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For those who start their 2 year olds under saddle

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  • #41
    Originally posted by KBC View Post
    I’m trying really hard not to be the old woman, set in her ways, but I’m struggling with changing my long held beliefs on this.

    Yes I believe that the earlier you work with the mind the better, the more a young horse is exposed to and experiences in a positive way the more it sets it up for life.

    There are many things that I have had to adapt my thinking on, but this is a tough one for me. I know that QH’s are often started a lot younger, and keep going until a good old age, but still I don’t like it.

    i guess my original point is still “where do we draw the line?”

    I get every horse is different, every situation is different, but riding a horse who is still months away from their 2nd birthday seems much to soon. If I had to draw a line it would be top side of two for sure.
    Is it a QH colt in ON? If so I just did ride #16. I think there needs to be a distinction between backing and full training maybe?
    www.abacusfurniture.com

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    • #42
      I don't blame the researchers, I fear people who misinterpret and don't draw the line wisely. Scientific data need a context and some data are not understandable for everyone.

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      • #43
        Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
        Is it a QH colt in ON? If so I just did ride #16. I think there needs to be a distinction between backing and full training maybe?
        I do agree here, there is a difference between being started in those first 30-60 days and going into full training work.

        Our home bred pack and back country horses are on mock pack strings with their pack saddles (enmpty) as long yearlings (20 months is when we normally start this) they go out in threes with one of the old baby sitter geldings. They dont go over 15 miles, and we keep them on pretty flat ground. Only breaking into some light hills when they are around two. Theh are also only doing this twice a week in the cooler months, they dont get sweaty.

        We then saddle start them the spring of their 2 year old year. They will get saddle educated in the arena, then taken back out trail riding learning to use their bodies with our help on more challenging rides.

        Then that winter they will be tossed back in the pack line, learn to work in longer strings and harder trails.

        by the time they are 3 they generally know their jobs and what they will be doing. This is when the real work of long distance over night packs start. The rides where they are now packing some weight.

        They stay sound and same their entire lives, my grandfather has been using this method as long as he can remember and it seems to be working great for what we do. Does this work for every horse? No. But for our homebreds, that have breeding we decided worked best for our needs, it does.

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        • Original Poster

          #44
          Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
          Is it a QH colt in ON? If so I just did ride #16. I think there needs to be a distinction between backing and full training maybe?

          No I believe it was here in Saskatchewan.

          There probably should be all sorts of distinctions, but like a previous poster I have no faith in the human race, there are those who will say If 2 is beneficial, 18 months is better. The next group want to steal an advantage so suddenly a year is OK...next w3 are throwing kids on weanlings to build the correct body and mind.

          That is my whole unease I guess, it sounds ridiculous, but so do many of the other things that some people do to horses to gain some kind of advantage.
          "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

          "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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          • #45
            Originally posted by KBC View Post


            No I believe it was here in Saskatchewan.

            There probably should be all sorts of distinctions, but like a previous poster I have no faith in the human race, there are those who will say If 2 is beneficial, 18 months is better. The next group want to steal an advantage so suddenly a year is OK...next w3 are throwing kids on weanlings to build the correct body and mind.

            That is my whole unease I guess, it sounds ridiculous, but so do many of the other things that some people do to horses to gain some kind of advantage.
            No one is "trying to gain any kind of advantage" by training a horse so it will be the most sound it can be?

            If loading early, done properly, gives us a fitter horse for any task, why not consider it in any plans for any horse we manage?

            A fitter horse for any task is basic, gives any horse a better body and mind to do what it will be doing all it's life.

            A bit like requiring some sports for all kids, don't just let them grow up being practically a couch potato and then expect them to train once mature for some sport and do well and without injuries, like you may a kid that did some sports when growing up.

            That is not any "advantage" for anyone other than first for the individual itself.

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            • Original Poster

              #46
              Originally posted by Bluey View Post

              No one is "trying to gain any kind of advantage" by training a horse so it will be the most sound it can be?

              If loading early, done properly, gives us a fitter horse for any task, why not consider it in any plans for any horse we manage?

              A fitter horse for any task is basic, gives any horse a better body and mind to do what it will be doing all it's life.

              A bit like some sports for all kids, don't just let them grow up being practically a couch potato and then expect them to train once mature for some sport and do well and without injuries, like you may a kid that did some sports when growing up.

              Oh some people will try if it is a competition of any sort, and someone believes starting earlier gains an edge they will do it, just because humans suck.

              There is a difference between kids being active, a great thing, they should be trying all sports, being physically active, very beneficial, but on the other hand my young friend, who is all of 27 is in pain so often because of the stress her body was put under when she was a young gymnast.

              Things done correctly, and appropriately for the body and mind, by people who have the knowledge and skill to do so, is one thing, but sadly I, as you may have gathered, think there are many who lack those essentials.


              Not one person is answering the question, where would your cut off be, even early starters must baulk at a number surely?
              "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

              "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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              • #47
                Originally posted by KBC View Post


                Oh some people will try if it is a competition of any sort, and someone believes starting earlier gains an edge they will do it, just because humans suck.

                There is a difference between kids being active, a great thing, they should be trying all sports, being physically active, very beneficial, but on the other hand my young friend, who is all of 27 is in pain so often because of the stress her body was put under when she was a young gymnast.

                Things done correctly, and appropriately for the body and mind, by people who have the knowledge and skill to do so, is one thing, but sadly I, as you may have gathered, think there are many who lack those essentials.


                Not one person is answering the question, where would your cut off be, even early starters must baulk at a number surely?
                As a trainer, you know where that line is when you train or when it crosses to overtraining, which can happen at any age, any stage of training.

                That line is very clear because if you are wrong, your horse will not stay sound.
                That holds no matter what age horse you are training.
                No different because one is young or older.
                You go by the individual in front of you.

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                • Original Poster

                  #48
                  Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                  As a trainer, you know where that line is when you train or when it crosses to overtraining, which can happen at any age, any stage of training.

                  That line is very clear because if you are wrong, your horse will not stay sound.
                  That holds no matter what age horse you are training.
                  No different because one is young or older.
                  You go by the individual in front of you.


                  Believe me when I say I am not trying to be either dense, or argumentative, just exploring thoughts on the subject, a thing much easier done sat round a table with a few bottles of wine to help.


                  While I understand your answer, and of course it all depends on the horse, trainer etc etc, there has to be a line that you wouldn’t cross. You don’t look at youngsters everyday from weaning, asking yourself “is it ready to back” There has to be a “this is too young” marker. Now probably each trainer, owner has their own line, I get that, but what is the number?
                  "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                  "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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                  • #49
                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                    No one is "trying to gain any kind of advantage" by training a horse so it will be the most sound it can be?

                    If loading early, done properly, gives us a fitter horse for any task, why not consider it in any plans for any horse we manage?

                    A fitter horse for any task is basic, gives any horse a better body and mind to do what it will be doing all it's life.

                    A bit like requiring some sports for all kids, don't just let them grow up being practically a couch potato and then expect them to train once mature for some sport and do well and without injuries, like you may a kid that did some sports when growing up.

                    That is not any "advantage" for anyone other than first for the individual itself.
                    Sorry, you are assuming that all trainers have the horse's best interest in mind. Have you recently seen how futurity trainers train their QHs? I have. Those horses flat out do not stay sound. Your theory that horses stay sounder when they are started younger is unsound.

                    I also disagree that older horses are harder to start. Maybe if you let it run feral. But a horse that is handled, groomed, turned out, loaded, farrier work, etc is going to take to starting fine.
                    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                    • #50
                      Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post

                      Sorry, you are assuming that all trainers have the horse's best interest in mind. Have you recently seen how futurity trainers train their QHs? I have. Those horses flat out do not stay sound. Your theory that horses stay sounder when they are started younger is unsound.

                      I also disagree that older horses are harder to start. Maybe if you let it run feral. But a horse that is handled, groomed, turned out, loaded, farrier work, etc is going to take to starting fine.
                      I don't think that was the inference Bluey was making. I believe Bluey was saying is that since it's proven that these horses (appropriately) started younger have a physiological advantage (better tissue/recovery/fitness) over unstarted horses, why not consider it for future horses we manage?

                      "Appropriate loading", AFAIK, was light work a few times a week, breezing and/or speed work once or twice a week. Any horse should be able to do that - even young ones. What isn't appropriate for young and growing horses is moderate/heavy work, lots of lunging, circles, etc. That is where you get injuries - repetitive, long and slow work.

                      What these studies have shown, is that the way the horse is started and at what age they are started lays down the permanent foundation for that horse's future soundness. It also directly correlates to the horse's (soft) tissue tolerance for exercise as an adult.

                      Once that horse is fully matured, no matter how appropriately they are worked, their remodeling capabilities, soft-tissue tolerance for exercise, and bone density will never be as good as a horse started earlier once rapid development is over (which is usually 18-24 months). Exercise is what triggers remodeling, better bone density/layering, and adaptive tissue.

                      I am with Bluey that my experience has been the older horses are more difficult to start. I've been involved in a few of those "field projects" and they just don't seem to have the same work ethic. Sometimes you can install it in them but most of them have spent so long not having to work that they don't tackle their exercise with the same willingness.

                      YMMV, as always. The study Bluey linked links to several other studies, one of which proves horses started as 2 y/os have significantly longer "functional longevity" (meaning, less wastage within sport) than those started later. This study tangentially proves the above study's observation.

                      What I would really like to see, is a study on management and future soundness. I believe this plays just as big, if not bigger, a role in a yearling's long term soundness. I'm particularly interested to see pasture vs stalled yearlings, within the same work program.
                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                      • #51
                        Coming from a western/ QH stand point.

                        I have started desert, ranch bred horses at 3,4,5+ years old. Ran loose on thousands of acres before started, some stayed sound, some didn't.

                        Started farm raised performance bred horses at the long yearling, 2 year old stage, some stayed sound, some didn't.

                        Purely anecdotal but how can one judge on age started alone? Too many factors are at play.

                        For those that think all performance QH are crippled by 7 years of age?
                        You might not see them because they go to the breeding barn, no longer shown as an open horse, go to packing non-pros or switch careers. Not ALL of them are crippled.

                        PS.
                        The highest money earning horse in the NRCHA of all time was shown until 14 and retired sound.

                        My advice is start them or send them to the trainer when you feel is right.
                        If you're purchasing and the age started bugs you, don't slap your cash out.

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                        • #52
                          But this is, what I mean: be careful using a racehorse research on a dressage horse - not only that they are growing immensely, their typical work is different. So, the Ingrid Klimkes out there maybe do not need 'us' to tell them how to work the young horses. But we have to keep in mind, that most people - even if they want the best - are not supported by worldclass farriers, trainers, barn conditions. In daily life I see a lot of 'inappropriate' work and I think the younger the horse, the more damage because of lack of knowledge and/or the idea of a carte blanche to ride horses as young as possible just because someone misinterpreted the information of training and soundness. Training young horses with patience and consideration and an individual, slow program often is only what people think they do.

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                          • #53
                            Originally posted by Salo View Post
                            But this is, what I mean: be careful using a racehorse research on a dressage horse - not only that they are growing immensely, their typical work is different. So, the Ingrid Klimkes out there maybe do not need 'us' to tell them how to work the young horses. But we have to keep in mind, that most people - even if they want the best - are not supported by worldclass farriers, trainers, barn conditions. In daily life I see a lot of 'inappropriate' work and I think the younger the horse, the more damage because of lack of knowledge and/or the idea of a carte blanche to ride horses as young as possible just because someone misinterpreted the information of training and soundness. Training young horses with patience and consideration and an individual, slow program often is only what people think they do.
                            Just curious, did you read the studies linked at all? Because the concern you have in bold is addressed in several of them..
                            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                            • #54
                              For the average person, or the trainers that want to push the youngsters to get to futurities, the whole "it's better to start a horse later than at 2" is a good general guideline to keep horses sound longer. BUT, you absolutely can start a younger horse in an intelligent, strategic, sympathetic way where they learn under-saddle basics without undue stress on their bodies.

                              The good trainers that start young horses will look at every horse as an individual. Is this horse balanced enough at the stage of growth to be able to even support a rider? If not, no under saddle work until they balance. If they are balanced, then short hacks at a walk to get the babies out and about, or similar intensity of work in the arena. Starting a youngster doesn't have to be all or nothing, there is an entire spectrum of levels of training that can take place. And the ones that know what they are doing aren't going to push a horse further than it is physically or mentally able to handle.

                              As far as a limit...2 years does seem to be the typical limit, which can go down to 18 months for racehorses but really only for the ones that are more mature at that age. And it typically still isn't a lot of work that they do. Younger than 18 months seems to universally be way too young (not including the crappy people that think putting a saddle and little kid on a weanling is fine).

                              The age isn't really the important part of the equation, though. You have to look at the whole horse, physically and mentally. And even though physiologically different breeds mature at the same rate, there does seem to be a difference between the gangly, awkward warmblood 2 year olds and the already-close-to-final-height TB and QH 2 year olds (that are also bred to typically be mentally more prepared for work at a younger age).

                              Basically, you can't really say "this is the best age for every single horse to be started under saddle", because there are too many variables to it.

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                              • #55
                                I don't mind someone backing an actual two year old, maybe getting them going W/T, a few short flat hacks and then turning them out for another 6 months or so. But I think there are few humans that are good at knowing when to say when. I'd much rather my babies be in large, group turnout and do things like pony out on trails or ground drive than actually carry a rider or do lunging/roundpen work.
                                Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

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                                • #56
                                  Yes! A horse has to grow slowly in to its job no matter what age. I am daily with almost 2 year old warmbloods, no one here would ever ride them, earliest is 2,5. They are so lanky and 'foalish', bred to have big movements. They all know how to behave, how to be groomed and starting them is no problem at all, because they are used to people, but they are in the pasture. What keeps them sound - in my experience/opinion - is a whole package of good riding/training, maintenance, arena footing, genetics - and luck. This package makes it difficult to compare one horses career to the other. I am not against starting a young horse in moderate work, I am against rashness. My concern is not pros training young horses. My concern is people thinking they are pros. They are out there no matter of recommendations, training books or researches. They will not read it probably. But they will hear from it, because the brother of the cousin of the neighbour said so. They get the opportunity to legitimate their bad training with fragments of knowledge. It is still bad training or even horse abuse, but to me it feels worse. And because starting a young horse in many cases is because people are impatient, don't wanna pay for a pasture pet anymore, not because they think about the 'best package' of training and maintenance.

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