Height Pet Peeve - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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Height Pet Peeve

I must admit to having a slight pet peeve. I don't understand why (particularly in english riding) there is such a massive focus on the horse's height. A friend of mine who is 5'6" feels that she needs a 16+ hh horse to look decent. In my experience, it's more a matter of the horse's barrel. If you get on a narrow 17 hh Thoroughbred, your legs are likely to look long even on them whereas if you get on a broad 14hh draft pony, they're likely to take your leg right up.

So many fantastic horses are passed up because the 5'5"+ riders automatically assume they're too small to really amount to much.

At least the 6+ foot cowboys seem to understand that their 15 hh QH can pack them through thick and thin with energy left to burn at the end of the day.
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post #2 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 04:27 AM
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I'm 5'2 and I show and ride my two draft horses in english pleasure and starting very low level dressage. I know I don't need big and could easily fit on a much much smaller horse, I just like the feel of big. The movement to me is different and it's just my preference.
When I was showing and eventing under a different trainer 8 years ago (wow that's a long time!) I was leasing one horse for everything but hunter jumper. When I was showing hunter jumper I rode a 15 hand stocky mare that could jump better than the TB and was a great horse to show on. However if the two had switched heights it would have been miserable to ride them.
However, during that time I was also apprenticing on learning to train draft horses for under saddle work and that's where my heart truly is.
If I were to get another horse now, it may not be a draft but it would definitely be over 17 hands with a thick build because I like the feeling of big and tall.

Now one of my trainers students is growing out of her pants at the moment, her parents are tall and her pony is looking shorter and shorter underneath her. She's not at all phased by it and said she'll ride him until her toes drag on the ground. On the other hand, one of my friends dads is average height but because of his body build and slight ego he believes he needs to ride a giant. I'm not going to argue and I think he knows he could easily ride something much smaller than 16+ hands, in his own words "I feel too big" so in his case I think it would be a matter of girth/barrel on the horse to make him feel secure on anything less than 16 hands.
To each his own.

I totally understand where you're coming from though! Sorry for the novel.

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Last edited by drafts4ever; 10-03-2010 at 04:30 AM.
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post #3 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 04:49 AM
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Eolith I could not agree with you more !
There is too much based on height .... Im 5"7' and I ride my 13.3hh & 14.2hh Arabians just fine. I dont think I look silly

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post #4 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 04:58 AM
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I don't just have long legs, I have a long torso too. So I like to ride a taller horse, because I like the balanced look that is desired in English riding. Not saying that tall people on short horses are out of balance, just to my mind I don't want to ride like that.

Having said that, if I were to start looking for a horse again, I would consider anything from about 15hh and up. My preferred height for me is 16.2hh, but I have owned shorter horses. I don't want to be the tall girl riding that horse that looks like a pony, but I have a large-ish range in terms of heights that I would consider.

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post #5 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 07:12 AM
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I once had a 15.1h TB cross who was looked at with "horror" by one of the other english riders. She was a cross and too short and had a slight roman nose and a slight parrot mouth. She owned a 16h TB mare with papers. We went to a show..her horse wouldnt load (hehe) so she asked to ride my mare in her jumping class (I was only doing flat classes) and I said sure. Well, she pulled up my mare half way through the class...too much horse :P Tried to tell her that she really enjoyed to jump and had been very competitive in the past...but all she was worried about was her height. Or her lack thereof. Me...I could care less.
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post #6 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Eolith View Post
At least the 6+ foot cowboys seem to understand that their 15 hh QH can pack them through thick and thin with energy left to burn at the end of the day.
I'm 6'4", all our Paint mares are 14.2-15hh, and this is indeed all we care about...steady and reliable, anywhere we go, all day, everyday, and that big barrel takes up a lot of leg.

Just don't call them ponies (that annoys them)

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On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #7 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 03:24 PM
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Hi, i am english an wandered if you would mind my point of view...
In england normally the balance of the horse and rider is judged apon.
in a hunter for example, the horse is desired to be of a stocky build and also to be about 15hh, it is a typical view of a hunting horse. in dressage the horse is desired to be a lean, tall high standing horse, as movements are seen to be alot smoother, jumping is where things change...
normally classes are divided : under 14.2 and 14.2 and over. this is just so that advanced adults on horses dont have to compete against novice juniors on ponies,

In my eyes, if your happy riding a 14.2 and your 6 ft......go for it...i am 5'9'' and have a 13.2, a 14.0, a 16.2ish and a 17hh
i ride them all and love it!!!!
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post #8 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 03:30 PM
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im 5'5 and i loooove my little 14.2 arabian he carrys me around just fine and because he ahs a wider barrel my legs look shorter :] . Plus a bonus is being closer to the ground and easier to get on and off of hah Of course i also used to ride a 16+ hand thoroughbred gelding whom i LOOVED he also had a wide barrel and i looked right on him

just a small town girl with a big town dream :]
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post #9 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 03:36 PM
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I am not tall but prefer a horse that is 16+ hh. I like the way they move. Just my preference. I think it is more about what you prefer in movement more than what you look like on a horse. JMHO!

I bought my first shorter type horse last summer when I was looking for a new horse. Rosie was 15hh and a tank. Took up more leg than any of my larger horses did but I hated the way she felt under me. I like the long strides of those long legs :)
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post #10 of 56 Old 10-03-2010, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DanniS View Post
in dressage the horse is desired to be a lean, tall high standing horse, as movements are seen to be alot smoother
I'm not sure I agree with this statement. The current 'fad' is to have a high-stepping giant, but that hasn't always been the case. And it hardly means that they move any more smoothly than a smaller horse. That has more to do with conformation, training and so on. Length of stride is one thing, fluidity is another thing entirely.

I found this out fairly recently. I ride a 13.2 hh Welsh Cob regularly and love her gaits. Her canter in particular is just to die for... buttery smooth. Later I was asked to ride a 13.1 hh New Forest in a show. No problem! I thought, I'm used to riding the ponies. WRONG. The New Forest moved like a jackhammer: short, stiff, rapid strides that proved nearly impossible for me to sit well.

It didn't have anything to do with their height... it was all in other factors of training and conformation.
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