Originally Posted by jlutgendorf
I'm curious about this. I've read before that many think 3 is too young to race horse this far.
I personally don't think a horse should be raced before 4, that would mean the horse goes into training at 3. I don't even put a saddle on my horses until they are well into their 2nd year, and don't attempt getting on until they're in their 3rd year.
As I mentioned before, putting horses into light work before their legs are mature and their knees are closed *can* cause their legs to become denser had you have waited for structural maturity. HOWEVER, doing this correctly, and with the horse's development as the top priority, is really hard. It requires very closely monitored vetting (x-rays, ultrasounds, etc). It requires the trainer to be VERY aware of the horse and how it moves. It requires the rider to be VERY aware of the same things, plus the ability to pick up on differences while the horse is in motion before
break down happens. It takes a very experienced horse person to pull the horse up BEFORE a serious injury. And anyone who has ever had a horse, race horse or not, can attest to this. Heck, it's even happened to me, when all of a sudden I feel a noticeable limp. Chances are, that could have been picked up if you were looking for it and knew how to spot it. The problem is that not all, if many, trainers/riders know what they're looking for.
Industry standards say that early training and racing is fine, when in truth it's only Ok for a few amount of horses. Very few.
|I know horses take longer to mature, when would a horse be considered full grown?
Depends on the breed, but "full grown" is such a subjective term. Some breeds are sexually mature at just over year, while not skeletally mature until 3 or 4. And every horse is different, even with in it owns blood lines.
It's telling that in most other disciplines you see the best horses much later in life. You won't find a grand prix dressage horse that is under 10.
|And why are they raced at 3 yrs?
You want my honest answer? Because horses are expennnnnnnnnnnnnsive. It costs a lot to raise a horse until the day it races. The majority of race horses do not win and do not make money. If they don't win, they leave the track. A lot of horses never make it out of training, and never get to see the starting gates. If an owner/trainer sat on that horse until it was 4 to find out that it can't win, or shouldn't be raced, it would almost not be worth it in the first place.
A dressage horse, however, is not a money making conglomerate. A few few horsemen outside of racing make enough to call it a career, and it takes years upon years upon years of winning with various horses to make it to that level (which is usually sponsorship and endorsement deals).
Race horses, in comparison, are a churn and burn industry. Get them in, race them, get them out, bring in the new ones. That's how you make money. No one would make money sitting on a horse till it was 3, 4, or 5.