I am absolutely certain that not all breeders/trainers can be tickled with the same dandy brush, and as a general rule I don't like generalisations. I am trying to be very careful how I say this. If you bought a horse from the gypsies, you wouldn't be surprised to find that the horse has been driven when it was two or that it had been tethered. In the same way you would know that if you bought an ex-racehorse, he might have been broken at two years or even eighteen months old and ridden fast. So the following is certainly not saying that all Irish people treat their horses this way or that other people don't. If you buy a horse from Ireland, you just need to be aware that this is still quite common practice. From one of my readers:
"Just read your BLOG about seeing a few Irish horses and as my Irish side of my
family used to breed and sell horses I know, and I am sure you do, how hard they
are on them. From what I gather from my visits anyway, the youngsters, no matter
how finely bred, are left in a field untouched until 3 years old. They may have
had a halter on and been tied to a post to "teach" them how to tie up at some
time along the way but basically very little time is invested in them. My uncle
used to pay local lads to drive them into the bogs up to their bellies so they
could not move and then the lads would sit on them. When they thought they were
"backed" they hauled them out and then the lads often drove them around the
field, still on them, fast, turning them quickly so they would not buck. Then,
while they are still exhausted, on goes the tack, a few blasts round the field
and off to the sales hopefully to go on the boat to England for lots of lolly.
Sounds awful I know and things may have changed - I hope so. They breed such
good horses over there its a shame their early "education" can be so contrary."