I think that the ol’ “what age to start horses under saddle or in work” question might be one of the most hotly debated topics in the horse world. On one end of the spectrum you have the racehorses and western folk, who start pretty early at 18-24 months, typically. Then you have another subset of people who believes that no horse should even be sat on or lunged or anything until it’s 5 or 6 (or more). Most of us probably fall somewhere in between, but it’s one of those ask-10-people-get-12-answers type of things. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have a real opinion on this particular subject, and most people have a lot of conviction behind whatever they believe. You often see this particular graphic being passed around facebook, but used to support total opposite viewpoints, which I find particularly amusing. I swear I see this have a resurgence at least once every couple months (psst, this isn’t even totally accurate).
Opinions are one thing, science is another. Studies should give us clear answers, right?
There have been a lot of different studies by now, using a lot of different variables, and the validity of those seems to be as hotly debated as the subject matter itself. I came across a new one the other day though, and new material seems fairly rare when it comes to this topic so it’s always interesting when something does surface. I myself have a few mixed and admittedly conflicting opinions after reading through all the data and looking at all the figures, but I’d rather toss it out here without my own impressions first to see what other folks think. Again it’s another racehorse-centric one, specifically about whether or not 2yo’s should train and race, so… how you feel about that is one part, and whether you believe that’s at all comparable to the sporthorse world or not is another part.
The link to the study is in that post. You can click Full Text to pop up the whole thing, or click on Download PDF.
Thoughts? Impressions? Have any of these studies impacted your opinion at all or do you rely more on your own personal experiences?