When is it OK to Start Riding your Horse?

My friend Patti posted this great article to her Facebook page.  It is about when bones close in a horses body and therefor when it is safe to do things with horses without permanently damaging them.

Here are a few excerpts.  The link to the full article is at the bottom:

All Horses of All Breeds Mature Skeletally at the Same Rate – There is no such thing as an ‘early maturing’ or  ‘slow maturing’ breed of horse.”

“What people often don’t realize is that there is a “growth plate” on either end of every bone behind the skull, and in the case of some bones (like the pelvis, which has many “corners”) there are multiple growth plates.”

“The process of converting the growth plates to bone goes from the bottom of the animal up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal’s back you look, the later. . . And what do you think is last? The vertebral column, of course.”

“Here’s another little fact: within the chain of vertebrae, the last to fully close” are those at the base of the animal’s neck . . .better learn how to get a horse broke to tie before you ever tie him up, so that there will be no likelihood of him ever pulling back hard).”

“if you are one of those who equates “starting” with “riding”, then I guess you better not start your horse until he’s four. When I say “start” a horse I do not equate that with riding him.”

“I’ve had people act, when I gave them the above facts and advice about starting youngstock, like waiting four years was just more than they could possibly stand. I think they feel this way because the list of things which they would like to include as necessary before attempting to ride is very short. “

If that gets you interested you ought to read the full article.  It is a real eye opener.

 Timing and Rate of skeletal maturation in Horses – by Deb Bennett, Ph.D.