View Full Version : The disadvantages of being tall. Help!

Apr. 5, 2009, 10:22 AM
I'm a very tall and skinny rider with really long legs. I'm almost 5'10" and I'm 15. I find it very hard to ride a horse that will flatter my legs. Some people tell me I need a horse with a big barrel to take up my leg, some people say I need a lean tall Thoroughbred. I don't have the funds to have my parents buy me a six figure warmblood, let alone a five figure horse. The horse I have now is a 16.1 or 2 lean thoroughbred, I can't sink into my heels and wrap around him as i'd like to. Is there any suggestions on what to do in this kind of situation?

Also, I'm just about ready to get a new saddle, the saddle I have now has too short of a flap and too big of a knee block and roll. Should I go with pencil knee rolls, or none at all? I'm guessing i'm going to need a long flap as well.

Any help is greatly appreciated. :)

Apr. 5, 2009, 10:39 AM
OK, so I'm 8 inches shorter and own a very nice Wide Load of a WB. I'd do better on a narrower horse. But...

WBs are not categorically more expensive than their TB counterparts. Now is a great time to look for horses. If you can ignore the pedigree, you may find a fine horse without the paperwork that doesn't matter too much in practice anyway.

If you look only at conformation of horse and rider and biomechanics, there's more to fitting horse to rider than height and width. The length and "set" of his neck (does it leave his shoulders more toward the horizontal like a QH or more toward the vertical like a purpose-bred upper-level dressage thing?) plus the length of your torso will figure into your equation.

If you have the opportunity, go sit on some wider horses and see what you think. My 16.1 1300-pounder happily packed around a 5'11 15 year old and she did not look out of place, nor find it tough to balance on him.

Best of luck with your "tall chick" issue! Sit on lots and lots of them.

Talk of the Town
Apr. 5, 2009, 10:41 AM
I'm not quite sure what to say about your horse situation but I am a tall (5'9) and skinny rider (110 lbs) as well and I've found that I really like the pencil knee role with a long flap. I've found that it provides me with just the right amount of support without getting in the way, which is what i feel with a thigh block. In some cases you can get an extra long flap on some saddles. I have a Pessoa A/O with a pencil knee role and long flap and it fits me great so that may be a possible outlet to look into. Hope this helps and good luck I know how hard it is to find something that takes up your leg :)

Apr. 5, 2009, 12:53 PM
I don't know about saddles but as far as horses go, I'd say go for a taller horse with a bigger barrel. I'm a skinny 5'6 with long legs and I ride a 17.1 "lean TB" and my legs still go down pretty far on him, so I don't know if I'd recommend a lean TB. One of my friend's who is almost 5'11 bought an 18hh Wb(at least I think he's a WB! haha) and she looks perfect on him. My other friend who's 5'9(also really long legs) rides a TB cross who is only 16.2 hh, but has a wider barrel so she still looks fine on her.

As mvp said, you should try to go sit on several wider barreled horses and see what you and your trainer think. Good luck!

Apr. 5, 2009, 01:31 PM
I am a tall rider as well, due to back problems I have the legs of a 6'4 giant, on a 5'11 body (as in I'm supposed to be 6'4, but thankfully my spine is so messed up I'm not a huge giant, just a regular one!)
Anyway, a horse with a big barrel will definetley take up your leg much better, I owned a 16h DWB for a long time, still do, who wasn't 'big barreled' and when I showed him I had to hike my stirrups up 3 holes so that I would not have rails (as in with MY feet, yes it has happened). Where as I catch-rode a 15.3 QH (who looks like a WB) and my leg fit MUCH better on him, didn't have any problems at all :)

Now I am leasing a 18.1 chunk-tastic DWB, who does take up my leg, but honestly not much more than the 15.3 QH/Warmblood-Impersonator, so you don't need to have a tall horse, just a horse that 'fits' you.

For saddles, I have one with just a long flap, works fine, but I LOVE my Childeric with a very very forward and long flap.

Apr. 5, 2009, 01:59 PM
Saddle-wise, look for a forward flap and also consider the seat size. Yes, you are thin, but do not correlate seat size to your size-- in reality seat size has a lot more to do with the length of your thigh. You might find yourself in a 17.5-18" saddle that will fit your leg.

Horse-wise, you are tall but nowhere near giant. I'm about an inch shorter than you and had a 16.2 h horse that I fit just fine on. As others have said, it is not just about height of the horse, but body build. Personally, I have a long torso, and I think I tend to look better on horses that are a bit longer in the neck than compact, short backed ones. Sit on a bunch of different horses-- I am sure your trainer can help you with that, you just want to sit on them, not ride-- and have someone take a picture. You will start to see what body types work well with your body.

Warmbloods are nowhere near the only type of horse that will work for a taller rider. Many quarter horses are well above 17 h or you might find one with a bigger barrel. My QH was just slightly shorter than my current WB who stands at 17h and the QH wore the same size of clothing as the WB and the same size of girth-- 56. There are so many other options out there.

Apr. 5, 2009, 07:12 PM
As far as the horse goes... find a horse that you get along with, that works for your budget, and worry about the rest later. Unless you are doing the very top levels of eq, like Maclay or USEF medals, it won't matter if your horse doesn't completely take up your leg. I'm guessing if you're saying your horse is a $9,999 horse or less (since you said not even 5 figures) you're not doing these major shows, maybe some local stuff. A good trip will put you in the top ribbons every time at the local shows. Where you need to worry about the perfect package/picture is at the top shows where there are so many great trips, it's hard to differentiate between them all. That's when style, overall look, etc will move you up or down in ribbons. Guessing that's not what you're going to be worrying about. That said, find a good horse that will work for you and don't worry about the leg. I'm 5'11.5 (refuse to be 6') and have ridden everything from small warmbloods, to tall TB's, to big monster elephant warmbloods. Most of the time it doesn't matter as long as it was good.

As far as the saddle goes... same thing. Find one that fits. Rolls and blocks are a personal preference thing. I personally don't like them. I have a 34'' inseam to ankle (so pants are a 36'' inseam) and I ride in a 15 year old Pessoa A/O with a padded, extra long flap. It took me through my Big Eq career and now into my ammy days. If it fits, go for it. Make sure it also works for your horse! ;)

Apr. 6, 2009, 11:06 AM
I'm 5'10" and quite thin so when looking for a new hunter, I explicitly told my coach that new horse must be 16.2H +. Of course I ended up with a *maybe* 16.1 but very big barrelled Hanoverian. This horse just really takes up my leg and I look good. I think if I had a different body shape, we might not go so well together.

Apr. 6, 2009, 07:34 PM
I'm 5'11" and 130lbs.

I have ridden 17.3 hand horses that were too small for me. My current mount is 16.1 hands with a deep barrel (not wide, just deep) is perfect for me. You will want a horse with a long enough neck that you don't feel like you are out in front when you are in two point.

Oh, and don't be afraid to go up in size in saddles. My saddle is 18"

Apr. 6, 2009, 08:57 PM
I feel your pain! I am 6', 130 lbs. and sticks for legs as well as ALL legs!(fun finding boots!). I have had a 16.1 big barreled TB who took up my leg, a 17 h skinny slab sided TB who I fit, and my current horse is 16.3 (was 16.1 when I bought him as a 3 yr old) with a nice long neck, not big barreled at all-but, we got along, he was talented, and what I was looking for. As one of the posters said, unless you're in the Maclays, who cares! Go with what you get along with, and what you are comfortable with, and of course within your budget. Try as many horses as you can! As far as saddles, I recently got a Devoucoux, 18" seat, extra forward long flap (extra long was tooo long) I personally like the knee rolls/thigh blocks, but that's individual preference. Good luck with your search for horse and saddle!

Apr. 6, 2009, 09:28 PM
Im another one of the tall riders. 15 and 5'10" and i weigh 120 pounds (hopefully a little less after I stop eating soo much food). I currently have the same situation for you. My 16.2 guy is part TB, with a more narrow barrel, so he doesnt take my legs up as well as all the other horses I ride. We do the childrens and soon the jr hunters, and it doesnt really matter that he doesnt take my leg well as we win frequently.

If you want to do really well in the equitation then the leg stuff comes more into play (my big eq horse for next year is a 17.1 round dutch warmblood, and my leg is much better on him).

Saddle wise I feel your pain aswell. My suggestion is a 17 or 18 inch antares with an extra long flap. Mine is a 17 and absolutely perfect. The saddle is amazing and I'd suggest it to anyone.

Apr. 6, 2009, 09:50 PM
I am 6' tall and weigh 150 pounds.

I have three horses:
A tb I bought as a resale project who was 15.3 when I bought him who has since matured to just over 16h. And I've decided I'll never sell him. Boy am I glad I bought him to sell him because I would never have bought him as a keep horse at that height.

I have a 16.1 Oldenburg who is about to turn 4 and still in the skinny minnie whippet stage. He has barely any barrel and I look too big on him too.

Then I have a 15.2 appendix QH sale horse who, you guessed it, I also look too big on.

I lovingly refer to them as my "15h Fleet."

They are all wonderful, I love riding them, and we do just fine at the shows too. The QH, for his part, went up against some big tall warmbloods (with smaller riders!), hooked it down the lines and beat the half of 'em. :)

Apr. 6, 2009, 11:04 PM
oh the joys of being tall :lol: im 5'10 and pretty skinny so a horse with a big barrel is a must.

My last horse was around 18h with a 54inch girth

My current horse is 16'2 with a 54inch girth as well so I dont think height matters as much

Apr. 7, 2009, 09:05 AM
If you're that tall, with your height coming from your legs, you want your height to be mostly taken up by the horse's barrel. Getting on a tall horse (like 17h+), with you having a relatively short upper body, can make you look small on him.

A shorter (still above 16h) horse with a bigger barrel can take up your leg and still leave your upper body proportioned to his back and neck length.

But in the end it comes down to whatever you feel comfortable on and, if doing Hunters, whatever you don't look totally out of place on.

Apr. 7, 2009, 10:49 AM
I'm 5'11 and all I have to say is, I feel your pain. However, I'm not as concerned with it as I used to be. The only thing it ever really effected was the fact that when I was younger I couldn't ride the ponies! My instructors would never give them to me because of my height and how silly I would look...lol

Apr. 8, 2009, 02:48 PM
There is an old saying, a tall rider on a short horse looks no worse than a short rider on a tall horse. The idea being that the horse is more important than how you look.

Depth is the ultimate factor in covering leg, but covering leg does nothing more than cover leg. I am 6'3+" and when I am riding consistently around 180lbs, and the shortest horse I have is 16HH, the tallest 17.1HH, some are deep, some are not, but it all feels the same, and I ride them all the same as far as my leg length is concerned.

A great example is Joe Fargis and Touch of Class, she was a very fine mare, and JF is not a short guy, but he fit her perfectly.

Sometimes as a tall rider you have to learn to package yourself better for the smaller finer horse. You have to pay attention to your lower leg and limit the slip etc. This is going to be the most important factor for you, all the other stuff will perhaps help you look more like other riders, but at the end of the day your ability is the most important factor.

Sometimes a saddle with a forward flap will make your leg look more balanced with the horse, but if you are thin it sometimes makes it look like you have a ton of saddle. My advice on a saddle would be a more forward flap, and no knee rolls at all. Think old close contact saddles, Prix De Nations, Beval Gladstone (old version), Hermes Steinkraus or any of the Hermes copy's that were used back in the 70's and 80's. All except the Hermes are inexpensive, and more important will allow you the freedom to adjust your leg to the horse you are on. .

For the Horse
Apr. 8, 2009, 03:23 PM
I am 5'10" and feel your pain (but not so much with the thin part!). I own a fabulous 16.3 deep chested TB mare that I have always felt slightly big on even when everyone told me I did not look it. I have recently gotten a 16hh (maybe) draft cross mare (project horse for sale!) who has that chunky draft body style that I feel very normal on. Its what you feel when you sit on the horse. If you feel big, you will always feel big, if you feel small, you will always feel small. Go out and sit on horses, try them, see what you can find!

As far as saddles go I am in the process of replacing mine as well (it has served me faithfully for 13 years!). While a forward flap may help to take up your very long leg, esp if you are long hip to knee, be very careful with a forward flap. I have seen so many people put forward flap saddles on horses that then interfere with the shoulder movement of the horse. Take this into consideration if you are getting a saddle before you get a horse!

Good Luck!!!

Apr. 8, 2009, 08:13 PM
Hello. I may not be tall... I'm about 5'5". I ride a 15.3 hh Trakhener mare. A lot of people recommend me to ride a taller leaner horse. But for you I would recommend a 16.1hh horse but that had a wider girth. I feel better on a horse that is wider because I feel more secure and my leg placement is better. As far as a saddle, I always always always rode in a saddle with knee rolls. After my first ride in a saddle without knee rolls, I highly recommend these. Knee rolls can sometimes make your leg point outwards. Probably a long flap would suit you best.

Best of luck to you! :]

Apr. 8, 2009, 08:37 PM
I'm 5'6" with long legs. I prefer to ride something 16.2 and up with a big barrel so I can wrap my legs around and feel secure. I lease a 16h skinny TB/Westphalian cross who doesn't have much of a barrel. I agree that it depends on how you feel on a particular horse. On my horse now, I feel as if I'm riding a big WB because that's how my horse moves and jumps. I've ridden bigger barreled and taller horses whom I felt big on because of just how they moved. If you find a horse that fits you for your interests and ride, then what does it matter what his size is? I'll take my small TB cross over a big WB anyday. However, if his size really bothers you and is make you ride worse than what you could be riding, perhaps switching mounts would be an option.

As for saddles, I have the same problem as you. I have long legs and an extremely long femur in the saddle. I like a saddle with a forward flap and a higher set knee block/roll so my leg can stretch down and underneath me, but still keeps my leg in the proper position. Find something with a long flap and see what feels best in terms of knee blocks/rolls. My saddle has a long flap with knee blocks and it fits well. I used to ride in a Pessoa Stadium that was great for long legs. See if you can find an older one, as the new ones seem to have lost their nice quality.