Pet Peeve blog post

On the Road with Julie Goodnight.

Julie asked “What’s your pet peeve?”

My pet peeve is starting horses under saddle at 1 or 2 years old.  Allowing them to grow until 3 or better yet 4 would give them time to develop the cartilage and the mind to manage a rider and the lessons that are needed.  Horses can live 40+ years but a good majority break down in their 20’s.  What’s the rush?    The faster trainers get an animal under saddle the faster they can be sold.

I worked with an FEI judge a number of years ago who was raising a colt when she suffered a back injury and was off horses for a year.  She spent that year ground driving and doing ground work with the colt which resulted in not started it under saddle until 4.  At the time we talked the mare was in her late teens and had never had a lame day in its life.  She was working at Grand Prix level by that time with a horse that had both a sound mind and sound body.  I hate seeing these babies rushed.

On another occasion I saw a reining “champion” on a 4-year-old quarter horse doing national level work.  That means the horse would have to be started no later than 2 to be able to perform at that level including LOTS of spin work.  I have no respect for this “trainer” as a result.

On a separate note:  I prefer dressage training and I love trail riding.  I’ve done both and a horse that is willing, obedient and sound in head as well as body is a true blessing for a rider.  I’m not pointing fingers at the reining world, there just seems to be more of a tendency for abuse in the western arena overall.  It may seem that way since it’s more prevalent in this area too.


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