Thank you Frizzle for your comment on my last post. I think I needed that reminder. :)
Have you all read this article? http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf I have, but it had been a while, so I went back and read it again when she posted it. There was a lot of information in the article that I had forgotten. I knew that most of the growth plates in the legs had closed by 3 and I knew that the growth plates in the back did NOT close until much later, but what I forgot was how important the growth plates in the back are.
I knew when I bought Chrome as a five month old that I was going to have to wait years to ride him. I decided that was okay because I really wanted him. I fell in love with Chrome before I ever met him in person. He's been the best horse I've ever had the pleasure of working (playing) with and I want to do what is best for him. I don't want my impatience to harm him. It's been four years since I've been able to consistently ride horses and that is definitely starting to bother me, especially as now I've been able to ride a friend's horses this past summer. That's just made it even harder lol. I wish there was a place to sign up for riding lessons just so that I could consistently ride every week, but without a horse to practice on I feel that is a little bit like wasting money.
So as much as I want to ride Chrome when he turns three I'm going to try to refrain as much as I can. I'll sit on him on his birthday just because it's something I've been looking forward to for so long and I don't think sitting there for a picture will hurt him, but I'm going to hold off on riding him as much as possible.
So my question is, since a horse's growth plates are mostly closed in his legs at three is it safe then to start longeing then? I want to teach Chrome about using his back through longeing over cavaletti, etc, but I don't want to hurt him with the circles . . . what do you all think? From what she said in the article I don't think it will damage his legs, but I would really like more opinions before I decide (obviously it would only be about three times a week).
The other question is about exercise. Chrome stayed a little fatter than I like over the summer for a young horse because he had free choice graze on thirty acres and I really hope that hasn't caused any problems. He was by no means obese, but you could not see his ribs. So my question is how much exercise does a two and a half year old need? I know it has to be straight lines at this age and I really need to try the ground driving again (although I think it would be easier to teach longing and then ground driving hence my first question), but how often and how much? He still plays with Led Zeppelin, but I can definitely see him calming down and getting lazier as he gets older. I guess depending on him getting his exercise requirements from playing with the donkey is like expecting a dog to get plenty of exercise just because it has a big backyard. Not reliable. The problem also is that our roads are all asphalt so I've tried to limit how much time he spends on them and he usually only walks on it. So any advice on this?
I won't be doing much this winter simply because I am NOT a winter person, but next spring when he turns three I would like to work on the longeing, ground driving, etc. I'm also planning to use clicker training to teach him to use his back at liberty, which is part of the reason we do the Chase the Tiger game because it teaches him to lower his head and raise his back.
Anyway at this point I'm rambling. I really look forward to reading your comments.