How tall is too tall and how short is TOO short? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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How tall is too tall and how short is TOO short?

Maybe this started while I was admiring someone's Arabian last week...she was the tallest Arab I've ever seen...15.2-15.3. Giganta-Arab. Most of the ones I've looked at have been 14-15.1ish. But since then, I've been noticing and reading about short horses.
I was contemplating going to look at a mare...who seemed like a deal..And then learned she's only 14.2. Barefoot, and only 4 years old..But do 4 year olds typically grow anymore?
Reba (the midget mustang) grew a bit at that age, but I wonder if it's typical for them to grow anymore after that point?
I'm kind of tall is too tall and how short is too short?
I'M TALL. I'm 5'8" and 144 pounds. So what height horse would I ideally look for? 16-17 hand horses sort of well...freak me out. Not saying I wouldn't get one, but I struggle getting on at that height, and I feel like you have quite a bit more distance to the ground if off unexpectedly.
Would a horse that's 14.2 be too small for someone as big as me?
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 09:14 PM
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I think you need to look at the build more than height. I'm 5'9 and ride a haflinger who is 14 hands when he stands on his tip-toes but nice and stocky. I've been riding him for 6.5 years now and I am very comfortable on him. On the other hand I have ridden horses over 15 hands that I was not comfortable on because they were too narrow.

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post #3 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 09:18 PM
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Not at all. Depends on if you're comfy on the horse once you're on board. If you look at show pictures of Mountain and Moorland classes, there are some fairly tall riders riding the little native breeds. You may find on a finely built 14.2hh you're not as comfy as you are on a stockier built 14.2hh. I'm shorter than you but I've found I prefer riding taller horses that have some substance but if I'm riding a small horse then I prefer one with a finer build. For some reason I just don't feel comfy on a 14.2hh cob but I feel fine on a 16.3hh ID that's even wider. It's how you feel while riding.

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post #4 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 09:22 PM
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I am 5'5" and my gelding is 16.2hh. I am not comfortable on anything under 15hh.
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post #5 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 10:00 PM
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I'm 5'9" and 145lbs and my mare is 14.1. But she is very wide so she takes up a lot of leg and I feel very secure on her, even bareback. I mean, my legs do dangle down a little lower than her belly/chest area but only by a few inches and I've never been told that I look too big for her, so I'm not really worried.

I definitely second what everyone says about the horse's build being more important than height.

Also, just for kicks, over the summer, at my camp, there was a gelding that was like magic. You'd look at him and he'd be maybe 14hh, just eyeballing. But then, you'd get on him and suddenly, he was like 17hh. I don't know what it was about that horse, but when you were in the saddle you felt like you were riding a freaking giant but out of the saddle, he was short!

Another random story: at my camp there's this little QH pony who's maybe 13.2hh on a tall day. However, she is the WIDEST thing I have EVER seen (she's built like a tank, short legs on an average sized body). She's so wide that I put a long legged guy who's over 6ft tall on her over the summer, and his feet were barely lower than her barrel. It was like how I am on Lacey, only the horse made Lacey look like a giant!

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post #6 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 10:01 PM
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If you get a very built horse then you could go under 15hh, but I would encourage maybe something between 15-16hh. I'm 5'7 and I just bought a 15hh 3 year old. I didn't really expect him to grow much but he's probably a good 15.2hh now. Saying that a 15hh arabian or fine TB would be too small for me.

Some horses grow until they're 6 or 7, others stop when they're around 3 so it depends. In my experience their height around 4 is pretty much it. They might grow an inch but generally slowly over time, rather than in a spurt. They also seem to grow out more at this age. You see many 3 and 4 year olds that are narrow and small, once they stop growing up they seem to start growing out, getting wider, strong chests and hindquarters.

What breed is the 14.2hh mare? What do you plan to do with her - this will also affect what height will be suitable for you?
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post #7 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 10:07 PM
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I'm 5'7" and look ridiculous on anything under 16.2, but then I ride skinny TBs. I rode a stocky Morgan once and felt fine on him. I think he was only 15.2.

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post #8 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 10:08 PM
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There's no real answer to the "too small or too big" question. Every horse is built differently, they all have their advantages and disadvantages in their conformation and weight-carrying ability.

At your height and weight, I absolutely doubt a 14.2hh horse would be too small. My gaited gelding is 14.3hh and my mom, who's super tall, did gaming and trail riding on him while he was her horse (this was 15 or so years ago) and he was fine. He's very sturdilly built, though.

Too big? Whatever is outside your comfort range or does not allow you to properly use your aids in communication. I have an advantage at 5'10" that not many horses are too big, but that's me personally. I love riding big horses, so the comfort zone doesn't really apply lol
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-04-2011, 04:31 PM
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Height is just a preference if you're not concerned about weight. Most small horses can carry more weight than larger horses due to a higher bone to weight ratio. I know 13H horses that can carry 250lbs easily as long as you aren't looking for a big horse for jumping or something. I prefer shorter horses, I have a shorter leg, its a shorter trip to the ground and the breed I've chosen doesn't reach anything past 15H and even that is tall. I'm biased against big horses because they are part of the reason SMs were almost crossbred out of existence.

When talking height I like to share these articles:

Last edited by wakiya; 01-04-2011 at 04:36 PM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 01-04-2011, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Cat View Post
I think you need to look at the build more than height.
Indeed. I'm 6'4" and our 14.2-15hh, stocky Paints are typical height, and that wide barrel takes up a lot of leg.

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