Switzerland Stops Riding Competitions For Three Year Old Quarter Horses

There has been so much debate over whether 2 and 3 year old horses should be showing. In the United States, the AQHA futurity age for reining horses starts at 3 years old. The AQHA futurity age for Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle horses starts at 2 years old. It appears that Switzerland and Germany are setting their own trend!

Do You Think The Minimum Age Horse's Can Compete Should Be 4 Years?

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Do you think this will benefit the horse’s welfare. Would you like to see these same changes being made in the Unites States and world wide? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share this on Facebook if you’d like to see more associations making the same changes!

24 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    They should ban riders and trainers who have less than 10 years experience.

    • Anonymous

      What?! Perhaps you should go live under a communist dictator, considering your dictatorial views.

    • Richard Head

      Hahahahahaha what a joke! While your intent I am sure is positive your sense of reality is not.!

    • Anonymous

      How can you get ten years of experience of you canโ€™t train until you have ten years experience?

  2. Denise Shirey

    If only AQHA, NCHA, and the balance would have the balls to do what’s right for the horse instead of big money trainers and the “horsey mill” breeders in Weatherford, TX, et al. There are now cutting horse youngster coming out of the womb with bad hocks. The colts that are shown in the Futurity aren’t see that often again. They are blown up, lamed, and gone. Do what’s right for the horse. The AQHA is a lobbying firm for trainers, and not a protector of the horse.

    • Anonymous

      Well said! How about reining horses have to be sound to compete?

    • Anonymous

      Ncha futurity horses are in December of their 3 rd year, making them 4 yr olds in 30 days..

      • Erik1986

        Which means they’ve been training reining patterns at two and three years. Fail.

  3. connie stoney

    O M G. No matter how I feel about horses, I feel big about being dictated to about what I can or cannot do with them….. Slippery slope people! Heads up!

    • Linda Williams

      It’s got nothing to do with you and your sacred rights. It’s about animal welfare, not the political bs about “you can’t tell ME what to do”.

    • Bridgit

      Actually, you can still do what ever you like and ruin your horse before it’s 5. You just can’t do it in Switzerland or Germany under their rules!

    • Nancy

      How about not being able to ride them when they are 1 1/2 years old? How about protecting them until their bones are stable and you don’t cripple them? How is that a slippery slope?

  4. Brianna

    No, I think 2 years old jumping competitively is way too early, the horses knees aren’t fully closed and you can cause damage in there development, same thing with Western horses at 3. 4 is definitely a better age to start showing and jumping.

  5. Jacqui

    Bones need time. Having a lame horse at 10 is not acceptable. Patience can be learned from the Arabian horse world.

    • Anonymous

      I so agree, these horses are pushed so hard at such a young age to be competitive, there are way too many crippled young horses out there needing joint supplements and injections to try to keep them sound. So sad that it has come to this.

      • J

        I hear ya. I wirk at a training barn and they’re always injecting or something. Vet did one and says we’ll get him through show season and then do more. Wtf

  6. Anonymous

    Horses are not dusposable. They should be looked after so that they stay sound. Convicted horse abusers should be banned for life…not 2 years.
    Check out kyle r weston, grand prairie…he is still training

  7. Rain

    I think horses under 4 should only be able to show in basic wtc classes… No spins, no speed, no jumping, no collection.

    • Belinda Hansen

      It would definitely help if we banned the young horses from loping competition and had some W/T classes instead for young horse not just green riders!

  8. Debra Schaffer

    I do not even start my horses under saddle til they are 4. Gives them time to grow and mature, both body AND brain wise. I think its horrible people start them at 18 months old to ride and then at two training them for barrels, cutting, racing, reining.
    Its a shame that GREED has taken the place of CARING about the welfare of our horses. A horses back isnt even fused til they are almost 8 yrs old.
    You wouldnt ask your 5 yr old to run the Boston marathon but you would ride a baby at 18 month to 2 yrs old, its the same difference in bone structure!

  9. J. Besley

    My vote is that they should be older than four! Please read this as published in Western Horseman’s,”Natural Horse.Man.Ship” as written by Pat Parelli,

    “One of my favorite stories regarding the time it takes to develop horses revolves around the time I was working with Troy Henry. He was asked to do a sliding stop exhibition on a 15-year-old mare he had. That mare slid farther on specially prepared ground than any horse I’ve seen to date. I asked him about her later and how her age related to the accomplishment. Troy said that by the time a horse was SEVEN years old, he should be basically developed and have around 1,500 hours of time on him. Troy’s 7-year-old horses were as good as everybody else’s 7-year-old horses; but when everybody else’s horses were NINE, they were washed up. When Troy’s horses were FIFTEEN (15), they were better than when they were SEVEN. This was in the days before futurities for 2-and 3-year olds. Troy told me this in 1978. I took this idea and ran with it. But now, in the days of DISPOSABLE HORSES, many horses are washed up at FOUR. This is a major difference between time in Natural Horse-Man-Ship and developing partners for life, and time in normal horsemanship where you have a kindergarten winner today who might never have a tomorrow.” PAT PARELLI

  10. SJ

    Back in 2016 I had the privilege to be present at 16 foal births.
    One of these foals is now mine. I bought him when he was 3 months old.
    All of those foals — bar two — are now under saddle.
    One had a horrible accident and won’t be rideable, ever.
    The other one is mine. He was the first foal born at the stud in 2016 — so all the others are younger than him. He doesn’t know what a bridle is, let alone a saddle.
    He still has baby teeth. He’s nowhere near mature enough to start training under saddle, nor is his bone structure ready.
    When I said he won’t be started until 4, maybe 5, everyone went “He’ll be unmanageable / difficult / too strong –insert reason of choice –” and I went on “…and if he’s not ready at 5, then we wait until 6 or 7.” — which was met with a lot of gasps.
    Horses aren’t matured until they are 6-7 years old. That’s when the spine fuses.
    I don’t want to retire him by age 15-16. I want him to have a long, healthy life. He’s the last horse I’ll ever have, and I plan on him still being around when we’re both old and doddery.
    So well done, Switzerland. Now raise that age another year or two. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Which, of course, isn’t going to stop anyone from training them when they are still babies… :/

  11. Anonymous

    I agree with raising the age for showing under saddle. I have and show Peruvian Horses. There are no classes for horses under saddle til age 3 and very common not to start them under saddle til age 3 or 4. Peruvian Horses also must be barefoot to show. Many of the largest classes are for horses specifically over the age of 12 years old. Its not uncommon to show horses into their late teens.


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