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Re: [RC] 20 MT and Little Big Man - Diane Trefethen

And we don't say "it's the horse owner's right to decide when his horse is old
enough."  Why are we less concerned about protecting children than we are about
protecting our horses?

I don't think that we are less concerned about protecting children than our horses. The first question to ask is, "Why does the AERC impose an age restriction on horses and is the same thinking applicable to children?" The biggest reason for an age restriction on horses is that they are not physically mature enough to withstand the rigors of Distance Riding at speed ("at speed" being a minimum of 5mph). Competing at speed results in substantially more concussion to a horse's entire body than slow trail riding and this concussion, combined with carrying the additional weight of a rider and tack, damages a young horse's still-growing body. Secondarily, there is a distinct advantage to a rider to compete on a talented horse so that without an age restriction, an otherwise caring owner might choose to compete a young horse thinking that since it wasn't against the rules, it couldn't really be a bad thing. Even over long distances, concussion, for a well-schooled rider, is not an issue. Neither are children required to carry any additional weight. The parts of the rider's body that are stressed a great deal are the various muscle groups. Compare that to mogul bashing on skis. In that sport, there are tremendous G's inflicted on bones, joints and tendons, sharply and repetitively. Riding a horse, even 50, 75 or 100 miles produces no stresses even remotely equivalent to a day of mogul runs. As to benefits to the parents of child riders, there aren't any, unless you count bragging rights :)

Another consideration is the horse's inability to say no. It could balk to protest moving if it didn't want to, but with horses at rides, one usually sees the opposite problem... and the younger the horse, the more likely that it will want to run. With young children, on the other hand, "No" is a household word. Then there's the whining. It takes a great deal of stamina to put up with a negative, whining kid. Ask anyone who's had to drive across the country with one in the back seat! So if you have a child whom YOU want to do Distance Riding, and the child doesn't want to... it won't.

So the reasons for having a rule against competing young horses are not applicable to kids. Are there other reasons to impose age restrictions on children? If so, that is where the focus of any discussion should be.


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[RC] 20 MT and Little Big Man, Bruce Weary
Re: [RC] 20 MT and Little Big Man, Joe Long