In Loving Memory of Mason Phelps Jr
Yep leave them free in the fields doing nothing at all until they're 6. Most are not even fully developed at 6 either so we really should leave them completely alone until they're 8 or 9.
There is a difference between starting and backing imo. Carefully and gently preparing a horse for a performance career while being mindful of their developing bodies, and just as importantly, their minds, is a nonlinear objective to help a horse better carry and conduct themselves to exist in a manmade world. Horses never asked to be participants in human games and if the sport continues on this path of willful ignorance for the minimal requirements of the species we can all wave goodbye to competition.
Everything done in the saddle can be done on the ground. (also barefoot) Donatello D'auge - Julien's homebred which he stated he backed at 5, waited to see what he could do until he was 9, has been siting at the top of the WBFSH breeder ranking list for months. There is a staggering amount of science and data proving how valuable it is to take things slowly with young horses by protecting their backs/necks until they are closer to 6.
Or will you only do it if more celebrity trainers/riders endorse waiting to back them until they're older?
Want ECVM, juvenile arthritis, ESPA, a lifetime of needing injections, or any other common abnormality associated with working babies beyond what their bodies are capable of? Go right ahead keep riding 3 and 4 year olds. But why don't you drop us your real name so we know to never buy a horse from you or connected to you.
My horse was x-rated at 22. Zero need for hock injections and clean legs. Never had hock injections at all. Never lame. Horse was on the H/j circuit for years. Bought at three and did not do any serious and\or high jumps until age seven. In fact, did nothing more than cavaletti exercises and flat until age 7. Trailered him to shows to do flat classes for experience. Same with my other horse. The only reason to push young horses are ego and money. It is such B.S. Even more disturbing are owners who allow trainers to do this to their horses. I had one high level trainer tell me if he did not start jumping at 3 he would not have a work ethic. Lol! Grow a pair and makes decisions on what is best for the animal....if you truly care about it.
Jumping at such heights, especially in the range of 3'9" to 4'3", does seem quite demanding for a six-year-old horse. Personally, I believe it's essential to prioritize the horse's well-being, considering that their spine and neck are still developing at this age. While there may not be a fixed minimum age, a more cautious approach to allow for proper physical development and conditioning should be taken into account.
I would say that the current specs definitely are catered to the minority of young horses not the majority. The current heights are doable but it takes a horse that has all the stars aligning to do it well (good brain/train ability, correct conformation, not an over jumper, etc). I keep an eye on the young horse class results and they are often small and the results have a wide range of variance. The current young horse finals in the US are under attended and definitely don’t showcase the top young horses as a lot of the top tier riders don’t even participate. Not to mention the current expectations for vettings, who wants to risk that premature wear and tear for not much reward?