Rider to Horse Height Ratio? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 05:46 AM Thread Starter
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Rider to Horse Height Ratio?

Since I've moved to New Zealand I've seen and heard a lot of, "Oh, I'm too tall so I can't ride anything under 16hh." or "Selling my horse as I am too tall." or "Couldn't show my horse as I am too tall for it."

Is this a trend or would I actually get docked points at a show for riding a 15hh horse as a woman standing about 5'10"? I have always been very comfortable on horses around 15hh. Since deciding to sell my horse in America I've been researching into horses around here, looking into my options and deciding both what my criteria would be and what I can afford. At 5'10" and roughly 120lbs. Would it be frowned upon for me to get something around 15hh?

Any insight would be much appreciated, thanks.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 05:58 AM
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You're going to laugh, but I'm 5'5" and I ride a 13hh pony. I thought I looked bad on her, since my feet almost hung below her belly, but I was assured by everyone at the barn that we were a good fit. My normal ride is 14.2hh and I feel better on him.

I ride dressage and I can tell you that they don't dock points for appearance, unless it's really horrible, it's entirely your riding.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 06:10 AM
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Never really bought into that to be honest.

Me and my mare are both little, I'm 5'2'' and she's 13.3 so we look good together but I've also seen my 6' dad ride her no problem and my trainer is 5'9'' and rides her no issue.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 06:45 AM
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Depends.

In the US, hunters and hunter seat eq and in some cases, dressage, do concern themselves with suitability. I have seen hunter judges penalize someone obviously too small (tiny child on a men's heavyweight hunter) or too large for their horse (heel, ankle or more below the barrel and visible from the other side of the horse) In equitation, you must have a horse whose barrel takes up your whole leg so you are secure (hs eq riders ride with their whole lower keg snug on the horse, this provides their security in two point) and can use the aids correctly. Also, a very tall or long torsoed rider will have difficulty balancing on a short coupled or short necked horse, and over fences the will invariably weight the front end.

Dressage is a little more forgiving, but you still need to be able to get your lower leg ON the horse when you need to - a rider making dramatic movements with their leg or picking up their heel to use it is distracting.

Much less important in the Western disciplines - they ride with the lowerbleg off the horse, don't get in two point and give cues mostly with their seat.

After all that, it's personal preference.

I still want a horse that takes up my whole leg, but as I age, I like 'em a little closer to the ground.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 07:35 AM
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How strange... I've lived in New Zealand my whole life, and never heard much about that kind of talk here - except when it comes to kids/teens who obviously have outgrown their ponies. I'm 5'4 and overweight and ride both a 15hh and a 14.2hh, but only ever had comments about the length of my old 16.1hh gelding's back to my weight and "breaking" him... albeit that started from a not so pleasant member on here actually. Further, my height matches my ponies, and again... only had the comments about my weight, or their weight, not anything else.

Where abouts in NZ are you, north or south? I'm in Christchurch, and I can't say I know of many people worried about height at all here... considering I know a few people who are slender and tall on 15.1-15.2hh horses and compete well etc.

Personally, if you feel comfortable, and you fit the horse well (height isn't everything, the size of the barrel and other parts of the horse's conformation can take up some leg, or lengthen it etc), then who really cares? As long as it's not an inconvenience for yourself or the pony, I don't find height ratios as big of an issue as you've otherwise experienced!

Good luck!


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post #6 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 07:37 AM
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don't worry about being "frowned" upon its not the height its the weight. I never ever seen ppl frown upon riding something "to tall" or "to small". In Australia you don't get marked down on this human hight to horse hight ratio thing, so probably in Newzealand its the same.

The foolish reject what they see, not what they think,
The wise reject what they think, not what they see.
-Huang Po
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 07:40 AM
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Haha Laineylou, I thought you looked familiar, you contacted me on here, so I actually know whereabouts you are! How very odd, what kind of horse circle/sport interest are you in may I ask? I know mostly showies and a lot of Standardbred owners, so maybe I'm not privy to the other opinions of different circles!!

Anyways, your original question was about showing right? I'm not sure what section you're meaning, but for showing, unless you're in ponies, which 15hh is not, you shouldn't get docked any points for your height. I don't think you do in ponies either, but sometimes the competitors are more critical about height in that section than any judge :(


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Last edited by ohmyitschelle; 04-09-2013 at 07:43 AM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 07:46 AM
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Some depends too on where you carry your height.

If mostly it is above pelvis? That can make you look better on some horses, worse on others.

Longer legged, so if you are all leg on smaller horse? Will look odd possibly.

Depends too on how you ride.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 08:45 AM
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It depends on the horse. There are plenty of 15hh horses who would look and be suitable for your height. However, most show type horses are usually quite finely built and you might need a horse 16hh+ to take up your leg well. I think you could get docked points just because a rider who looks too big on a horse just doesn't look so good.

Like I'm 5'7 and have a 14.3hh pony. She's on the small side but she's fine for me, as she's a QHx. However, I used to have a 16.1hh Thoroughbred and we were a perfect match for size as he was finer. We'd look great in the ring. So I couldn't have a 15hh fine TB but a stock horse, QH type, that's good for me. And I don't care if my horse is on the short side - I don't show or anything.
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