View Full Version : Judges, please weigh in: Adult on a pony?

Sep. 30, 2010, 02:52 PM
A friend is looking for a new horse to show in dressage.
She is petite - under 5' - and was limiting her search to something 14h or under.

My rated show experience is mostly H/J and it used to be judges would mark down an adult showing a pony as unsuitable, i.e. total picture was NQR.
This also held true for kids outgrowing their large ponies.

How would today's dressage judge view a senior-aged adult showing a medium to large pony?

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:00 PM
I've shown a teeny-tiny (about 12.3hh) half-arab pony at First level, and it was never mentioned that I was obviously too big for him (though I am only 5'2"). That's one thing I've always loved about dressage... as long as you are obviously not hurting the horse, the generally held belief is that dressage benefits every horse (or pony!) so if it takes an adult to show a little guy, and the rest of the package is right (relaxation, rhythm, forward, etc) the size difference isn't a big deal.

I remember a shetland stallion being shown in dressage... let's see if I can find his website...

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:01 PM
That is what German Riding Ponies are for! ;)

Also, a couple of friends of mine (both on COTH) are also very petite and they ride ponies. One rides a haflinger cross and the other rides a Welsh Cob (actually he doesn't have his pony card, he's just 1 inch too tall :lol:). Because they are petite, they are perfectly suited to their ponies. And I don't believe either of them have ever been judged lower because of the size of their horse.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:26 PM
I am an adult, I ride ponies, I do not get marked down. It's about the training and what the judge sees.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:26 PM
Sounds like she is looking for a mount for her size, nothing wrong with that. I personally find it irksome when people think they have to ride a moose because they are a) old and b) compete in a certain discipline...

German rideponies are like little WBs, so she finds one she likes (or another small equine for that matter, Nice welsh or so) more power to her.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:30 PM
Nothing wrong with it at all.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:32 PM
thanks to all so far
I will be emailing my friend this thread

I modified my Subject as I would like to hear from judges if possible

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:37 PM
I am a judge and do not have a problem with it.
The only time it would even cross my radar is if
I thought the pony was struggling - either with
the rider's size or balance.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:42 PM
Jaye Cherry is showing Chardonnay, a pony stallion, successfully at I1 maybe I2 even. She is not that tall, but not petite. Also Dory Breneman is showing Grand Prix on a maybe Welsh Cob, I think... So even trainers show ponies.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:46 PM
so um, if the "picture" is so important, esp. for H/J, how do tiny adult women get away with riding huge WBs and TBs? my own thought is if the rider can't see over the horse's back the horse is too big for them. Me being short I have found large ponies/normal arabs are the ideal mount.

Sep. 30, 2010, 03:49 PM
Yes- total picture matters if it is extreme- 6' rider on 12h pony. However, there is no stigma against adults on ponies (like there is in h/j) if the adult looks appropriate on the pony.

Hampton Bay
Sep. 30, 2010, 04:05 PM
There is a rider in my area showing a pony at I1 or I2. She's not super-short either. Her weight is appropriate for her frame and for the pony.

I wish I were shorter and could ride ponies. But at 5'9", jumping them can be difficult unless they have long necks. It's too easy for me to unbalance a pony, and I like to jump for fun.

Sep. 30, 2010, 04:47 PM
Thanks again to all & especially dotneko for a judge's perspective.

I will now email this thread to my friend.
Looks like she may have found one - a Haffie cross.

Sep. 30, 2010, 04:58 PM
my 4'11 adult niece rides a sport pony, she is a fantastic mover and the judges usually comment they are a nice pair!

Sep. 30, 2010, 07:21 PM
Lendon Gray rode 14.2 hand Seldom Seen to wins in GP and GP Freestyle at Devon in 1987.

Sep. 30, 2010, 09:16 PM
This is SS's retirement at Dressage at Devon, 1987.


Sep. 30, 2010, 09:37 PM
I asked two judges recently if they would have a problem with me showing a pony.

I am 5'5" and 112lbs.

One said not a problem unless my feet were dragging through the sand and interfering with pony's forward.

The other said simply as long as it is moving and doing the work no problem.

Sep. 30, 2010, 09:51 PM
Spyder! What a great video!!!

Sep. 30, 2010, 11:42 PM
I compete two 13 hand ponies in dressage. One is getting ready to debut at 2nd level. I am 5'2" and most definitely an adult, chronologically at least. I have never been knocked down in score or criticized for it. There is also a lady in this area, taller and larger than I who competes on a haffie who is also in the 13 hand range. She's competing at third/fourth level and doing pretty well.

Sep. 30, 2010, 11:50 PM
i hope there is no bias, as i have joined the pony ranks by purchasing a 2 yo Connemara who, last i measured was a hair over 14.2.... he is all pony and is so trainable! cant wait to get him out in public in a year or so :)

(ps - exvet - he was everything we had hoped for - and more :) )

Oct. 1, 2010, 12:00 AM
(ps - exvet - he was everything we had hoped for - and more )

Congrats. I'm very happy for you. Now you do realize you will owe me some updated pictures in due time :winkgrin:

Oct. 1, 2010, 12:14 AM
*is an adult with a pony*

Oct. 1, 2010, 12:11 PM
I'm 5'4 and 120lbs. For the past 5 years I have been riding big 16.3 - 17.2 hand warmbloods. My back is killing me and I a getting awfully close to 50.......
So right now I am importing a 14.3 hand German Riding Pony. He is like a sports car but moves/gaits quality like a big WB. Can't wait to get him here!

Oct. 1, 2010, 04:16 PM
BetteroffRed posted about my pony. He is a haflinger/morgan.
I am 5'5 and 120. Pony is 13.3 3/4. We just started dressage this year. I am not sure it is what my trainer, who is also a judge, would have picked out for me. I had the pony prior to taking dressage lessons. Trainer has said pony should make it to 2nd level. I have my 2nd dressage show tomorrow. So far I have only gotten positive comments from judges, volunteers and other competitors. People seem friendlier when you are riding a pony. :)
My pony is multipurpose. We jump 2'3" stadium and cross country, hunter pace, camp, attempt dressage (doing intro moving up at our 3rd show to training) and are going foxhunting in 3 weeks.
Dressage 1st show, he was very nervous and would not stretch down: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?pid=4692844&id=528669150&ref=fbx_album
Multipurpose - camping weekend: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?pid=4328590&id=528669150&ref=fbx_album
Jumping (excuse my bad position. I have had a time finding someone to taking jumping lessons with on my side of town): http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?pid=4485882&id=528669150&ref=fbx_album
Beach pony: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?pid=2847741&id=528669150&ref=fbx_album
PONIES ARE FUN!!!! You would not believe how many folks see my pony and stop me and go I wish I was little enough to ride ponies "I LOVE YOUR PONY". It always makes me laugh because I am usually drooling over what they are riding. Not bad for a $400 rescue pony!

Oct. 1, 2010, 04:27 PM
I have a fabulous little American Sport Pony (Welsh/GRP) that I ride, he is 13.2. I am 5'8", but am on the lighter side. I have never had anyone, judges or instructors even mention it.
I really love riding him, I have a few and they are wonderful, highly recomend them.

Oct. 1, 2010, 04:46 PM
We also have several ponies showing in dressage right now....love them, dont want to ride anything else. Here are two of them...both are Connemara Ponies.

Showing 3rd Level (14.1HH): http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1619686&l=35a5cd51ea&id=1021903725

Just started showing first level (14.2HH) :http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1586428&l=9de4a2e1d9&id=1021903725

Oct. 1, 2010, 06:22 PM
Betteroffred also posted about my "pony". He is a 6 year old section D Welsh Cob and is 14-3 on a tall day. I am 5-4 and about 145 pounds.

We have shown successfully through 1st level and hope to show 2nd in the Spring. Most of the issues that the judges have with us, is ME! ;)

I am currently training with an "S" judge and she is not critical at all! She loves his mind and his work ethic. She does expect us to "BRING IT" all the time!

And Bellellis is right (GO HUGGY, GO HUGGY)! Ponies are fun! They are like big Corgis! Always looking for the fun, but always ready to work!

He gets lots of attention wherever he goes and we get lots of "cute pony" too! The little girls just love him, he is what dreams are made of!

He had me at hello!



Oct. 1, 2010, 06:24 PM
GOODPONY! Your ponies are.... GORGEOUS!

Oct. 1, 2010, 06:45 PM
Dressage ponies are definitly acceptable with an approp sized adult. I am 5'4" and ride my ponies that range from 13.1-14.2hh. They are all German Riding Ponies (Weser-Ems) and bred for dressage.

Oct. 1, 2010, 09:38 PM
Nothing wrong with it at all. Lendon Gray put that rumor to rest forever. (My favorite thing about Seldom Seem is that Gray said they spent their first year together "running around the arena out of control" ha I wonder how true that is exactly...

My last horse was a chunky 14.1 Haflinger cross and I'm 5'4.

Even taller riders are fine on ponies, as long as their weight is appropriate.

I'd love to get my hands on a GRP.

What I love about Seldom Seen and other 'nontraditional' horses is that it proves how far you can go and how much fun you can have on a horse that didn't cost a million bucks. You don't need to have $50k+ to spend on a horse to be able to do the upper levels. You can do it with a pony, an OTTB, whatever. Hilda Gurney's Keene was a TB. If the horse has relatively OK conformation, three decent gaits and is sound, you can go really far. It's all about learning and training, not the $ or the expensive horse.

This is a neat compilation of videos of 'nontraditional' horses:

Oct. 1, 2010, 09:41 PM
My trainers rode ponys, how else would they get trained and be with a lot? They were very good at dressage and I got to ride them after thier training was complete. As far as I know my trainers were never docked points. Ponys are very strong.

Also, Karen Occoner rode a pony... Teddy

Oct. 1, 2010, 09:47 PM
We also have several ponies showing in dressage right now....love them, dont want to ride anything else. Here are two of them...both are Connemara Ponies.

Showing 3rd Level (14.1HH): http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1619686&l=35a5cd51ea&id=1021903725

Just started showing first level (14.2HH) :http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1586428&l=9de4a2e1d9&id=1021903725

Please send the grey pony to me ASAP. I would look fab on that pony!!! WOWZER!

I have ridden GalloponGrants pony. It is all that pony's fault I ended up with the $400 pony. I was done with horse, lost my last one of 8 years in a freak accident. I WAS DONE. I went to TX for work and to visit friends and got suckered into riding GOG pony....then I got one!!!

Oct. 1, 2010, 11:21 PM
Thank you :) The grey Pony is performing a Dressage Freestyle to Music in front of a packed house at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in the Equine Village-he is a breed Ambassador with the American Connemara Pony Society-lets go pony power!

Oct. 1, 2010, 11:30 PM
How would today's dressage judge view a senior-aged adult showing a medium to large pony?

Well I'm 47 and here are 2 of my 13 hand ponies (the buckskins) and a bay pony who is 14.1. Under S judges we've scored as high as 70 but typically hang in the mid 60s.




So I don't think they penalize those of us with a few years under our belt, if we choose to get on and stay on something a little closer to the ground :winkgrin:

I have more ponies. One of which I rode in the USDF Adult Clinic last year. She is 14.1. My other "ponies" are closer to 15 hands. The only things that get penalized are my lack of coordination, timing and finesse, not the size of my mount.

Oct. 2, 2010, 12:14 AM
Our Westfalen pony stallion Popeye is ridden by an adult - Rebecca Cord and he's very successful in competition in Open Fourth Level classes. We have sold 2 other large German Riding ponies to adults and they are doing well in competition as well.

It would seem rather biased if judges marked down adults who are proportional to the size of the pony they are riding when they don't mark down very petite women on HUGE WB horses.

Oct. 3, 2010, 01:35 AM
Ponies are perfectly appropriate. I'm an amateur (5'3 126lbs) who is breaking out my new three year old Welsh C X TB (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/album.php?aid=197378&id=840274685&ref=mf). He is lively, bold, sweet, smart, willing and extremely trainable. So glad I went for a pony. The mind is just exceptional--everything is just so easy and fun. Even when he is naughty, he is naughty in an intelligent way.

Oct. 4, 2010, 03:52 AM
We also have several ponies showing in dressage right now....love them, dont want to ride anything else. Here are two of them...both are Connemara Ponies.

Showing 3rd Level (14.1HH): http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1619686&l=35a5cd51ea&id=1021903725

Just started showing first level (14.2HH) :http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1586428&l=9de4a2e1d9&id=1021903725

Oh, my...those are LOVELY!

My Arab mare was 14.1 and I am 5'6" and heavy. I never once got a comment from a judge about my size on her. Any bad scores were purely because of my inadequate riding! We even got comments like "capable pair" and "nice pair", etc. I know, those are comments they make when they have to find something nice to say, but at least they're better than "nice tail" or "interesting color".

Oct. 4, 2010, 04:48 AM
I just wanted to comment that I rode a 16.1HH TB for 9 years. I am 5'5", I weigh 180lbs. I had a judge at a rated show write on my score sheet that I need to lose weight!

Oct. 4, 2010, 05:51 PM
Not only is it perfectly acceptable, there is a Show just for Us.


Hope to see some of you next year.

Oct. 4, 2010, 05:57 PM
Oh my goodness! What fun! I love pony shows!