What makes a “youth horse”?

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by spec, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. spec

    spec Full Member

    Feb 10, 2016
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    Hey guys! We all see horses advertised as “kid broke” or “youth friendly”.... but In your opinion, what makes a youth horse, a youth horse? Obviously no horse is 100% safe; riding is a risky sport regardless... but we all know there are some we trust and others we never will. I am always skeptical when I see a “kid safe” 3-year-old being advertised. But then again, I have met a few gentle 3y/o’s I would probably trust with a kid. Do you think there’s a bottom age for a youth horse?

    (Clearly there are some exceptions... a few rare 4th graders who can handle the rank ones... but I’m talking about your average 9 year old beginner kid).
  2. LoveTrail

    LoveTrail Senior Member

    Mar 29, 2011
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    We tried out a "Children's Hunter" when my daughter was 12. He was not broke for a 12 year old. I think he was an OTTB. He took off, had no whoa and the jumps were in the middle of the arena so she was afraid to circle him and have him jump one at three feet and more, her feet came out of the stirrups when he took off at gallop. He went around the arena twice where the trainer and I couldn't get him to stop. Finally my daughter fell off and hurt her shoulder. Messed her up for jumping and gave her a fear of hotter horses. She had been fearless before that. If he was truly a Children's Hunter it was for older teenagers, not a preteen.

    So kid safe may mean safe for a teenager or safe for a seven year old, but you don't know until you see the horse. I had passed on another without my daughter even riding it because it couldn't stand still just tied up and of course didn't want a wind sucker.

    Ironically my daughter's first horse was a three year old, but he was an old soul. He's still a highly regarded beginner HMS horse in the IEA and as a lesson horse at now 18 for HMS and reining.
  3. PyroTekNik333

    PyroTekNik333 Senior Member

    Jul 22, 2008
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    Youth horse to me means its been successfully shown by a youth.
    Skill levels vary even among youth so beyond that it tells me nothing.
    Beginner safe is a whole other catagory. Kid safe yet another.
    And as always with buying anything its buyer beware. Not all people are particularly honest.
  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2004
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    The child will not be in tears or in an ambulance after the ride.....
  5. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2011
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    When I hear "youth horse", I think of a horse that is/has been successfully shown in a discipline and is tractable enough for a "youth" to safely show in that discipline. Youth does not mean inexperienced to me, it just means not an adult. I have been involved with some youths that were absolutely excellent horse people and did not need a kid horse or even a gentle horse. They needed a trained horse.

    As mentioned above, youth horse and kid horse are not the same. A beginner youth horse is not for an experienced youth and a kid horse is not usually for a youth since that term, to me, does not indicate any training or show experience but does indicate a kind and gentle animal I could "safely" put my grand kids on and not expect it to buck, bolt or rear. I have seen many kid horses, even have several kid mules now, that I would not consider youth mules since they are not trained in any specific discipline, have never been shown and are simply those "worth their weight in gold" kind and gentle animals that anyone can ride.
    kodemiester likes this.
  6. CJ

    CJ Senior Member

    Mar 20, 2004
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    we had to evaluate all the camp horses that came in for use, skill level and kid compatibility. I think the youngest we had was a 3 or 4 year old. Until somebody looked in his mouth (soon luckily) he was considered Dumb as a Box of Rocks for his total lack of response to basic cues. He was in fact broke to saddle and otherwise pretty much a blankslate..ok clueless... but very very forgiving.
    Most of the others ranged @8-16 yrs.
    They had to be quiet, responsive to reins and heels, without Over reacting. They had to be vice free, no kicking, biting, crowding, evade mounting, or rearing bolting under saddle. One pair checked all those boxes separately, but had to have a horse between them on trail rides, or would squabble (one kicking match broke out). The rearer was foundered, the bolter also went home (to stock ranch.)
    One of the best and favorites put up with a kid balancing on his mouth, but would detour across the ring halfway with future riders, til we put him in hackamore and let his mouth heal, and he went back to his sweet cooperative forgiving self ways.
    BO bought her 12 yr old a shetland/ welsh pony starter. It was sweet enough, but would act like it 'had had a stroke' when it didnt want to work/ any more. I kid you not and experienced it 1st hand, would stiffen and not turn in one direction (eg left) until pointed toward the barn. Then it was capable of all gaits, head set, and serpentine circles, unless turned away from the barn.
    It was replaced by an Arab pony that was maybe 15 (sold as 12) and BO kept for the rest of its life, another 15. That pony would pack people if novice, by turns in one lesson or back to back lessons. Once some idiots worked her into a sweat in March weather and she was just happy to be turned loose, and yet willing to be caught, for a necessary rubdown. She was lowman on the totem pole in the herd, but never showed teeth or feet to the people around her. She did however show, and pic not to o long before she passed show her with kids aboard and ribbons on reins.
    Finding a pony like that may be partly luck, but it youre looking for a kid safe starter, thats what you want to find. Kind, quiet, honest, sane and healthy.
    A kids horse especially may require a test period for suitability and sanity, with a return or exchange policy agreed to in the beginning.
    Return or exchange clause is how BO got rid of the wel-shet and replaced with the Arab pony, without being stuck with a dud or out $$.
    Binca likes this.
  7. Binca

    Binca Senior Member

    Mar 18, 2014
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    In my area it tends to be "kid horse" or "teen horse". The teen horses tend to be suitable for a confident/more experienced teen who want to get out and compete on something that is an upgrade on their kid horse. Then the kid horse in theory should be safe for the kid/s to ride at their experience level - so safe on lead for the real little kids, safe off lead under instruction, safe off lead under supervision, etc. Sometimes you get a really good cross over, that can do both.

    Josh is like that. He is safe for kids to ride on and off lead. He was borrowed by an instructor where I used to keep him, and he took on a lot of nervous beginners and taught them to walk, trot, even canter. In particular was a 13yo girl who lost her confidence with previous lease horses so mum was just getting her to do lessons again. She regained a lot of confidence on Josh. So when the instructor stopped instructing, I agreed to let the girl come up once a week to keep riding him, and she took lessons on him with my old dressage coach who was a bit excited to be coaching Josh again, even though it was someone different on board.

    She even took Josh out to a local (but fairly big/busy) show where she competed him both ridden and led, and a few times ended up competing against some of the top adults in the area for champion ribbons. They did very well together. The girl no longer rides him because I moved him to a new property - but she now has her own horse again which is really awesome.

    Before I moved another 13yo girl rode him too. She was much more experienced and was (still is) a serious upcoming eventer. She has her own good horses for it, but really liked Josh so I said she could have a ride. Josh loves jumping anyway, and I'm not really a jumper, so I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to have some fun over jumps. Wow she got him going really well - and over much higher jumps than I would ever have the courage to do! He was a completely different horse for her than he is for a younger child or nervous beginner.

    But in saying that, he is also pretty old and experienced. I don't think he would have been a kid or beginner horse when he was younger. He certainly wasn't when I got him. But I believe he has mostly been owned by confident teens, so he has probably been a good "older youth" horse for a fair bit of his life. He has certainly traveled around the country at any rate with different owners, dabbling at different disciplines. Now he is semi retired and loving life out in a big paddock with his boys. He does really enjoy coming out and being ridden though, so I try to ride him as much as I can. So does my beginner mother in law, who just loves to plod around at a walk and slow trot with him.

    And because I just spent way too long talking about my wonderful old man, here is the most recent photo I could find of the out of control beast who. I took a short cut to his paddock so I entered it from some fencing nowhere near the gate where his halter is, so I "caught" him with my jumper and led him to the gate.
  8. Kristal H

    Kristal H Senior Member

    Jan 19, 2016
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    A youth horse is a healthy, sound, well trained horse that has proven itself in competition and is able and ready to be a mount for a JR rider to learn, grow and compete on as safely as possible.

    These horses are typically expensive due to the extensive training invested in them. They and sold by word of mouth, or contacting trainers and letting them know to call you when one comes available.

    My daughters first youth horse was the most expensive horse that I had purchased. She had 4 years of training with a top trainer and had proven herself as a show horse at National level shows. I had contacted this trainer several times over several months letting them know that I was looking and when the horses owner was badly injured in an auto accident, I was called and the horse was purchased immediately with the contingency of passing a vet exam.

    A youth horse is not a horse that has been injured or has arthritis an can no longer compete at a top level, a small horse does not automatically equal a youth horse. A untrained,unshown horse is never a youth horse prospect.

    My daughters first youth horse.

    equinitis and kodemiester like this.
  9. ChestersMomma

    ChestersMomma Senior Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 17, 2008
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    When I think of a youth horse (versus "just" a "kid safe" horse), I think of a well-trained, reliable, and patient animal. He or she doesn't have to be the cream of the crop to earn that designation, but with effort from the child there is opportunity for success in the ring. I would expect the mount to be level-headed and predictable but not necessarily easy. A youth horse would help the youth become their best by not allowing the rider to be lazy, but would not get in the way of the rider's education by being lazy or pig-headed them self.

    ETA: On the other hand, when someone designates "kid safe", I simply think of a patient more dead-head type horse that is going to compensate a fair amount for their rider.
    kodemiester, equinitis and CJ like this.
  10. kodemiester

    kodemiester Senior Member

    Oct 7, 2008
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    Enjoying seeing what everyone see's as a "youth" vs "kid" horse.

    As I think about the two.. I think my gelding fits the profile of both "youth" and a "kid" horse. For a youth rider who wants to advance their skills, he will make them "work" for it, but with out being a butthead about it. He's easy to ride, and patient, but in order for him to show/work at his best, you have to work for it, and actually ride him. Also being a WP horse, he has a lot of "buttons".

    But on the other hand, if I were to stick a complete beginner or a kid on him, he would plod along quietly and not go any faster than they made him lol

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