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When to break in my Welsh cob or Cross

Started under saddle at 4yo, jumping as 5yo at earliest.



The Welsh cob is well known as a late maturing animal. This means that their bones arent fully formed until they are 5 a half years old. When you mix that with certain lines of late maturing thoroughbred blood to get the Tb X you need to wait for your horse to be strong enough physically to take the pressure of your weight on their young half formed bones and mentally to understand what you mean. From numerous scientific studies on young horses physiology, it has been determined that with late maturing horses, their bones arent fully developed in their back and knees until 5 and a half. That is why we do not jump ours until they are 5yo and usually 6 yo. There are numerous articles on this topic throughout the world.

Those that advocate breaking in the Welsh cob earlier cos it looks mature, are not thinking of the horses future. I am often told about thoroughbreds that are broken in at 2 yo or even earlier- but the other end of that story is not told to you- it is that these one and same horses are usually finished on the race track as a 5 yo and often in pet food by 10 and that an aged thoroughbred 15yo is very lucky. Obviously there are exceptions to this but the majority of thoroughbreds started early end up as pet food very young.

When I breed a Welsh cob I am in for the long haul- this is a partnership I want to nurture and grow, I want to connect with the horse and never ever lose its trust, cos that can take years to get back- if ever.

We have found that the ones we break in ourselves are so much more connected to us, even sending them away to be broken in takes the shine off their trust in us. I am aware that some people may not have the space, gear, confidence or time to break in/start their own horses but think about this cos it changes the dynamic connection between you and the horse.

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Below are some examples of what we have found from breaking in our Welsh cobs and Welsh cob X Thoroughbreds



We broke in a Welsh cob X Tb as a three yo, and spent a year schooling her in dressage, ridden once a week and moved to twice a week towards end of first year but she never was terribly switched onto what we wanted to achieve and was continually behind the riders leg. The rider had to become stronger and stronger to make her go forward. As 4 yo the filly suddenly switched into listening to us - she had a break over the winter and its like she suddenly matured mentally and was interested in what we were trying to achieve.

We started jumping her as a 5 yo, over the next 2 years she entered several jumping shows and won Championships and ribbons. Then she went stale, we found she needed to be inspired, so she went to one Hunt this past winter, what a difference the one Hunt did to her mental state. She gets it now- life is not boring. boring circles, boring tiny jumps- its all fun and she is inspired now. She has been ridden right through the winter doing many local training competitions with child riders and now as 8 yo she is lively, forward, excellent in fact.

In her second campaign at Showhunter Category C ponies at HOY she won a class, came 2nd and 6th out of 42 riders. We are so proud of our lovely mare. ---------------------------------------------------

Another Welsh cob mare wasnt started until she was 6 years old, she was so eager to be ridden, she has been forward and keen since day one. She gated at 5 Hunts last season and has a heck of a gallop, she can keep up with anyone on the hunt field despite being just 13-3hh and carrying 80 kgs.

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We are currently starting a rising 5 yo Welsh cob X tb under saddle. He has never left this property. We first put a saddle on him as 4 yo in Autumn but ran out of time and went back to him this winter, after a 3 day reminder course of double lunging and ground work he has been ridden 3 times. He is first to gallop up and shoves his head in the halter, I cannot catch another horse but him, he chases others away until he is taken out of the paddock, he loves the saddle, covers, everything, the coolest horse ever. He went to a ribbon day and won his first class, he gated at 5 hunts and now he is turned out for the rest of the winter.

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We have a Welsh cob x Tb foal whose dam died at 6 weeks old, she was fed milk in a bucket hanging on a gate until 4 mo- she became very attached to the gate not humans- we were very careful to maintain respect for humans and through this period she was accompanied by a gentle yearling filly. We started her as a 4 yo, from the get go she has been ridden regularly and reasonably hard - starting with Endurance rides- no more than 30 kms at a time, she did a total of 200 kms and she has been forward after the first couple of rides.

As a 6yo she started jumping, she was very stuck at first would not go forward, terrified of the whole thing, new surroundings always got her frightened but with persistance and peserverance she has blossomed into a fabulous scopey jumper. She hunted last season doing about 20 hunts. She is doing her first registered Showhunter shows this season as a 7yo. She is very connected to our son and is overjoyed when he catches her from the field, she makes a deep purring sound with her nostrils when ridden by him, this means she is really happy and relaxed.

My husband - who only learnt to jump 2 years ago on my bombproof cob- won the Northland Lowhunter Series on this mare. Evben my 12 yo daughter jumps her in the warm up ring- she is very sweet and lives to jump. I am returning to jumping after a 19 year break and this mare is the one taking me over the jumps under the tutelage of Jill Ullrich.