9 comments on “Ask Vickie, Equestrian

  1. That was interesting and surprising. And now, I have more terminology to investigate.

    I wonder about race horses, some of them seem to be younger, but I guess they’re not doing all the intricate manoeuvres that show jumpers need to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yvonne,
      Most people know that race horses all get a year older on the first day in January after their birth but they don’t think of the consequences. That means that a foal that is born in June 2014 is considered a year old on January 1st 2015.
      The training schedule of a thoroughbred that will be raced begins in the fall of their yearling year. This means that they are not only backed in the fall when some of them are barely a year old. but are actually raced in competition on tracks when they are really only 18 months old.
      The life of a race horse is pretty boring after that…they get fed before dawn, are tacked up and mounted in their stall, walked to the track, jogged around the track, then cantered or gallopped a few times around the track, trotted a few furlongs, then walked the rest of the way back to the barn. There a groom takes them for a bath. From there, the more thoughtful trainers have them walked until they are dry – sometimes on a hot walker and sometimes by hand. The not-so-concerned trainers take them wet back to their stalls. They are fed around noon and again around 6:00 and they don’t come back out of the stall until after breakfast the following morning.
      When they start training there are still open growth plates in their legs and many of them break down in training before they even make it to their first race.
      Warmbloods are started under saddle as a general rule in my area in the fall of their third year so, in general, we see fewer lower leg problems. Since most of them are also born in the early summer, really they are barely three years old and their stifles, hocks, and hips are still open. These are the major areas where we see problems in both young horses in training and later on. Occasionally we even see dropped backs as the photos showed due to tears in the connective tissue in the spine.
      Rather than the stresses of racing, the young warmbloods are longed in small circles which puts a lot of stress on the legs, then we ask them to collect or ‘come into a frame’ at a young age which compresses the vertebrae. At this time, many riders and trainers ask for too much bend in the neck and the nose drops behind the vertical. Before age 6 the horse should not be asked to come into a frame but should be allowed to carry his nose a bit ahead of vertical.
      ARGH! Once again I have gone overboard to answer a simple comment. In my defense, I have to say that, as a breeder, this early training is a pet peeve of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll never look at horses in the same way again. Thank you for your comprehensive explanation, it is appreciated. (You never know what you’re going to learn through blogs.)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You know how my mind works (sort of). When I read , β€œWhat is the best age to start training for show jumping?” I thought it was asking what age a child should be before s/he starts learning….

    Liked by 2 people

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