RISK FAC­TOR

HARD TRAIN­ING BE­FORE PHYS­I­CAL MA­TU­RITY

EQUUS - - Eq In Brief -

One of the smartest moves you can make early in your horse’s ath­letic ca­reer is go­ing slow. An im­ma­ture horse’s car­ti­lage is still form­ing and not able to with­stand hard or repet­i­tive work. It is more likely to be dam­aged and less likely to be able to heal it­self, lead­ing to the devel­op­ment of early, and pos­si­bly se­vere, arthri­tis.

How soon a young horse can han­dle train­ing de­pends largely on his breed: Warm­bloods need more time to ma­ture, while Quar­ter Horses may be ready sooner. There is also in­di­vid­ual vari­a­tion, so a young­ster who doesn’t look as phys­i­cally ma­ture as his peers prob­a­bly isn’t. When you do put a young horse into work, take it slowly. Keep in mind that torque (twist­ing force) is par­tic­u­larly tough on joints, so limit the amount of work done in small cir­cles or with tight turns and re­sist the urge to drill new skills repet­i­tively. Also, be sure to in­cor­po­rate plenty of rest days.

Fi­nally, set aside com­pet­i­tive goals if your young horse doesn’t seem to be adapt­ing well to the work. Putting off a show or two now is a small price to pay for sound­ness in the years to come.

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