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Swiss and German Quarter Horse Associations raise the age for competition

AMT Equestrian Services posted the following to Facebook:

Fantastic news for the welfare of horses coming out of Switzerland and Germany yet again!

Their respective Quarter Horse associations have resolved to prohibit 3 year old horses from ridden competitions and futurities as of March 2016.

Horses must be at least 4 years old before they are permitted to compete under saddle. The article states this is following a global trend and questions being raised about horse welfare.

They also resolved that 4 year old and older horses can be ridden 2 handed in a snaffle or hackamore (I assume this means there is no longer a mandatory age to show in a bridle).

Well done Europe!! Come on rest of the world!

21 thoughts on “Swiss and German Quarter Horse Associations raise the age for competition”

  1. Letting them become mature keeps them sound and develops natural muscling and sound minds. Congratulations to the Germans and Swiss!! World leaders! We might still have one mare and one stallion who won the Kentucky Derby if they had been allowed by the racing industry to not race until they were 4! Money and greed rules in the USA!

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  2. I think it is a good rule too many great horses get started too young and break down early and it’s a shame because although I understand that if you are in the horse business you want to get your horses going, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to wait until they are physically and emotionally ready to handle rigorous training, to achieve a well rounded, sound, healthy horse?

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  3. It’s no bullet proof fix by any means but it sends the message that we have to start being more in tune to their long term health and their futures down the road. Broken down horses are more likely to end up at the killers yard. We have to start somewhere some how some time and that time is now. For the horse.

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  4. Unfortunately, many trainers will still start these horses way to young. There is no rule about riding them as long yearlings, just competing on 2 and three year olds. Many will only use this to get their horses more broke before they go out there.
    The other problem is the way horses are kept – in stalls, only to be let out to be lunged in circles.

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  5. It’s not about age but about the care. This is a silly rule that sadly does not address the root of the problem but allows short sighted people to feel good.

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    1. Are you kidding me, a horses legs and back do not fully develop until 51/2 to 6 and there backs are not fused, are you kidding me. Silly rule, well it should be 5 not 4. All of the so called I love my horse people is such a hypocritical thing for if they truly cared they would educate themselves and would want the best for their horse and not care soely about the WIN and the EGO and the GREED

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      1. While this may not be to everyone’s satisfaction, too much for some, not enough for others, it IS a step in the right direction. Baby horses need to grow up and be started when they are ready.

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        1. The education of when all horses legs and backs are fully developed is there, why are people ignoring it, pretty easy for me, it is all about the money and the ego and the win. Good Lord and what is it I heard, you all love your horses, yes, okay, uh huh

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    2. The only one being ‘short sighted’ here is you Rob Young. It’s about time we allow the babies to become ‘horses’ before we start competing on them. This rule should also extend to the race horses. 93% of the racing quarter horses breakdown as 2 yr olds. DUMB!. They are just TOO young and immature to compete at such an early age. THANK you Europe.

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    3. All of our horses are started at 2. And our trainer knows what he is doing. All are sound as broodmares now. We retired them at their top, if we wanted to leg them up and get them showing again we could. Because they are 100% sound. It’s the trainer and how they train that determines if a horse is going to break down or not, I know plenty of older horses that were pushed too hard and broke down.

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        1. My horse was started at 2 but it was only once a week for less than an hour. It can be done if it’s done properly. We didn’t show in any riding classes until he was 4. I am glad that they are going the way of no showing until older. Maybe people will take more time to develop their horses. He is now 8 and is still very much sound aside from the typical running into a fence and abscess I have never had any joint problems or back problems or anything to suggest that he pushed too hard or too early.

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    4. Sorry, I have to disagree with you. While you’re sort of correct in that it’s not the only issue, age is still a BIG factor in a horse’s ability to stand up to rigorous, repetitious hard work with high joint stress. Having worked on a dressage/cross country jumpers breeding farm for many years I have seen my share of radiographs done on 2 year old knees. Rare is it that a young 2 year olds’ knees properly closed and ready to carry a rider under heavy work. Two year olds appear ready, we breed them so big these days, but that has actually caused MORE of a joint problem, not less. With the advancement of medicines and our knowledge we can clearly see that the majority of horses are not ready for what we ask of them until at least three year olds. I broke out my last horse as a late three year old and didn’t start competitive trail riding until he was 4, and am confident he will last me many years and retire with a good chance of being sound.

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  6. I have been saying this for years, these babies need to let their bodies and bones mature and you don’t need to start them under saddle until they are 4yrs old, hope We get smart really quickly in this country. Way to go Swiss and German QHA! Now it is our turn AQHA lets get this right for our horses!

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    1. I agree except that it should be stated ; ‘ in their 4 year old year (beginning January 1st of the year). So a horse born in April 15th could compete in a 4 years old futurity held in March instead of disqualifying it.

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