.

          If you ride the snot out of a horse from the time he is 2 until the time he is 10, he can be ruined at 11. If you take great care in maintaining a horse through his old age he can still be winning grand prix at 18+ years old as evidenced by so many who have done this.

          Genetics play a part, but if you are one of those people who throws a fit at doing "flatwork" and want to jump a horse every day, you can expect that horse to retire much sooner. Assuming you have had him the length of your career.


          • #6
            My mare jumped pretty high as a teen and by the time she was mid 20's she was doing 2'3"-2'6". She pretty much jumped all her life after the track which she left at 7.

            My older TB was retired from jumping at 15. Same sire two very different horses. It really just depends.


            • #7
              It is not uncommon for a 15yr old horse to need to "step down", especially if it has done a lot in its earlier years (which racing certainly qualifies). As others said, it really depends on the horse. I've known horses that needed to step down to 2'6 at 13 and others who jumped 3' until 22 yrs old.


              • #8
                My horse is still jumping a couple times per week and he is 25. Don't make any decision without a vet's exam.
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home


                • #9
                  Have a good lameness vet out and see if your horse is hurting somewhere. Stopping often means that the hocks, stifles or SI are sore - all of which you can work on and possibly fix.


                  • #10
                    Agree with what was said above -- have your vet check him out and don't assume that 15 is too old to jump.

                    My Trakehner needed his hocks injected when he was 16 or 17 -- he had never stopped at a fence and then I had one or two stops. As soon as his hocks were injected he felt great.

                    If you look at the horses that are eventing at the highest levels (Rolex, Badminton, etc.) there are several who are in their late teens.
                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                    • #11
                      My 17-year-old is going to be doing the 1.50s with me this summer. It so depends on the horse, not the number
                      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                      • #12
                        It totally depends on the horse. I retired my show horse last year at 18. She was not recovering well after a few shows. Dropped her down a notch, did a few shows at AA and was champion both times but again was not recovering well. Had the vet check her out and she was sore all over. I could have really juiced her joints but when Adequan was no longer enough after a prolific career, she told me it was time. I still ride her but no more jumping. We might even venture out to o local charity show this summer. She is loving retirement!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                          My 17-year-old is going to be doing the 1.50s with me this summer. It so depends on the horse, not the number
                          You've been very careful with Nikki, though, giving her the time off and then some when she needed it. From what you've shared with us about her, I bet she'd like to jump more often than you ask of her!


                          • #14
                            We have a Dutch WB at school who is 27 and still jumping 2'6''ish. He is a speed demon and a monkey could literally ride him to a win in the jumpers. He could probably still jump 3' or more but for his sake he is kept in lower levels (probably to his disappointment :P)
                            Von Hendrix aka Jimi


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks everyone for the replies, I really don't jump him a lot we do focus a lot on flat work and building his muscles other ways and just jump him during my lesson once a week. I'll deff initially bring the vet in to check him out and see if anything is making him sore :/


                              • #16
                                My lease horse is a 24 year old OTTB and we compete in the 3' hunters and equitation. He's sound as can be but I do take steps to ensure that he is comfortable (Adequan injections, time off, lots of flat work). He would love to go higher, but I make sure he tops out at 3' now (with the occasional 3'3" fence thrown in).


                                • #17
                                  Depends entirely on the horse. My sister's horse, Magic, moved UP to prelim (3'7") at age 18, andcontinued to compete at that level until age 23.

                                  Spy, on the other hand, retired from jumping at age 18, due to hip arthritis that was making him stop.

                                  Definitely have the vet check him out.

                                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Mara View Post
                                    You've been very careful with Nikki, though, giving her the time off and then some when she needed it. From what you've shared with us about her, I bet she'd like to jump more often than you ask of her!
                                    Yes, she thinks I'm a wimpy fuddyduddy most of the time
                                    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                                    • #19
                                      Depends entirely on the horse, his performance history, his maintenance program, and his conformation. Mine is 18 this year, a campaigner in his youth who hunted, evented, showed the jumpers, and then did the eq with me. He "could" continue his 3' career- he has his vet's blessing. But I just don't think he has the same liftoff behind, plus there're a few soundness considerations, so now we bop around 2'6". I would rather step down early and maintain their longevity for a happy, healthy career at a comfortable impact level to prolong their health and fitness as they age.

                                      Any change in your horse's willingness to do his job should be greeted by an evaluation of your riding and a vet check.
                                      "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                                      Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                                      Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                                      • #20
                                        Do not be afraid of injections once they get into their mid-teens. It can make a world of difference in their comfort levels, and lot of horses still want a job, so why not help them out? Maybe not at their former glory-days level, but in the lesson program at my barn, there are a number of oldies (18+) who will still happily go around the 2'6''/2'9'' provided they have a little maintenance, and they love their jobs.

                                        Horses are pretty good at telling us when they've had enough of something or need a change of pace. It has been pretty obvious, at least with all of my horses, when a step-down was necessary, or if the maintenance was worth it, or if retirement was the best option.