Ponies and tall riders
For a year or two, when I first started riding, I was taken lessons at a barn with school ponies and horses. Seeing as I grew fast during that period, I outgrew many of the ponies there. When I first started, I comfortably rode a sassy little shetland pony. But only a couple months later, the trainer decided that I was too tall for her. (I have always been a healthy weight, but I just got too tall apparently.)
Now I was wondering. How does one "outgrow" a horse? One horse I used to ride was 14.1 hands. I knew he could carry people much heavier than me comfortably, but I just looked a little tall on him. Why do people want a horse that is big enough for them when a pony can easily carry people that look tall on him? I heard that if the horse is too small for you it can effect your balance, even if he can carry you. Please share thoughts!
Well I have a 15.2 horse, and I feel too talk for him! Once you reach a certain height on a horse, you just look kind of "awkward". Even though you may not be too heavy for the horse, you might just not look right on it anymore. Like when I was breaking out a 2 yr old, my legs hung below his belly, and it was harder to tell him to go forward, so that could be part of the reason too.
There are several factors involved. Some is dictated by fashion and sport involved in. For example - in dressage it is fashionable to have really tall horses even for short people where in some western events like cutting a smaller horse is prefered even for large men.
It also depends on the build of the animal. A wide but otherwise well proportioned animal is going to look better with a taller person than a narrow horse of the same height - even if that person is light enough for both to ride. The larger barrel is just going to take up leg better.
I'm 5'8 and rode a 13.3 hand haflinger for years. He had a wide barrel and could go all day long with me. We had no problems as a team until we started riding more rugged terrain with really steep inclines/declines in the knobs. With our height ratio, going down hill on the steep could be a challenge to balance because I would feel top heavy on him. And if I was feeling off balance - I'm sure he was!
So it depends on the build of you, the pony in question, and the type of riding you are doing.
I competed a 14.1 hh pinto pony for years and nobody every tried to tell me I was too big for him, but he was pretty stout and wide, so he took up a lot of my long legged-ness (I'm about 5'8").
It's very individual.
I'm about 5'1 or 5'2, so quite short, but personally I prefer larger horses. My gelding is 15.1 and a half, and my filly is 16hh+ [not 100% sure, haven't sticked her]. I can ride anything from about 12hh upwards, weight wise, but anything under about 13.2 [depending on the back length of the individual pony] I have to ride bareback because I ride in quite a large saddle. I cannot ride in anything smaller than 16 inch and that is REALLY pushing it, my personal saddles are 17.5 inch [synthetic dressage and jump] and 17 inch [leather Stubben dressage] and the 17 inch is a teeny tiny bit little for me but not so bad that it's a problem.
I might be tiny and very slender but I have very long legs/thighs for my size.
I am most comfortable on a galloway [14-15h] or a horse 16h+; for some reason anything between those heights feels "the wrong size" and I feel unsafe. I don't trust my gelding even though he is a very safe ride 99% of the time and knows his job, whereas I do trust my filly who is not quite broke yet [ten rides I think??] and highly sensitive, and can be volatile. And has bucked me off. AND is, I think, cold-backed.
The photo I have attached, in show attire, is of me on my gelding, with stirrups two holes shorter than usual so that I looked like I fit him better. He is VERY chunky, you would never guess he's an Anglo Arab. I get asked regularly if he's a QH.
The photo of me in the vest on the chestnut is of me on my filly, stirrups at "normal" length. Excuse the chinstrap of my helmet, I did it up as soon as I realized. She is 16hh+ and quite slender. I attached two pics of her to show the difference between when I first get on and when she's had some time to warm up/get used to the idea of me being on her back, she humps up SOOO much!
And then the photos of me on the little grey, I sold him in... early 2011? And grew an inch or two after that. He was 12.1, and I was wayyyy tall on him, but never got asked about it because I'm so slender. Nobody ever believes me when I say I'm about 109lb. First photo at dressage length, second photo over fences [excuse my shocking position, it was nearly 3 years ago now!] and third photo at jumping length sitting still... again excuse position!
People don't wonder at tall riders on ponies, it happens all the time around here [especially on the bratty ponies!]. But, I do find that it's easier to stay on a bigger horse if they start throwing antics. The number of times that little grey brat bucked me off isn't even funny, and his bucks were never very big either, there just was nothing to hang onto [and I can ride through a pretty big buck, had done so maaaaaany times before I got Edward].
I'm 5'9" and ride a 14hh pony.. Hehe:oops:
Its not by choice-- i look so silly on her-- but nothing she can do can throw me off-- i can almost wrap my legs around her whole barrel, (bareback) so thats a positive i suppose.. well, for me..
Id much rather a 16.3hh horse-- or at least a horse thats 15.3/16hh.. i just feel safer on a taller, stockier, horse-- just my opinion.. the hubby says i look good on our 14hh mare, but i know i look too tall on her-- my legs hang down by her knees, lol..
Loved everyone's posts. (:
I have a thing for ponies. They're just the cutest. I think that a pony really stands out in the show ring opposed to the typical, big horses. Not to mention they can ace those sharp turns in the jumpers better than any tall warmblood.
Unfortunately they can't jump as high...*sigh*
It's all about perception. I'm 5'8" and not a small person, and I do prelim eventing on a 15.1hh TB. I'm sure some people would argue that I'm "too big" for her, but she packs me around just fine and we positively FLY together. She's quick and catty and I wouldn't change a thing about her!
If the horse has enough barrel to take up your leg, then I don't see a problem. My legs aren't hanging super long on my horse. Some horses have a small barrel, and that's where people run into "looking too big", regardless of the horses's size. Many ponies have a big barrel that takes up a larger rider's leg just fine, it just depends on the horse and how they're built.
Lenamore for example....
This horse has been to 7 Badmintons, 6 Burghley's, 2 Olympics (Beijing & London) and one WEG (Aachen)
He is 20 yrs old (rising 21) and is showing no signs of wanting to slow down. His owner & his rider were wanting to retire him after London, but it appears he will be still belting around 4* courses this season.
Lenamore at Cottsmore Leap, the largest XC fence in the world
Lenamore at London Olympics
Guess how tall he is??
17hh? 16.3hh? 16hh? Nope
He is 15.3hh and still kicking the butts of horses way bigger than him.
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