Poll Recap: Young Horse Ownership

Of the 634 respondents, 531 (81%) said they have owned a horse 4 years old or younger.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Owning and working with young horses can be both rewarding and challenging. On one hand, you get to watch your young horse mature and develop right before your eyes. On the other hand, there are learning curves, growing pains, and days that are just plain difficult.

Have you ever owned a horse 4 years old or younger? We posed this question to our readers in last week’s online poll. More than 600 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 634 respondents, 513 (81%) said they have owned a young horse, while the remaining 121 (19%) said they have not.

Additionally, more than 130 people commented on their experiences with young horses:

Several people commented that they currently own a young horse:

  • “I own a 3-year-old Arabian stallion and he is the definition of a little boy.”
  • “A 3-going-4-year-old OTTB filly who had been retrained as an eventer. She's the sweetest girl ever, brave and smart.”
  • “I just purchased a 4-year-old Friesian Sport Horse so our journey is just beginning.”
  • “Dozens of them over 50 years; currently I have a 4-year-old Connemara.”
  • “Right now I own eight under 4 years old: six coming yearlings and two 2-year-olds. I like teaching babies.”
  • “We currently have one 3-year-old, but we have raised many foals in past years.”
  • “I have a 3-year-old gelding. He's well-broke, just needs a lot of experience.”

Others said they have owned young horses in the past:

  • “I bought my Quarter Horse at 3 and she's 8 now.”
  • “I have owned several young horses. Some were born to my mares and others were purchased at 2 or 3 years.”
  • “I had three. The current one is a Mustang who loves the groundwork. One is my dressage sweetie.”
  • “I got an almost-3-year-old Thoroughbred filly. Trained her myself for eventing. I still have her 15 years later and love her.”
  • “She was a spunky Quarter Horse. She was 2 years old.”
  • “I owned my last horse from weaning to his death at age 22. My current horse was 3 when I rescued him.”
  • “I've owned a homebred AQHA filly, a 4-month-old AQHA colt, and 5-month-old Haflinger colt. All were fun but challenging.”
  • “I retrained a 3-year-old OTTB and trained my current horse from when he was a weanling.”
  • “Yes, I have had several young horses. I very much enjoy working with them.”
  • “I've had two and they were both great horses! Two of the best horses I've had!”
  • “I bought her 12 years ago off the Internet (the Internet was pretty new then). Great decision!”
  • “My first horse was a 3-year-old Appaloosa. She was so easy to start. I'm too old now to fool with babies!”
  • “Every horse I have owned (besides homebreds) were under 5 and off the track.”

Several more respondents said they have raised their horses themselves:

  • “I raised several foals from my mares. Raising and training for my own use has been great fun!”
  • “I’ve had several homegrown horses over the years. It gets much harder as I get older.”
  • “I helped my 21-year-old gelding enter the world. I'm his 'other mother.' His trust in me is endless!”
  • “I have raised two foals (both fillies) from birth, one each from my Arab and Quarter Horse mares.”
  • “I bred two of my own youngsters. I found that it was easier to train them myself as they were used to me.”
  • “I raised my AQHA mare from a weanling, and now I'm raising her 2015 filly.”
  • “I bred my own riding horse, but she had an accident at age 1 and can't be ridden. I still have her at age 16.”
  • “We raise American Quarter Horses, so we have some at all ages.”
  • “My first horse was purchased at 6 months, and since that time I've raised 10 horses from birth.”
  • “Yes, I have raised a couple of foals and still have them aged 28 and 18 years.”
  • “I have bred and raised eight foals. Though it’s certainly not for everyone, it has been very rewarding.”
  • “It's been absolutely great and rewarding. We've raised several foals to maturity and they went to good homes.”
  • “My now 11-year-old Arabian gelding was born and raised on my property.”
  • “I love raising babies and bringing them on to have productive careers in and out of the show ring.”
  • “I raised two fillies from a once-in-a-lifetime mare and kept them responsibly until we lost them 28 at 29.”
  • “I raised my own show horse from breeding the mare to riding it. It was a very good experience, but expensive.”

Some people shared advice and things they had learned from owning a young horse:

  • “Young horses are like people--some are more mentally mature than others.”
  • “Just like human kids, they are full of energy and ready to play. Keep the camera ready!”
  • “It’s like taking care of a 2-year-old child!”
  • “Love, respect, and discipline consistently. Persistent in all areas.”
  • “It’s hard not to spoil the youngsters; they can be so mischievous, curious, playful, and affectionate.”
  • “They are a lot of fun, and a lot of work.”
  • “They keep you on your toes!”
  • “She was too much for the experience level that I had for horse ownership at that time.”
  • “It is so enlightening and entertaining watching them learn and figure things out.”
  • “It is time consuming and some call it work, but I found it rewarding with a lot of gratification.”
  • “I use a checklist of everything a young horse needs to know, and check it off as each horse learns it.”
  • “They require lots of attention, patience, and ground work, especially the hot breeds.”
  • “You get the best bond starting with a younger horse.”
  • “It's exciting, scary, and unpredictable. Get expert help when needed.”
  • “Those first years set them up for life. Train them correctly the first time.”
  • “Best thing I have ever done, but also the hardest!”
  • “Challenging, dangerous, fun, and worthwhile. Tremendous commitment of time and money, beyond normal.”
  • “Hard not to 'baby' the baby. Need to discipline the baby or you will end up with a nightmare.”
  • “They need lots of time and patience. A good investment if you have the time.”
  • “A lot of work, dedication, and 'watchouts!' They're learning everything!”
  • “She was amazing, and many times outsmarted me, but I learned a lot from my mare.”

A few individuals said they have not owned a young horse:

  • “I have not owned a young horse.”
  • “I haven't, but I really want to though.”
  • “Personally no, but I'm in charge of anywhere from 20 to 40 weanlings to 2-year-olds every year.”

And others left general comments:

  • “I love the spit and fire in youngsters, but I like the experience and calm a few more years offers.”
  • “I have bred two horses. It was a lovely experience, but tough as there are many challenges.”
  • “I would do it again!”
  • “I'll take a young goober over an older horse I have to fix anytime!”
  • “It’s highly rewarding to train from foal to adult.”
  • “I’ve trained many, easier than training older horses!”
  • “I enjoy the bonding from birth to adult. It allows for a greater level of trust.”
  • “I have bred several babies, rescued a number, and a few young horses under 4.”
  • “Good experiences.”
  • “The most wonderful experience in the world is to raise your own foal and guide it and nurture it.”
  • “What was I thinking?!”
  • “I really like working with young horses and have done it all my life. I'm 52 and have one more to break.”

Learn more about managing young horses, nutritional requirements of foals and growing horses, health conditions common in young horses, and use this cheat sheet on TheHorse.com to make sure your youngster is getting the care he needs. 

This week, we want to know: Do you pull your horse's shoes during the winter? Tell us why or why not! Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls.

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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