Everyone knows that for the horse to be ready for the big money races in Thoroughbred racing they must start their racing as 2 year olds.
There is a lot of controversy about whether or not they are ready and certainly some of the events in the recent past might suggest that they are not.
Thoroughbreds typically grow faster than Warmbloods, and I do not know about Arabians, Quarter Horses, or other breeds.
I do know that it is very important that the growth plates are closed and that the horse is physically ready to do the work being asked or there are likely to be injuries at some point in the training.
The mental maturity should also be considered, but I don’t think that some people would agree with me.
We do not do anything different with our 2 year olds the first 6 – 8 months than what we did when they were yearlings. They are mainly living outside with occasional trips into the barn for the farrier, vet, or grooming.
They might also go to a breed show, so we will work with them in-hand and they will be required to get a bath, have their face trimmed, main pulled, and load on a trailer.
Otherwise they are left alone to continue growing and just be a horse.
The latter part of their 2 year old year we will start teaching them about the lunge line and voice commands.
We also do some free lunging and free jumping, mainly to evaluate their gaits and jumping ability.
This is done in short 15 – 20 minute sessions 2 – 3 times a week.
Once we see how they are reacting to this training and how willing they are to do what we ask, we can decide how long to continue.
Several of our young Warmbloods have responded so quickly and easily that we have only worked with them for a few sessions and then left them alone until the spring of their 3rd year.
We want to see that they are comfortable with the training and that they understand and respond well.
It is great when they are curious about what is happening and like the attention of the training – these horses seem to want to do what you are asking and are just waiting for the next new lesson.
This is what we are trying to achieve with every young horse, some don’t need a lot of repetition to get there while others require frequent, short lessons.
A lot of patience is sometimes required of the trainer, but we really strive to make the training fun and not stressful to the young horse.
It really pays off later when we start asking for more and there is a relationship of trust already established.
What the colt learns in youth he continues in old age. – French Proverb
What do you think about working with 2 year old horses?
Let me know your experiences, thoughts, or comments below.