When To Start Riding A Young Horse?

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To Nick on the late growth question. I've also heard that the baroque type breeds continue to grow longer than a stock horse (my draft friends tell me some drafts do as well). Could also be a nutrition issue. I've had a couple rescue Apps I've bought as 4 or 5 year olds (with papers -- there was no question about their age) - one in particular I had for a little more than a year. He was about 14.2, 150 pounds underweight, as a 5 year old. Fed him slow and correctly, started him under saddle and turned him into a really nice trail/pleasure horse. He grew a full hand (not to mention outgrowing saddle, fly sheet, etc etc), in the time I had him. You would've not known it was the same horse from start to finish, and you wouldn't have thought a 5 year old would grow that much!

We generally start our quarter horses in the summer of their 2 year old year (so they are 27-28 months), put about 60 days on them, and then turn them out for 60 days, continue this ride and turn out schedule until late spring of their 3 year old year, then really start teaching them the finer points of riding, neck reining, tracking the roping dummy, etc, and if all goes well, start hauling them once a month late in their 4 year old or early in their 5 year old year. But, it totally depends on the horse. If he's still really leggy and "colt-looking" at 28 months, we might wait until spring of 3 year old year to ride. We train for a couple different breeders to get their colts sold as what they are bred to do, but there is no sense in rushing a good prospect that's just not quite physically ready. They all get ground work, saddled, ground-driven, and all those basics before we ride.

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