Now, I have to comment on this. The only part of this you are right about is that they are sometimes
easier to get on and it usually
isn't so far to fall (unless they launch you, which they sometimes do
). In my experience, the short horses with short backs are the hardest
horses to ride because they are just so darn quick. A big horse, you can feel when they are about to spook/misbehave and have an opportunity to stick with them, even on a big spook where they spin and/or bolt. Those little short athletic boogers...not so much. They can be spooked, spun around, and bolted 30 feet the other way before you even realize they saw the boogeyman. It's all very cartoonish...where they leave you hanging in the air and it takes a couple of seconds before you realize that they're just...gone.
As for smaller horses being easier to ride and handle...that all depends on their training. I've known lots of 18hh draft horses that were infinitely easier to handle than most standard sized stock horses or even ponies.
I agree that it's definitely the training of the horse and the horse itself that determines how safe it is.
However, I can totally see what Joe is talking about with shorter horses. I feel much safer being lower to the ground and feeling more secure makes me a better rider. I used to think that a fall is a fall, but really, the laws of physics tell me that the higher the fall, the greater the damage....all things being equal.
I think that's the key here. We need to compare apples to apples. If you are comparing a 14 hand hot arab to an 18 hand slow and steady percheron, then of course the perch is going to make the better mount for a beginner like me.
But comparing a steady shorty to a steady tall horse, I'd prefer the shorter horse. I don't think Joe means that you can't get hurt on a shorter horse, it's just that size can definitely matter when talking about an injury.
And honestly, I've found the smaller horses easier to handle as well. I don't think he was saying they are better behaved. Just again, comparing two well behaved horses, the shorter horse is easier to back up, turn around, put away, putting on the tack. I hated reaching up over my head to try to get a halter on. I much prefer to be able to see over a horse's withers when grooming them or doing anything really.
I've found my feelings are common among the middle aged new rider women horsey set, lol. Of course everyone feels differently. I just wanted to explain further what I think Joe meant. I think that he and I are the same "type" of rider. Plus on trails, shorter horses are easier in many ways.
I think if the OP is young and wants a big horse, then get a big horse! Definitely do whatever makes you comfortable. It's all trial and error. You can read all you want but IMO until you are actually out there and trying different horses out, you won't know what you really want. How long that takes is up to you. I plan on taking another 2 years of lessons before even thinking of buying. The more I learn about horses, the more I don't know, if that makes sense.
I think that is what it comes down to. A secure rider is a better rider. Good luck! Happy Horse Hunting!