View Full Version : What is the ideal horse height for you...why?

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:26 PM
With all the success of Teddy and other ponies out there, as well as sucesses of taller horses such as the 17 hand Albany II who took Phyllis Dawson to the Olympics, I was wondering what everyone here rode and why? I know in my horse search I was only wanting to look at horses over 16hands and I am only 5' 6", so certainly don't NEED a tall horse, it was just personal preference. I guess I WRONGLY had the impression that I needed a bigger horse to jump (mind you I am just learning and only jumping 2 feet-LOL). I adore my horse, but find myself wondering what it feels like to ride something smaller-is it less intimidating (not far to fall:winkgrin:), does their stride feel very different from a bigger horse? I've ridden lots of horses from 14.1 hand Morgans to 18.2 hand Belgian, but have only jumped horses that were 16.0 hands +.

So my question is, when you bought your most recent horse, was height a factor and why? If you have evented both ponies and horses, what is your preference?

Edited to add: I always thought a bigger horse would make me look smaller LOL! Not that I am a large person, but who doesn't want to look a little smaller? HAHA!

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:40 PM
Gwen is almost 16.2, Bonnie is 16H even. They are both kind of "just right" for me, height-wise...I can mount from the ground if I have to and they even wear the same size blankets--very convenient! I don't mind if a horse is a little smaller so long as it takes up my leg. I've never ridden REALLY big horses consistently so I can't say whether I care for that feel or not. Every horse I've had (other than my little QH/Arab mare who didn't jump) was between 16H and 16.2, so I'm very much in the "average" group, I guess.

I wouldn't NOT go look at an otherwise qualified horse because of height, unless it were less than 15.2 or bigger than about 17H...beyond those parameters it would have to be super in other departments to make up for the size.

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:40 PM
i am only 5'5" so not tall and i am short everywhere. my personal horse is 15.3 and plenty big enough. he's a conn/tb and rides like a spotscar. he has enough scope and stride for the bigger fences but unlike some of the bigger horses he is light and balanced that he's fun.

all of my resale horses are 16+ h b/c like you said even if people don't need a horse that big they think they do:lol:

more than height i think it's important to look at angles to determine how a horse moves and how they balance themselves.

i do find my smaller horse requires a different ride b/c he is shorter strided and you have to ride more accurately to make the distances happening...compared to my 17h tb who has a 14 ft canter stride that i need to package together.

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:45 PM
Height isn't all that important to me, because I'm not a big person, only 5'2" and 100 lbs. I ride a 13.2 hand pony who moves like a horse, and a 16 hand TB/ Han horse who moves like he's 17 hands. Quite frankly I wish my 16 hand horse was 15 hands, since he's such a jokster. His mother was only 15.2 or 15.3 and moved and jumped big. A lot of scope. Both of my horses are fun to ride. I'd pick talent over size any day. Besides, usually the bigger the horse, the harder he is to keep sound.

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:46 PM
I personally don't care at all about height- at all. wait I take that back- I think it is a LOT more work to ride something big- say over 17hands, and I think you do have to look to be sure the larger horses are athletic for their size and not too hard on their bodies. I think you can get away with a less perfect beast when they are smaller versus the really big guys- personally speaking.

HOWEVER- if it loves to jump, tolerates dressage, and stays sound, I ride it. I am 5'10" and I mostly just judge how the horse goes with me on its back as to whether we are matched or not. some horses are bothered more from my tall upper body and legs that hang below their knees! :) But if I can ride it well and it enjoys its job- I couldn't really care less how big it is.

KBG Eventer
Oct. 3, 2007, 12:47 PM
I am only 5ft so I haven't owned anything bigger than my currrent horse Sonny, who is 15.2h.

I guess I am kind of lucky being short because I can ride the small ponies, but I can probably ride some of the bigger horses. It depends on the horse though. If I were to get something in the 16.2h range than it would have to be more sensitive to my aids I would think. I couldn't have a big, heavy horse that needs a 6ft German guy's half halts.

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:49 PM
I am 5'3" and my horse is 15.3hh. That is about as big as I like them. I look at it like this... if I get dumped in a field, I want to be able to (comfortably) remount my horse. Anything 16.1+ would be a bit of a stretch for me. And personally I would rather own a pony if it were feasible for adults to show ponies in the hunters.

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:53 PM
I personally don't care at all about height- at all. wait I take that back- I think it is a LOT more work to ride something big- say over 17hands, and I think you do have to look to be sure the larger horses are athletic for their size and not too hard on their bodies. I think you can get away with a less perfect beast when they are smaller versus the really big guys- personally speaking.

HOWEVER- if it loves to jump, tolerates dressage, and stays sound, I ride it. I am 5'10" and I mostly just judge how the horse goes with me on its back as to whether we are matched or not. some horses are bothered more from my tall upper body and legs that hang below their knees! :) But if I can ride it well and it enjoys its job- I couldn't really care less how big it is.

This pretty much sums it up for me as well. I will say though, I prefer smaller horses. 16 hands or under with a big step. It's much easier to keep them together and make neat turns for the jumpers. I also thing it's easier to keep them balanced for dressage. Big horses take way more work then I care to do...although I have ridden some exceptions....I gravitate towards the little ones. Current horse is 15.1 with a plenty of body to take up leg. I am 5'8" but mostly leg so it doesn't look terrible. Even the hunter folks don't realize that she is that small and I am that tall :winkgrin:

Oct. 3, 2007, 12:59 PM
As well as height, "length" is important to me, which is to say, I have a very strong preference for close coupled, short-backed horses. I find the 15.2 - 16.1 range good for me. Bigger horses always seem like more work. I'm 5'3". My horses tend to have strides that are "big" for their height also, which I do like. It is not only the riding. For me, it is much easier to groom and tack a horse that I can reach all of.

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:08 PM
I may be 5'6", but I have stumpy legs. Both of my previous horses are 15.3, and that worked out fine. My filly is pushing 16 hands at 3 and I'm worried that she's going to be a monster. I find that my legs fit and feel best on 14.2-15 hand horses, but my torso is so long that I can't make any mistakes jumping (sadly, just a dream) or I throw their balance too much. So 15.2-15.3 works better.

The way the jump feels has a lot to do with how the horse jumps. My first horse was lazy with his legs but got his belly 3 feet above the jump, so it felt big. A little 14.3 hander that I ride really cracks her back and it also feels huge. A 16.3 former grand prix horse was scary huge. My second horse was an equitation style jumper and it ffelt like a big canter stride.

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:08 PM
I agree with Scubed. I like them short coupled. but I need a neck. either reguar length or long. Otherwise the horses ears pick my nose.

The guy I have now is kind of big. He's a full 17h I think. It takes an act of God for me to mount my jumping saddle from the ground as he is all leg.
He's also kind of thugy. He whips out the athletisism when he needs to but so far he's been more careless with the jumps because he can very easily stand over a 3 foot fence, front feet on one side and hind feet on the other. When he jumps bigger and actually HAS to jump, he starts to look impressive.

My first horse was 15.2.

my big horse is sounder and put together a bit better.

both horses wear the same girth and blankets.
: )

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:20 PM
I'm 5'4" but I have long legs. I don't want to look too tall on my horse (legs hanging below the belly) so I like horses that are in the 15.3 - 16.1 range. I used to have a horse that was 15 or 15.1 and had a fairly small build and I think I looked too big on her. I could go a little smaller than 15.3 if the horse has a thicker build or a really well-sprung rib cage that would take up my leg.

I am finding that the older I get, the closer I like to be to the ground so I probably wouldn't want a horse that was bigger than 16.2.

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:40 PM
I'm 5'5" ish and my horse is 16.1/2 ish (neither of us have been measured at all recently) I feel like we fit perfectly. He isn't very narrow or very wide, and my leg looks great on him. He's got a huge stride and a slightly explosive jump though, so sometimes I would like to be closer to the ground!! However I can mount from the ground just fine. I regularly ride another horse who is about 14.2. I feel like while he's a little on the short side for me, especially because he's narrow and I have a long leg, he can jump anything I ask him to, and if I were in the market, his height wouldn't bother me. Plus he turns SO well whereas my guy has to be a lot more collected to make the same turn. I wouldn't really want anything bigger than 16.3, too hard to collect, I'm just not that tall, and short fits into more things easier (trailers, small stalls, old blankets etc- not actually a consideration, but my old horse was 15.1 and fit in my old trailer fine, but my current horse didn't, so I'm trailerless because of it, slightly annoying, but it didn't stop me from buying him:D)

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:42 PM
I look weird on anything that has a less than 48" girth size :winkgrin:... I'm 5'9"/5'10" and mostly leg, so having a decent barrel to wrap my legs around is key. My current guy is around 16.1/16.2ish (haven't officially sticked him) and I feel a little more comfortable on him than my former 16h "skinny" TB (meaning usual TB weight ;)).


My stirrups are more geared to flatwork in that photo, but I did raise them a few holes when we started jumping... although looking back, I could have probably done them up a few more but my legs would exploded. ;)

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:47 PM
I am short and like smaller horses... I feel better on them (I feel a bit 'swimmy' on big horses)and smaller horses also give me the illusion of control.

Oct. 3, 2007, 01:49 PM
I'm 5'6" and have ridden all shapes and sizes. My first horse was a 14.2 Arab who fit me fine at the time (I was 16 then) and I used to regularly foxhunt an 18.2 thoroughbred. I personally like fairly large horses and don't like the "pony trot" that you get in many short fellows, though I also know quite a few who move like big guys. The 18.2 horse was a PITA to get on- I couldn't do it from the ground even with a drop-stirrup- but he had a lovely jump and was a terrific mover. My own horses are in the 16.2-17 hand department. My big horse has a loooong back and a tremendous canter stride, so packaging to make the distance on combination fences is proving to be... interesting. I think size just depends on the individual and on your own ego (what Napoleon complex?!) ;)

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:33 PM
I'm 5'11 and a mile high from hip to shoulder. I look too tall on every horse so it doesn't really matter who I ride! I have figured out that I jump better on a horse with a longer neck bc we both see the fence from the same place. It is troublesome when I loom too far above the short-necked ones. TBs only for me, I prefer the Ferrari-aspect of my 15.3 TB, but I LOVED being way up high on Mikey who was 17.1. My new 4 year old is 16.2. I really don't care as long as we can work together.

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:52 PM
I'm not so much hung up on height as how they feel to ride. I've ridden 15 hand horses that rode big and 17 hand slab sided horses that I couldn't get comfortable on. I like a well sprung barrel that takes up my leg and gives it somewhere to go and I like to feel that the horse is solid underneath me. Also neck length is important to me, too. I like a longer neck coming up in front of me.

I'm sure I'd be more intimidated to ride some of the smaller, sportscar types (Teddy comes to mind with the springs in his legs) as they are so agile, catty and quick. I love to watch that type of ride go, but it's not for me.

I'm 5'6" with more length in my legs than in my torso and my two mares will both finish up about 16.3. Megan, the Irish mare, is very solid and tank like and Lily, the Shire/TB cross, is more leggy, lean with a longer back. Interestingly, while they are very different to look at, my saddles fit both the same and they both take up my leg very nicely.

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:53 PM
My daughter is 5'4". Her horses are 16.1 and 17.1. She loves the bigger horses but I think she rides much better on a smaller horse that she can really get her leg around. Her best ride ever was on a 15.1h horse. Still, I can't convince her and I'm not the one riding!

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:54 PM
I'd love to be able to stay at around 15.2 short-coupled thicker horse because I find that a comfortable stride and height (I'm kind of a wimp), but I'm 5'8" and look silly on anything less than 16.2. That said, my current horse is a 16 hand heavy perch cross. He takes up my leg but I still look a bit tall on him. I can mount from the ground if I need to and that's likely the tallest I'll ever have.

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:55 PM
I am 5'3" and I have come to learn that shorter is better for my horses! My oldest horse is a 15.3h fineboned TB and I now realize that he was just about the perfect height for me. I did the 4' jumpers with him and he had plenty of stride and could leave them out where a lot of warmbloods couldn't. Size does not necesarily = length of stride. The shortest horse I have owned was a 15.1h TB and he also had plenty of stride although he was not terribly athletic in the jumping department. Also I worked in a A circuit H/J barn and the ponies (All Larges) where expected to get horse striding in the lines. I have found that short strided horses usually have something else going against them aside from size, such as conformation (stockhorse types) or soundness issues. Even though they can get down the lines as well, smaller horses are a lot more manuverable than big horses in the corners. This is why my 15.3h TB could clean up in the jumpers on the A circuit against the big warmbloods without having to run to do it, we could just turn better.

My two current competition horses are a 16.1h mare and 17h gelding. I am pretty comfortable on my mare, and I can get on her from the ground if need be. She is not as handy as my little guy though, but she is not too bad and she has a lot more jump (my little guy was maxed out at 4' courses). She is about as tall as I would want in the future.

My 17h gelding is just plain too big. I used to have to stand on a box to bridle him before I taught him to keep his head down. He is not very wide though so my leg dosen't look to bad on him. All of the big training problems I have had with him are due to his size though. He can go from being the most supple and sensitive horse I've sat on to a very clumsy trainwreck just like that. His stride is TOO LONG. He leaves out a stride in every line he jumps when he is just loping down the line slowly (He makes me keep rewalking my lines because I just can't believe he is leaving a stride out going that slowly). It also kills my back to ride him because any adjustment I make such as a halfhalt has to come out as a HALFHALT! Also God help me if I ever got dumped out in the middle of nowhere on him.

When I eye horse ads now I look in the 15.2h to 16.1h range. That is how big my next horse is going to be.

Oct. 3, 2007, 02:57 PM
I have had horses from 15.2 to 17.1. My current horses are 16.2 and 16.0. I find that I prefer the 16.1-16.2 size. Over 16.2 is too big for me (im 5'4). When I had my 15.2 horse I was always worried when we got to the big fences that he would nt be able to do it. NOt really sure why. However, he ended up being one of the best jumpers. For resale purposes, I dont get anything less than 16.0 because I find the pool of buyers is much smaller. Plus, they are usually still on the greenish side so I wouldnt feel comfortable selling to a kid.
I also like them short coupled and uphill. My 17.1 guy was not particularly long in the back, probably just proportionate to his height but it was still too much too put together. He's a wonderful hunter now.

Oct. 3, 2007, 03:19 PM
I've been on ponies/horses ranging from 13.3 to 17.2 without any trouble really, but my upper body does feel a bit tall on the littler guys, especially over fences. The length of neck, amount of bone, spring/depth of body make more of a difference than the height to how well they fit me, though. I haven't noticed that tall horses need more leg - if anything, the Thellwellian types are harder to motivate. ;) If they have long backs or are heavy bodied they do tend to be a little less catty and need more help maneuvering, but that's true at any height.

Oct. 3, 2007, 03:43 PM
I have owned 14.1 to 17.2- love 15.2 but built thicker! I am 5'4".

Oct. 3, 2007, 03:49 PM
My first horses were both 15h. They seemed FINE in height to me, but I didn't have much experience. Then I bought a 16h horse to compete. I thought she was HUGE. But she also seemed FINE to ride. I bred one of the 15h mares and got a 14.2 mare. I was expecting bigger, but oh well. We did get comments from people that she was too small for me (I'm 5'8") but she had a big barrel and was great for me to ride. I LOVED riding her. She took me to my first dressage show and my first event (cleaned up too, I might add. This made the people who said she was too small a little PO'd). I jumped her up to 3' - 3'3". For the bigger jumps I definitely noticed an issue. If my balance wasn't perfect, it threw her balance off. Also, if we were galloping at speed, sometimes her elbows would hit my toes. ;) So, probably my ideal horse is taller than 14.2. Next I bred the 16h mare and got a 16.2-16.3 horse who I currently ride. (some people tell me she MUST be 17h at least! But I haven't measured her recently, and once I sticked her at 16.2) I was actually riding the 14.2 horse and the 16.2 horse concurrently. It was odd switching between them. The smaller horse actually had a bigger barrel and felt "wider". Trailering them together was a hoot. They looked like Mutt and Jeff from the back of the trailer. Now I just ride the 16.2 horse. Her height seems FINE to me. I sat on a 17.2 horse once and rode around a little. He seemed kind of big. But I would probably get used to his height if I rode him regularly. Now for horses I breed, I try to get 16h+ since that's what most people seem to want to buy - the bigger the better. I had a little 15.1 OTTB that I was trying to sell. I rode him and he was FINE for me. But many people wouldn't consider him because of his size. Too bad, because he was a fabulous jumper. Of the 11 horses I currently own, the retired 14.2 horse is still my favorite (just don't tell my current mount!) I think a good partnership is better than the correct size ratio. I had many, many instructors, clinicians and judges tell me that I made a good pair with my 14.2 horse. But I have similar comments about my current 16.2 horse too.

Oct. 3, 2007, 03:57 PM
I'm a slendy 5'3", but I have long legs. My ideal height is 16hands-ish, but right now my horse is a stocky 15.2h and I feel just fine on him. But I couldn't imagine riding a horse much bigger than him that has the same attitude! He's given me a serious run for my money, and I think the fact that he's so small is the only thing that has kept me from becoming too intimidated.

The Princess Lissell was a solid 16.2, and I always felt safe on her. Jack was much bigger at 17+h, but he was so even-tempered that even though I felt like he was big, it never made me nervous.

Jazzy Lady
Oct. 3, 2007, 03:59 PM
I'm 5'4" and my current horse is 17h (edging on 17.1). I'm a midget on him, but we have a good partnership. Somedays he takes advantage of me in a way he wont take advantage of my 6'+ coach. Take today for example. It's a cool fall day, he's 3-day fit and had a hard dressage lesson on sunday and just wasn't feeling the need to become engaged and round today. It was an interesting ride. Add a horse jumping out of the paddock while I was hacking to the equation and it's very interesting. He's compact though so it's a lot of work to ride him, but he's so incredible that he's a very rewarding horse.

I'm working on getting a second horse. Ideally it will be around 16.1h. My old mare was that height and fit me like a glove. But I've competed everything from 14.1 to 17.2. At least I never look too big!!

Oct. 3, 2007, 04:15 PM
He was a rescue of sorts...and I wasn't suppose to keep him, but we did. He is a 15.3 hh appendix w/some barrel. But I am 5'10" and VERY leggy and athletic build. I really look best on 16.3 hh to 17.1 hh.

My little man--has scope like you wouldn't believe though. He can out run anything (he will steeplechase next year w/a jr rider.) Jumps the moon, foxhunts, and could go higher than training but NOT w/me and just keeps on going and going. He doesn't know what tired is.

So I keep him...and just am glad that I don't do the hunters anymore...b/c I am too tall. :( Love him bunches...but my perfect horse would have been taller. Thank goodness he can handle the extra height w/o it affecting either one of us.

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 3, 2007, 04:26 PM
This is a very interesting thread :)

It reminded me of a statement made by Jimmy Wofford in his book (IIRC, it was Training the Three Day Horse and Rider) he said: "the most athletic horses are generally between 15.3 and 16.1".

My present mare sticks at 15.3 1/2, and since I'm 5'3 1/2, that's a perfect fit for me! ;)

She is definitely a "Ferrari", so that would fit in with JW's hypothesis...(There are times when the jumps look a bit larger from her back, but I never feel that she can't make it over them...:))

(My past horses have varied in size--and I've ridden quite of few others, from ponies to big 17+ handers, over decades of riding--but I generally feel most comfortable on horses in that "JW range", size-wise)

It also (obviously, as has already been posted) depends on the horse's build; in my case, since I have relatively short legs, I find it easier to "get my leg down around" a horse with a narrower barrel--but for some reason, I keep buying (or creating, somehow--through training) "great tanks", which then stress my hip flexors! :sigh:

When I then get on a horse who *isn't" as wide, it's a revelation: Hey! I can actually "drop and drape my leg down around, and feel like my knee doesn't hit the widest part of the horse!" :lol:

(I would join the "Stubby leg clique", but I already have too much stuff in my sig line...:p)

Oct. 3, 2007, 04:34 PM
I am 5'4 with a long upper body, short arms and short legs! The horse I ride now is a 15 hands Arab that I love! Since my arms are so short, his neck fits me perfectly so I don't feel like I am being pulled out of the saddle. My short legs fit his barrel easily and he is so comfortable and smooth to ride. ( I broke a bone in my back many years ago so comfort is very important to me.) He can whip around the corners and jumps and is fairly brave so I am very happy with him even though I swore I would never own an Arab. Oh well..

Oct. 3, 2007, 04:36 PM
My current horse is 15.1 QH cross. He takes up leg really well- not that he has to for me I am 5'2! When asked how tall he is the response is usually "he looks bigger than that" but nope. Measured him yesterday. I was not looking for anything under 16 H. My last mare was 16.1 TB and we looked good together, so I thought I would try it again. My current horse loves to jump! We actually were working on making the one stride distances today and he got it easily in the end but I had to convince him he could do it. He has to work a bit harder to make the striding sometimes but not enough effort that it detracts from his jumping ability. I agree about being manuverable where some of the bigger horses are not is a benefit. I like the size of my horse now and I think that I won't go bigger than 16 hands unless it is just a spectacular horse.

ms raven
Oct. 3, 2007, 04:37 PM
I'm a petite 5'4" and my partner in crime is a 15hh arab.

Oct. 3, 2007, 04:46 PM
I'm 5'5" and Clancy is 17 hands and still one more year of growing. Did I expect him to be this tall when fully grown? No. Both his parents are a hair over 16 hands. Would I sell him because of his height? Absolutely not.

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 3, 2007, 04:49 PM
Another thought--I've done some hunters in the past (and with my present horse), and have found that having a smaller horse (who has to "move up a bit" or carry a little more pace in order to make the distances down the lines) puts you at a disadvantage in the hunters, since they want that "easy, loping down the line" look that big horses seem to find effortless. In eventing, it doesn't matter, since you are generally carrying more pace on a stadium than you would a hunter course anyway (and the horse's engine is more engaged, so they find producing those 12 foot strides easier ;)), so the distances take care of themselves--IF the horse is in front of your leg, balanced, and adjustable. (And they can't "ding" you if your horse fails to achieve the "look" of a relaxed hunter on autopilot, cantering around the course on a loopy rein! :lol: Just leave the jumps up, whatever the size of your horse! :winkgrin:)

Oct. 3, 2007, 04:52 PM
For me: 15.2 and under. I loff the ponies. :winkgrin:

I'm 4'10 and weigh less than 100lbs. Ponies fit me perfectly and I love being able to ride them.

My personal motto: If I can't mount it from the ground or bridle it without assistance then it's TOO BIG! (As was evidenced yesterday when my instructor decided to put me on a 17hander who did a Giraffe impression the second he saw me coming with the bridle in my hands and required a stool and 3 people to help me bridle him :rolleyes:).

Current horse I've been riding (most often) in lessons is a 15.3 narrow-as-a-pole TB. He feels almost too narrow to me (so used to my tank ponies) but we fit each other fine. I just perfer them shorter :yes:

Oct. 3, 2007, 05:13 PM
I am 5'6 and all leg. My leg doesn't fit any horse under 16hh in dressage, but I can still look ok on the ponies if I crank up my stirrups. I prefer a horse in the 16.1-16.2 range. I can mount them from the ground, reach their head if they put it in the air, and generally handle a horse of this size. I like to ride bigger horses... but personally I wouldn't want anything over 17h for many reasons.

Oct. 3, 2007, 05:15 PM
When I then get on a horse who *isn't" as wide, it's a revelation: Hey! I can actually "drop and drape my leg down around, and feel like my knee doesn't hit the widest part of the horse!" :lol:

If only my knee came that far down! I hit the widest part of any decently sprung horse mid-calf. :( So I have to decide if I want my upper leg on or my calf/heel on. And man is it worse in a close contact saddle!

North Dakota
Oct. 3, 2007, 08:29 PM
My horses are 15.3 and 16hh, i'm 5'9. I look good on them, and truthfully, i don't care if they are a little small, i don't like riding big horses. 16.1 is where my comfort zone is, i will try 16.2 but it has to be the right horse, and i don't like heavy built ones, TBs are for me! This is just my personal preference though, being that i'm horse shopping right now, height is a big thing for me, i don't want big.

I will flat big horses, i will condition big horses, but i'm not as comfortable jumping them as i am my small ones. Work for me.

Oct. 3, 2007, 08:47 PM
i really like small horses for some reason :)
my first horse was a 14.3 arab, very round, took up a ton of leg!
my second horse was a 15.2 TB, and realllyyy narrow
my horse now is a 16.1 TB and he is actually comfortable, but that is as big as I feel comfortable...
17 is just WWAAYYYY too big for me...

I am about 5'5-5'6 and all legs...

Oct. 3, 2007, 08:53 PM
I am almost 5'7" and 100 pounds, and I really prefer the bigger horses. My greenie is 15.3, and narrow. The other grey mare is 16.2 and built like a tank. My first horse was almost 17.2, and the horse after that was a very solid 17.2, then I got a pony who was on the small side of a large. I was way, way more comfortable on the bigger ones.

Oct. 3, 2007, 09:12 PM
I like 'em smaller. My Polish Arab is 15.2 and he's the tallest that I've owned. I also have a short-backed, thick little 15.1 (at best) Arab jumper that I wouldn't balk at putting against the 17handers on course. He's got a pretty wide barrel and takes up a decent amount of leg.

I rode a friend's Oldenburg gelding who is 17.1 (she's a tall girl, 5'11) and I felt horrible on him. His strides were so huge that I felt off balance and akward.

I'm 5'6 with relatively short legs though.

This is me on my little jumper:

And on the big Oldenburg:

I feel much more comfortable on the smaller horses and ponies. I worked for a Welsh Pony breeding farm and the owner couldn't get over how nice I look on the ponies (and how akward I looked on her 17hand jumper :winkgrin:).

Oct. 3, 2007, 09:55 PM
I'm 5'8 and the majority of my horses have been under 16.1h. BUT i dont think its so much as I like smaller horses as much as I like the short coupled cat-like ones. My current filly is 3yrs old and she rides like a sports car...but I sticked her last week and shes just under 16.3hh(pic in profile)..shes always been naturally balanced and she NEVER seemed like that gangly unbalanced oversized baby that you think of when someone says "oh I have a 16.3h 3yr old", even when I just backed her at 2yrs she was so balanced. I forget shes so big half the time....

So I am saying: I like when they have more size for the sheer fact they take up my leg better BUT if they are big they need to be compact b/c its hard enough to keep a small horse together that isnt quite so balanced but a huge horse its even harder. I like the catty compact ones :)

Oct. 3, 2007, 10:09 PM
Ideally I like a nippy super scopey 15.3hh. In reality, my best horse is a 16.2hh TB (but very narrow to sit on) and my other one is a huge big 16.3hh crossbred (see my profile lol).

And I have a tiny wee OTTB mare who is barely 15.2hh-15.3hh and is so narrow that I cna't get my leg on her! She def needs to fill out, its like riding a yearling (she is 5).

Im 5ft 6-5ft 7, and lightweight.

Oct. 3, 2007, 10:27 PM
I am 5'2, so the last thing I need is something big. Picasso is 14.2 but he is solid so taller people can ride him and not look silly.

My oldest is 5'4, long legs with a small build. Her horse is 15.3 and 1/2, they look great together. She never had the urge to get something "huge" like her friends have wanted. She was very focused on the talent aspect first and how they "fit" together.

My little one is going to be tall and she is built more solidly (like me) but with long legs. Right now I just want her to stay another season on her 13.2 wonder pony because wonder ponies are hard to find!

Oct. 3, 2007, 10:29 PM
While I won't say I'm hung up on height, I do prefer something around or preferably under the 16h mark. Neigh is 15.2 (I think he is shrinking, though. I swear to God he was 15.3 when I was a teen!). Ralph was 15.2. Little mare finally sneeked past 15.3 this spring (though, she's tiny still. She is like riding the edge of a knife blade!). Paco is 15.2 and 1/2. The little dressage mare I have been riding at First Level all summer is 15.2ish. One of the horses that gave me a great deal of my confidence back after Elf and I parted ways was 15.3. I LOVE this size horse. I love the way they feel (like little rockets), and, for the most part, they are easy to rate and very adjustable. I will say Paco-pony, the little man who bounces 21ft, may be a different story. He can be quite strong to his fences...I'm hoping this will change as he gets stronger. But for the most part, this size horse is ideal for me and my body type and I find them easier to ride (I can't sit Paco's trot yet, but that's just because he's got a trot to die for and I have some work to do :lol:).

I HAVE ridden bigger horses, and really enjoyed them. Reilly was 17.2, big, powerful, and strong. I had to ride him in a pelham, and eventually a gag as I just did not have the leverage to get my aids to work on him. But he was a great, fun horse to ride, and I remember my season with him fondly. I can still feel the instant at Groton House that he suddenly kicked in to super brave horse :sadsmile: The fancy grey horse, one of my all time favorites, is 16.1...hardly "big" and he isn't a really strong horse, but he is big enough that I do have to work a little harder on him. Elf was a shade over 16h (he probably falls more in my ideal range). Jed was rapidly approaching 16.2...he had an odd way of feeling like the smaller horses but feeling too big at the same time. The Irish foxhunter I took novice and LOVED riding was a BIG 16.3 (he was a carbon copy of Reilly, and I actually rode him in the same pelham). All those guys are or were fun, but I still tend to like the feel and look of a little horse.

My only size hang up is extremely big horses (Reilly fell into that category, as did our giant grey Irish horse). I DO NOT like them for eventing, as I think they are too hard on their bodies. Our big grey guy was a perfect example...he had all the right ingredients, but in over abundance, and we could not keep him sound when we really needed to put the gallops on him. I've known other big guys with similar stories. Reilly only jumped 5 prelim fences in competiton, so it is hard to know what would have happened if he hadn't had some of the worse navicular ever. There are exceptions to this rule (Biko, obviously), but I avoid them when looking for me or clients, and when we shopped upper level horses for the boss all last year, we avoided them for him. In fact one horse he considered while in NZ reminded him of the big grey, and he just couldn't bring himself to getting excited about him...all he could think of was straining tendons :no:

I think Jimmy is right on- 15.2 or 3 to 16.1ish is PERFECT! :yes::D

Oct. 3, 2007, 10:51 PM
Well...I've had everything from 15.3 on up. I'm tallish with long legs (5'9"). The taller horses generally suit me well but it really depend on how they take up my leg and how they are to ride. My best horse so far was 16.3 but he was very catty. My 3 year old is 17 hands.....but is very light on his feet and extremely well balanced....so I think he may be ok.

More important to me then height...is how the horse is put together and how they are to ride. I like them to be more of finess rides...not strength. I've sat on 15.2 hand horses who were TANKS...not my type of rides...so I really think it have very little to do with height as it does with the type of horse, how it is built and how it moves.

Oct. 3, 2007, 11:20 PM
I love to hear everyone's thoughts about height.
Ideally, for me i love a small and athletic pony witha nice engine and lots of scope.
I love ponies....i have a 14/2 pony right now that fits the bill.:)
I have a thoroughbred pony just being started now so i'm so anxious to see how he will feel....

Oct. 3, 2007, 11:40 PM
I am short (5'2") and much prefer a smaller horse....give me a hony any day! I tend to be partial to horses with substance.

My current eventer is a 14.3hh Percheron/TB cross (yes, you read that right). His size and shape make him a perfect fit for me, physically. He is also very short coupled, which I like. He is a super fun lower level horse, but isn't going to run Rolex....but that is fine, because neither am I!

My retired eventer (who was/is also my first horse) is 14.3hh also, and while she is substantial like my draftie, she is much longer bodied. This made her a scopier jumper, but harder to package. We are a great fit.

Over the years, I have had a 17hh substantial TB who was WAY too big for me, a 16hh QH who wasn't a bad fit but not great, and a 15.3hh Paint who I adored but couldn't keep my leg around. I just do best in the 15hh-ish zone!

Oct. 3, 2007, 11:44 PM
I am short (5'2") and much prefer a smaller horse....give me a hony any day! I tend to be partial to horses with substance.

My current eventer is a 14.3hh Percheron/TB cross (yes, you read that right). His size and shape make him a perfect fit for me, physically. He is also very short coupled, which I like. He is a super fun lower level horse, but isn't going to run Rolex....but that is fine, because neither am I!

My retired eventer (who was/is also my first horse) is 14.3hh also, and while she is substantial like my draftie, she is much longer bodied. This made her a scopier jumper, but harder to package. We are a great fit.

Over the years, I have had a 17hh substantial TB who was WAY too big for me, a 16hh QH who wasn't a bad fit but not great, and a 15.3hh Paint who I adored but couldn't keep my leg around. I just do best in the 15hh-ish zone!

I am stealing your Perch/TB :D I love the short stocky guys!!

Oct. 4, 2007, 12:10 AM
I am stealing your Perch/TB :D I love the short stocky guys!!

And I'm stealing your Appy. I love his jump and loud coloring!

Oct. 4, 2007, 12:33 AM
My first (and only horse) was 14 hands (so I guess he was really a pony). I got him when I 13 years old and probably about 5'1. I was really starting to outgrow him four years later when I had to sell him to go to college. I'm 5'7 and have long legs and I think I look better and feel more comfortable on horses that are 16-16'2 ish. But they also need to be wide enough too to accomodate my long legs. I was on a tall but narrow lesson horse once and it was really uncomfortable because he didn't "meet my leg". Hope to get another horse someday and that will be very exciting!

Oct. 4, 2007, 12:42 AM
This is a good post.I am 5'5 and 125lbs, to give you an idea.

I have owned and ridden horses that were anywhere from 14'2 to 17'3 hh. I really used to enjoy riding horses who were a bit smaller, maybe around 15'2-15'3 but I have to say from riding my trainer's 17'3hh horse I have come to realise I actually do enjoy riding the taller horses. Their stride (the ones I have ridden) have large strides and I find it easier to ride. They tend to have more scope and just seem easier to ride as they feel a lot more "sturdy".
This is the 17'3hh Imported Warmblood:

The only inconvenience really is that it use a lot further to fall down but a lot more enjoyable to ride.

Smaller horses 15'2hh or less (or even just 16hh or less) are great I find when you want to have fun. They have smaller strides a lot of the time (again the ones I have ridden) get around quicker and in tighter places.

It just depends what it is you want to do and what you enjoy riding. Your height and weight will make a big difference. I could get away riding certain build and height of horses my friend might not be able to due to body build but personal preference makes a big difference.

From recent experience I enjoy anything tho I would go more for the taller ones.

Oct. 4, 2007, 12:50 AM
Well I'm about 5'5" and my present event horse is about 15.3h and thats about perfect for me. I have also evented my daughters pony who is about 14h and built, he is so much fun. I prefer the smaller guys. My two year old who was born in june is already 16.1h in front and 16.3h behind with huge bone, he is already too big, he might need to find a dressage home. Fingers crossed he does not end up 17h+.

Oct. 4, 2007, 03:26 AM
Okay, my horse if 15.3 and change. I was looking for something 16 h with four good legs--any breed, preferably a gelding. What I really look for is something I actually listen for. I want /have a horse whose footfalls are so light I can't hear his hoofbeats. I love that in a horse.

Edited to add: He's the perfect height because that's the height he is. ;-)

Oct. 4, 2007, 07:03 AM
I'm 5'8". I want a horse that is big enough to carry me comfortably, and not so big that I can't mount from the ground. Other than that, size really, really doesn't matter - though I'd like as not go for smaller rather than bigger because nobody else wants 'em! :lol:

My horses are 15.2 (TB) and 14.2 (Arab). I fit the TB nicely, from an aesthetic standpoint, and don't look silly on the Arab. She (the Arab) is definitely harder to ride because my balance affects hers so much more - but that's served to make me a MUCH better rider, so I'm happy about it! ;)

Oct. 4, 2007, 10:19 AM
My ideal is 16.2 to 16.3 for me to ride. My gelding is a round 16.2 and my mare is 16.3 (at the PPE he sticked her at 1 cm under 17).
I would love to ride the smaller horses because I think that as a general proposition, they are cattier and stay sounder longer, but at 6 feet tall, I am just not comfortable jumping most horses below 16.1 over anything other than small fences (there are exceptions). When jumping smaller horses, it just seems like the smallest imbalance in my upper body has the potential to really affect their balance and that was definitely the case with the 16h mare I leased for a while.
I don't like to go much bigger than 17h either as they often feel to me like they are hard to put together and balance or are the heavy types plus their legs take quite the pounding.

Oct. 4, 2007, 10:42 AM
I am only 5'2" and I am at the age where I going to start shrinking!! I like my horses on the smaller side. My event mare is 14.2 and muscular. Most people think I am riding a larger horse. I have ridden bigger horses, but have the disadvantage of really getting my leg on (since there is not much leg there!). I think some people think that the bigger horses have an advantage of getting over bigger fences. They might, but the smaller ones are definately quicker and catty and much easier to turn!:D

Oct. 4, 2007, 11:18 AM
I have one that is 16.2 and one that is 14.3. I bought the little one out of Phyllis' field as a baby, mostly because I felt a connection to her that I really can't explain when I first laid eyes on her. I knew she was going to be small, but had no idea how small at the time. She has been surprisingly athletic. Most people when they see her comment on how "cute" she is - but they have more respect for her when they see her move and jump! :) Anyway, I've found that I am much more confident jumping her than I ever was with the bigger one - that is due to a number of factors that have nothing to do with height, of course, but certainly the height has not been a negative at all.

Oct. 4, 2007, 12:12 PM
I'm 5'7" with a little more mush in the tush than I'd like :(, but I'm pretty much average weight.

It really depends upon their conformation and gaits. My TB is 16hh (ish) and not very big through the body:

http://inlinethumb46.webshots.com/16301/2209511320100380233S600x600Q85.jpg (http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2209511320100380233RStHqO)

She has medium-sized gaits that are easy to sit. I'd like her to get better at making the distances.

The 14.3hh App/TB that Lori rides has very well-sprung ribs and takes up my leg better than my taller mare (I don't have a picture), but has sewing-machine gaits and not enough neck in front of me when I'm jumping.

I've had WBs and TBs that are 17hh, and the difference was HUGE. Sitting my 17.1hh TB's trot was no problem. On my Anglo-Trak....much harder. Both were narrow, and I had a 16hh Hann who was "bigger" under me than any of these horses.

I think that the ideal horse for me is between 15.2hh and 16.2hh and can take up my leg, with movement that's got some scope but is easy to sit, and a neck in front of me.

A 17hh TB with reasonable gaits and narrow sides is fine, and so is a 15hh cobby critter if my leg feels secure on it.

When shopping I like to look in the 15.3-16.2 range, but then again I prefer middle-aged gray geldings and I bought a 5-y-o bay mare this time, so the standards go out the window when you see the individual.

Lori B
Oct. 4, 2007, 02:10 PM
Chiming in here -- I'm 5'5" and well, not dainty. I have ridden: a 16.3 narrow TB; a 16hh round QH, a broad 16.2 draft cross once, and spent a lot of time on a 14.3 TB/Appy who is a little tank and takes up my leg great. And the newest lease horse is a sturdy Connemara, probably around 14.2 who I find myself remarkably comfortable on.

I like a horse who takes up my leg nicely, and I agree with Westlaw about wanting a neck in front of me for jumping. I'm not a strong enough rider to sit big gaits comfortably. So the optimal horse size for me is around 15hh and sturdy.

Oct. 4, 2007, 05:18 PM
IMHO horses come in two sizes: too small and big enough.

I'm nearly 6' tall. That said, I've had horses that are 15.3 but big barreled, and horses that were 16.2 but felt too small because they were so narrow.

Currently I have two. My Trakehner is probably about 16.1 but built like a tank and has a big long neck. My TB is probably 16 h. I thought he'd be too small for me but he rides big and takes up my leg.

I don't really want a gigando horse -- too many issues with the really big ones.

Oct. 5, 2007, 08:41 AM
I am with Westlaw and the others regarding the neck. I like a horse that is built uphill and has a lot of neck in front of me. I am 5'10" and I have a long upper body, so a big, long neck makes me feel more secure going to the jumps. I also prefer a bigger barreled horse since my legs are 5 miles long ;).

I have a 15.2 h Holsteiner mare that has a HUGE barrel and I feel like she takes up my leg well, but she has a short neck, which makes jumping interesting. I have to be super careful not to jump ahead or tip too far forward because it totally throws her off balance. I love my mare, but security wise, I wish she was a hand taller. My ISH is around 16.2 h and built like a tank, and my Tb is 17+ h and also built like a tank. I definitely prefer the solid feel I get with my bigger horses.

So, ideally, I like 16.2 + hands with an uphill build and a lot of neck :).

Oct. 15, 2007, 04:21 PM
i'm almost 5'8" but have never judged my fitting on a horse by their height, but rather by their build. I've ridden slender 17.3 hh TBs that i've felt huge on, as well as bigger boned warmbloods or QHs who were 15hh that i felt (and looked) great riding. I have a longer leg and need a horse with a barrel to take that up, but aside from that, anything goes.

I think if you rule out a certain size horse when shopping, you very well might miss out on a great find! (but if you're 6' i would disregard the ponies :lol:)