Looking back

I am prompted to write this by a post from Mel over at Boots and Saddles who was musing on the changes in her horse over the years..

It is very true I think that horses go on changing for FAR longer than we really think: we all expect them to grow and change shape between birth and about 5 of course:

Flashy Joe 07

Joe rising two.. the day I brought him home


Joe 07

Same day – 2 months off 2 years old



Joe again

First ride at home – 3 and a half and learning to “park”. He looks so little…

Joe first ride 2

At the trainer’s at 3 and a half


Joe Dec 08 1

Rising 4.

But do we really think they have stopped growing by the time they’re 5 or 6?


Joe and Anna 2 Merredin

First 40km (25 miles). Rising 6…

coming in 5 Coooloongatta

Six and a half. Third 40km.


Joe lesson 2

7 years old (no, that’s not me riding!)

state champs five

State titles last year – aged 8.

Joe is registered in his log book as 15hh… He got that when he was 5. He’s now a solid 15.3. He didn’t fill out through the chest until he was 4 and a bit, and he has continued to get broader and more solid. There’s a lot of horse there now, and there wasn’t when I first started riding him. Not all of this is down to muscle development either… He has bigger feet, and more substantial leg bone.

I started Joe at three and a half… I originally planned to do it at 4, but he was the sort of horse who was clearly bored in the paddock and needed a job to do, so we went a bit early. Nowadays I wonder if I was too early, and I plan to try and hold off from starting Faith until she’s at least 4.

Is even that too early??




2 thoughts on “Looking back

  1. Wow, He changed a LOT. The feet and leg thing is I think what’s the most surprising to me, seeing it happen with Farley. The muscle and body filling out I can explain away, but every two years or so since I’ve owned her Farley has gone up a size in boots. Her front feet started out at a solid size one, and now I fear she’s almost outgrown her size 2w.

    On your comment about starting them. I used to think that four or five was ideal, however I just made arrangements for ml to go away to a friend trainer on her third birthday. I think it all depends on what you mean by start. At three I want her to be made to think a lot, be saddled up, and have a couple rides under her belt. Thirty to sixty days if she seems to be enjoying herself. Basically get to a point where when I “restart” her in her four year old year it’s mostly review and building on what was introduced the previous year. honestly I probably wont even get on her myself until after her four year old year. But I still think that time put in during the three year old year, even though it will be low Key and not practiced consistently is important from a mental maturity standpoint. I’m also more convinced as the years go by that lameness and other sport horse problems are not driven as much by our decisions as they are a multifactorial soup of genetics, environment, and yes – our decisions of when we start them and how we ride them. But often I feel like we take far too much of both the blame and the credit for their long term success for failure. It’s all very grey for me about the best time to start a horse, especially knowing that tendons will start to degenerate with time and training like a clock ticking and physical exercise may be beneficial earlier in life to get maximum fitness in tendons – weighed against bone and growth plates and the risks there. Definitely not as clear cut as I used to think it was.

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