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Effect of early training on the jumping technique of horses

Susana Santamaría DVM, PhD1,2, Maarten F. Bobbert PhD3, Willem Back DVM, PhD4, Ab Barneveld DVM, PhD5, and P. Rene van Weeren DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 2 Present address is Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Large Animal Hospital, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK.
  • | 3 Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, van der Boechorstraat 9, NL-1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • | 4 Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 5 Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • | 6 Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Objective—To investigate the effects of early training for jumping by comparing the jumping technique of horses that had received early training with that of horses raised conventionally.

Animals—40 Dutch Warmblood horses.

Procedure—The horses were analyzed kinematically during free jumping at 6 months of age. Subsequently, they were allocated into a control group that was raised conventionally and an experimental group that received 30 months of early training starting at 6 months of age. At 4 years of age, after a period of rest in pasture and a short period of training with a rider, both groups were analyzed kinematically during free jumping. Subsequently, both groups started a 1-year intensive training for jumping, and at 5 years of age, they were again analyzed kinematically during free jumping. In addition, the horses competed in a puissance competition to test maximal performance.

Results—Whereas there were no differences in jumping technique between experimental and control horses at 6 months of age, at 4 years, the experimental horses jumped in a more effective manner than the control horses; they raised their center of gravity less yet cleared more fences successfully than the control horses. However, at 5 years of age, these differences were not detected. Furthermore, the experimental horses did not perform better than the control horses in the puissance competition.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Specific training for jumping of horses at an early age is unnecessary because the effects on jumping technique and jumping capacity are not permanent. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:418–424)

Abstract

Objective—To investigate the effects of early training for jumping by comparing the jumping technique of horses that had received early training with that of horses raised conventionally.

Animals—40 Dutch Warmblood horses.

Procedure—The horses were analyzed kinematically during free jumping at 6 months of age. Subsequently, they were allocated into a control group that was raised conventionally and an experimental group that received 30 months of early training starting at 6 months of age. At 4 years of age, after a period of rest in pasture and a short period of training with a rider, both groups were analyzed kinematically during free jumping. Subsequently, both groups started a 1-year intensive training for jumping, and at 5 years of age, they were again analyzed kinematically during free jumping. In addition, the horses competed in a puissance competition to test maximal performance.

Results—Whereas there were no differences in jumping technique between experimental and control horses at 6 months of age, at 4 years, the experimental horses jumped in a more effective manner than the control horses; they raised their center of gravity less yet cleared more fences successfully than the control horses. However, at 5 years of age, these differences were not detected. Furthermore, the experimental horses did not perform better than the control horses in the puissance competition.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Specific training for jumping of horses at an early age is unnecessary because the effects on jumping technique and jumping capacity are not permanent. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:418–424)