View Full Version : Who's had a "big" horse (ie 17+hands)?

Nov. 11, 2011, 01:54 PM
looking for thoughts on people's experiences with large horses?

1) did it take you a while to get used to the ride?
2) have you noticed more upkeep to keep them sound?
3) other issues/things you've learned?

I'm contemplating a nice prospect, great mind, lovely personality. Nice jump, could go into the hunter ring or the jumper ring, just needs the miles to figure out where he will fit the best. I'd start by developing him for the hunter ring. On the flat, he's green, but doesn't feel heavy.

I'm 5'7 and 140 pounds so I'm not a peanut, but my other horses are 16 and 16-1 so this is a new feeling for me (it looks like a long way down when I'm in the saddle) and thought you might have some thoughts.

Nov. 11, 2011, 02:11 PM
I have a 17.3 hh mare, I lease her and have only had her for a couple months but (oh and I event so I can't really help for hunters)
1) it took me a little while but she also has a BIG jump and I wasn't used to being jumped out of the tack like that! but the main thing I've had to figure out is that she's just BIG and when she's going around, she can't be controlled (i guess that's the best word for it?) like my 16 hh horse. Her stride is so large and long that while she definitely can be packaged, she prefers a more long and low ride. Seeing distances etc wasn't bad to adjust to though.
2) so far no, I haven't. She seems fairly light on her feet most of the time though

Nov. 11, 2011, 02:25 PM
I have a big guy. My horse before him was a 15H TB and mine now is a little over 17h. Heightwise I realized it was more of reach to get the stirrup! :p So far havent noticed any difference in up keep. When I got him, being an OTTB, i went ahead and started him on joint supplements etc but I was doing the same thing with a previous horse. Forrest has a big jump and I will admit as we have grown into a better team I have noticed that jump height. I use to be really nervous jumping anyhting over 3ft with my previous horse and was dreading doing it with mine now, however when that day came I didnt bat an eye and actually my trainer had set them up to 3'3-3'6 and I had no clue till I was done. It was a very happy moment since I always wnated to get over the fear and to be able to jump that high.

I will admit though that I probably will never go back to a smaller horse, since my current guy fits me much better than my older guy.

Nov. 11, 2011, 02:35 PM
I have a Thoroughbred gelding who is 17HH and a WB that is 18.2HH (at least last time he was measured, but he most likely grew a little more).

It has taken me a while to get used to riding the XL boy, because his stride was incredibly huge when he was greener, but the 17HH rides like any other size horse in my opinion.

I do take extra careful of ensuring the XL boys soundness by keeping him in as large a stall as possible with as much turn out at weather permits, and he gets a monthly dose of adequan and daily cosequin. The 17HH boy also got the monthly adequan when he was in more consistent work and hock injections as needed, along with a huge stall and all day turn out on a few acres.

One of the most difficult things about the XL horse is finding things that fit him, like blankets that have enough depth (and don't cause me to go bankrupt), he had to have a custom bridle made, and finding a belly guard girth that was long enough was incredibly difficult. Another thing to consider is how to trailer the big boys. We have a 3 horse extra tall extra wide, and still have to leave the divider open for the XL horse to fit length wise.

Nov. 11, 2011, 02:37 PM
I bought a youngster that broke the 17 hand mark as he grew up. Have a horse now that is probably 17.1.

I have not taken care of them any differently maint wise than I did my 16 hand horse. I do what maint is needed for each horse.

I have always ridden a variety size of horses so nothing feels "strange". I do laugh though when people talk about how "big" my horse is. To me he is average size. :lol:

Nov. 11, 2011, 02:55 PM
I had 17.1 horse that I leased. I actually prefer them bigger. There really wasn't any extra upkeep on him. The size of his stride took some figuring out but that was about it. They do make those jumps feel small though :)

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:01 PM
Just got a 17.2hh Hanoverian mare and she is just GIANT in every aspect. She's a bigger mover but it didn't really take any getting used to. Since she is green, we are having a slightly harder time packaging while jumping courses and her canter is so big, but that will come with time. As for soundness, she isn't on anything. She's been barefoot her whole life, so we haven't had to go for extra large shoes or anything :)

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:08 PM
I have a 17.2 TB. The only differences ive really noticed are that it's a looooong way down when dismounting. Moreso when the dismount is unplanned! ;)

He also stocks up a little bit if left unwrapped in a stall overnight, but our stalls right now are only 10 X 12. He doesnt stay in often! Jumping bigger stuff feels smaller on him. 2' seems like a pole on the ground.

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:10 PM
1) No more so than with any other horse.
2) No.
3) Those extra inches have surprisingly little effect on striding. Yes my big guy can have a big stride. He also can do a teeny little stride. Just like any horse, I have to ride for what I want. My advice: people worry WAAAY too much about size when shopping. Like panicking if it is under 16. Or worrying if it is over 17. It's best to focus on a horse's quality, athleticism and temperament. :)

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:37 PM
1) Not really. I went from a 16 hander to a 17.3 hander. My guy now is 17.2. I have always commented that I loved the ones I have because you don't feel like you are on a big horse. They are built and carry themselves in a way that is just as coordinated as a smaller horse.
2) Not at all. Knock on wood, I haven't had soundness concerns.
3) My guys were both out of smaller mares (under 16 hands) and by "smaller" stallions (under 16.2hh). They both ended up needing roaring surgery. My personal theory is that having small parents and ending up freakishly large must not always results in the correct "measurements" of the nerve that controls that flap.

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:42 PM
I have a big beast, well over 17hh but I never measured him after he stopped growing so I don't know how much over!

I had ridden horses of all sizes, including a 17.1 WB who rode MUCH bigger than my guy, so I was used to a variety in size. I'm fairly tall, 5'9 or 10, and leggy. Wefit eachother well! And I can even mount him from the ground if I need to :lol:

No maintence issues due to his size, he's an OTTB and retired sound. He lives with another horse, 24/7 in/out access, which he does well with. Blanketing is a bit of a challenge, he measures 86/87", but occasionally ends up wearing smaller stuff if that's what I could get :uhoh: :lol:

Most regular tack fits him, I just have to check whether he needs full or oversize for some things. Other than checking the height of doorframes (lol) he's not *that* much of a problem with height. He does fine (although could undoubtedly *do*for more height/length!)in mu standard trailer, he can poke the screen out of the front window with his nose, and he doesn't have a ton of head room but he does fine on the 20min drive to where we ride.

I didn't get him because I wanted a big horse to have the "in thing" I got him because he fit me both in size and personality. Although having big horses being more popular now certainly does help with finding stuff to fit!

Nov. 11, 2011, 03:46 PM
I love a bigger horse. I'm 5'10" and feel I fit the rythms of a larger horse. I fell off my daughter's pony, and felt lopsided and too tall in the upper body. Now, tho, getting off is the hardest part of a ride.

Nov. 11, 2011, 04:07 PM
I've had 2 17h+ guys.
I'm 5'5" and a solid 150 so not a feather up there.

1st was a TWH who really had no talent for jumping.
I tried him over teeny - 2' - fences and either he needed a bigger jump or just didn't have the "Wanna" factor.
Since my show days are over it was no problem to forget about schooling him O/F.

His gait - he did not trot - was so smooth that size did not figure into it and he crossfired at canter (common gaited horse issue I've been told) so that was never a huge success.

Now I have a 17+ WB who did GP Jumpers.
WTC he feels the same as any horse. And since, when I jumped regularly I rode Hunters, I can only say his approach to fences is "different".
I've had him not quite 2 years and school so infrequently that probably that could be changed.

TWH was slab-sided so a 52" English girth fit him fine & 26" dressage girth the same.
New guy is bigger through the barrel and while the 52" is sufficient, he really could use a 28" dressage girth - the 26" fits barely, and no way the billet ends go into the keepers .
Bridle fit was not a problem with either.
The 82" blanket TWH wore is not a great fit on the WB - he could really use an 84.

Trailering TWH in my 2HBP walkthrough was not a problem, but now I have a GN slantload and WB Big Guy goes in the back slot (if I'm hauling 2) but it is a tight fit. If I'm taking him alone, I pin back the divider and he has a skosh more room.

Like others have said, most notable difference is it is a looooong way down dismounting & a loooooong stretch up getting on from the ground.

Nov. 11, 2011, 04:16 PM
I have a 17.2 horse who is probably about that wide.

In terms of the "ride," he never took any getting used to. He has a fair amount of suspension and a big jump but he's very rideable. That's just him. What is difficult is packaging him and CHANGES-- but that's more because he's also long-backed than just his overall size, IMHO.

I don't think his size has affected his soundness, but he does have smaller feet than I'd like FOR his size. And oh goodness, have we had shoeing issues. Not sure that's his size, I think he's just got not-so-hot feet.

The main thing is that buying things for him and taking him places is a PITA. He needs an 87 in blankets and NOTHING knit fits him once it's been washed. I am always paying extra for the biggest sizes and never find stuff for him on sale because he needs odd sizes. I have to buy double of some things (he needs 2 tubs of wormer, more supplements, more sedatives, etc.)

He needs a really big trailer and when he goes, my friends with smaller/lighter trucks can ONLY take him, not him and another horse. He's also bent a butt bar because he's so LONG, he SITS on the back of the trailer as he rides.

I love him, he's THE BEST but I was relieved when the heir apparent started looking like he was done growing at 16.3. That is MORE THAN BIG ENOUGH in my book!

Nov. 11, 2011, 04:17 PM
I have a 17h TB gelding. He was only 16 hands as a two year old and now he's quite the beast as a 5yr old. I raced him and galloped him myself so I already knew the ins and outs about him. He is built uphill and is compact at the same time. So he can honestly do a 10 foot stride or he can open up to quite a large stride. I did a little bit of flat with him and cross rails in between galloping for the races and everything seems to come easily to him. I was kind of hoping that sitting on something so tall would make the jumps look much smaller! My mare is 16.1 but a wide body. The step up in size really isn't too much different too me. However, because he is so uphill I feel more comfy on him because he is very naturally balanced. I'm hoping that means that things will come easy to him. We shall see! For now he's just hanging out in the pasture because I'm preggers and due in 9 days. I can't wait to see what the future holds for him!

Du Hast
Nov. 11, 2011, 04:20 PM
I have a big horse, 17'2.
I found that Scheineders (sstack.com) has nice 87+ sized blankets that fit the biggies. Decent price.

Nov. 11, 2011, 04:34 PM
I'm 5' on a tall day and own a 17H oldenburg! Coming off a 15.2hand connemara, it took me awhile to get used to his big stride but I love it! I haven't done anymore upkeep on him than I did my connemara. We just started Dressage training for eventing so learning how to package his stride is a bit of a task because I am so small but I wouldn't trade him for the world. He packs my butt around a jumper course perfectly.

Nov. 11, 2011, 04:56 PM
I thought it was less difficult to go from 16'3 to 17'2 than the other way: 16'3 to 15'3. (mainstay is 16'3, sold horse was 17'2, youngster is 15'3). But really things that bother me more are width of barrel and how the neck comes out of the shoulder - those are the tough things to adjust to, not hte size.

The ONE thing I do not miss about the 17'2 hand horse and I dearly love abouthe 15'3 hand horse is GETTING OF in the winter!

Nov. 11, 2011, 07:49 PM
My 7-year-old TB mare is 17.2hh and big all over - big boned, long legs, big shoulder, and big feet (size 4 front shoes). She also has a big step and, as others have mentioned, can be difficult to package. It has taken a lot of flat work to get her to a point where she can carry herself and where she doesn't eat up the lines and effortlessly leave out strides.

When I first got her she was quite strong and had huge, lofty gaits that took some getting used to. Now I much prefer the feeling of her movement over my 16.1hh gelding, and when I get on him I feel like I'm riding a pony, but that could be just her superior way of going rather than being simple a matter of size.

In general I haven't had trouble finding things to fit her, though I did have to get a lot of new stuff. Her 81 Rambos fit her great and have plenty of room through the shoulder and she wears a horse size Edgewood bridle (and close to the first hole). She does wear a 58 girth but I was able to find a really nice one on eBay.

As for soundness and maintenance, yes it has been a challenge. She did race a few times and I believe that it is likely that they did too much with her too soon and as a result put too much wear and tear on her joints. I would definitely be weary of a big OTTB as I realize that the racing industry is not well-suited for a large horse who might take longer to develop.

This year we have had to start joint injections, as well as monthly Adequan and regular Legends in addition to the Cosequin that she's been getting for the last couple of years. But at the same time, she is in training to be a 3'6 hunter, so perhaps she would be needing less maintenance now if she had stayed at a lower level. But then again, 2'6 or even 3' is like cross-rails for her :lol:.

I do get off of her REALLY slowly in the winter when my feet are blocks of ice. And we have a huge mounting block at the barn that someone with bad knees had custom made. At shows you learn to be creative in looking for ways to get on your horse.

Nov. 11, 2011, 07:50 PM
I have a 18 hand Danish WB and LOVE LOVE LOVE him! His stride is amazing and jumps that I think are big, he just canters over.

I don't think he has more soundness issues than my 16 2 hand horse - but he is built well and has nice solid bone.

I am 5' 9" so I think I don't look too small on him for equitation purposes and that's what we are working to do... and I have to say, now that I have owned a big horse I don't think I would ever buy anything under 17 hands.

Here we are doing our first real jumping show together. (he was a Dressage horse most his life and I lucked out by buying him a few years ago)


Oh and yes getting used to the power when it is offered up can be a bit humbling :) And in the video I can see myself getting in front and behind my horse and I just want to hug him, say sorry and thank him!! I was just worried about my leads... he and I are working on that :)

Nov. 11, 2011, 07:52 PM
It did take me time to get used to my 17h horse, moving up from my 15.3 horse, but truly the issue was just getting used to his movement!

My first horse is your typical poorly-bred OTTB: short, choppy stride, high-set head, crappy little feet, on the quick side and with a heart of gold. My second horse has a thrusty, ground-covering trot. I had to learn how to post all over again, and adjust my concept of pace!! At first, I had a tendency to keep my big guy at a very, very slow pace because in the saddle, it felt like the world was flying by simply because of his big step. Once my trainer pointed out that the posts *should* go past faster than when I'm on my little guy because of the natural size of my new horse's step, I figured out how to ride him. But it took a little bit of time to trust my perception of how quickly we were (and should be) moving.

But I have spent WAAAAY LESS keeping this horse sound, but he is also well-built. Not a conformation winner, per se, but he is proportionate, with thick bone, good hooves and a natural way of going that doesn't exacerbate the wear and tear of being a horse in work.

I did have to search a little to find a suitable saddle for him because he is a wide TB boy who looks like he should wear warmblood clothes but actually needs oversized TB clothes... but Trumbull Mountain found me the exact right saddle on the 2nd or 3rd try so I'm not complaining.

Yes, I wish the ground were closer in the winter time, but there are ways of making it less torturous. I love love love my big guy, and really can't see myself going back to anything smaller when it's time for the next horse. I'm also somewhat tall (5'7") and, um, generously built so a tall, thick horse makes me more comfortable both in terms of my vanity and my conscientious desire not to hurt a horse.

It's funny, actually, when people realize *just* how big he is.

A friend on her fjord was trail riding with me the other night (yes, night!) and had to pony us through a particularly terrifying section of the trail (you know, the point that is the exact furthest from home!). We got back and went to the indoor to hack around for a few minutes but the garage-door style door was half lowered. I kept insisting there was no way we would fit in there, but the Fjord friend insisted. I knew it was going to be close, and that I would have to duck lower than humanly possible and flatten myself out on his neck, making my center of gravity dangerously off center and compromising my ability to see or steer. She agreed to pony us in, insisting that I was being silly. We got in safely, but my entire back was covered in "bottom-of-the-door-dust".

I was speechless when she said, "Huh, I guess he *is* big".

You think? hahahaha

Nov. 11, 2011, 07:58 PM
Now I much prefer the feeling of her movement over my 16.1hh gelding, and when I get on him I feel like I'm riding a pony, but that could be just her superior way of going rather than being simple a matter of size.

In general I haven't had trouble finding things to fit her, though I did have to get a lot of new stuff. Her 81 Rambos fit her great and have plenty of room through the shoulder and she wears a horse size Edgewood bridle (and close to the first hole). She does wear a 58 girth but I was able to find a really nice one on eBay.

:lol: So true on feeling like you are riding a pony after getting off the biger horse...

I forgot about that and forgot about finding tack to fit. I had to have a custom girth made because I wanted a sheepskin girth and had a 62" made. And finding a 90 blanket is not easy. :)

Nov. 11, 2011, 08:02 PM
I leased a 17.1 horse, he had a lot of soundness problems. He was off the track so probably had some wear and tear on him before starting his 3'6" jumper (and later briefly hunter) career. If I remember right he had very weak stifles and his hocks bothered him some. He was sold off to another owner who loved him. He started having a lot of issues and after a dozen misdiagnoses of everything from EPM to an abscess....they eventually it was found out that he had significant arthritis in his back (he had a VERY long back), pretty much every joint on his legs particularly his front fetlocks and stifles, and I believe he also had some hairline fractures to his front cannon bones. I'm not completely sure on all the details since the new owner lived out of state. Sadly, he had to be euthanized due to the extent of all those issues. I can't say if it was his size, genetics, or his lifestyle that caused all of that--just one sad little anecdote.

He was a joy to ride and had an front end over fences. He was a chronic 4-faulter in the jumper ring because he was lazy with his hind end, but everyone still loved him.

Nov. 11, 2011, 09:44 PM
looking for thoughts on people's experiences with large horses?

1) did it take you a while to get used to the ride?
2) have you noticed more upkeep to keep them sound?
3) other issues/things you've learned?

I'm contemplating a nice prospect, great mind, lovely personality. Nice jump, could go into the hunter ring or the jumper ring, just needs the miles to figure out where he will fit the best. I'd start by developing him for the hunter ring. On the flat, he's green, but doesn't feel heavy.

I'm 5'7 and 140 pounds so I'm not a peanut, but my other horses are 16 and 16-1 so this is a new feeling for me (it looks like a long way down when I'm in the saddle) and thought you might have some thoughts.

I went from a 15.1 tb to a 16.1 tb to a 16.3 appendix to a 17.3 warmblood. So quite the ladder up to the height! I'm also 5'1'' and was super tiny on her.

I did not think it took time to get used to the ride, because I don't think size always affects the ride. I've ridden 17.2h horses who rodes like a 15hander and ponies who rode like horses. It all depends on the mount. With scope and a big stride, a 16h could feel bigger than a small strided 18 hand horse!

I only leased for six months, but shes been at my barn for going on four years now and is up there in age. She has not had any soundness problems at all, and that is with 10 year of jumper wear and tear on her legs.

The only issues I've had with leasing a big horse, is that a lot of the stuff you buy isn't doing to fit a more normal sized horse. Oh well, more shopping I guess!

Nov. 11, 2011, 10:27 PM
Well, I'm all of 5'4 and my main ride right now is a tall 17.1 Hano mare who's an absolute powerhouse behind. Let me tell you, the first time she took the contact, dropped down and started pushing behind.. :eek: It was like sitting on top of a freight train.

This, after coming off a lazy 16.0 Oldenburg who was so smooth, it was like riding a La-Z-boy sofa. :D He'd been my main horse for a good five years before her, but surprisingly, the transition wasn't too bad.

I think the hardest thing for me was switching from one directly to the other, because they were SO different. That was very difficult to adjust to. Him first, she'd completely throw me off balance & out of the tack for the first few minutes. Her first, then being on him was like why are we going so sllllllllllooooooooooowwwwwwwww, I'm hardly posting. :lol:

As far as upkeep, we did have an older mare (13) for about a year who was tall & very long. She had some stifle issues stemming from prior ownership & career which was remedied with a combo of injections, supplements, and strengthening exercises. Other than that, most of our horses are young and are all on joint supplements in relation to workload, as more of a preventative/support than a solution. It gets adjusted as deemed necessary, but we've been lucky to not have very many soundness issues overall.

Can't think of any other issues off the top of my head other than the blanket sizing.. but as someone said, just an excuse for more shopping!

Nov. 12, 2011, 12:10 AM
I have a 16h WB and a 5 y.o. 18h WB mare.
This is the mare:

I haven't found soundness issues due to her size (or anything really...). If they are built right, they shouldn't have soundness issues... She's an easy keeper, too.
I still am trying to adapt to her dinosaur traits. I'm 5ft (and I'm bragging) so everything is over the top: her stride, her jump, her buck, etc. Even a playful nudge can send you splat against the wall. She is light and uphill (which I think is what you have to look for if you dig XL) so you can open or shorten her stride with ease. She is also light off the ground, too. I just have trouble finding that nice, flowing, free stride because when it's big, it's HUGE! I usually try to over collect her, but I swear I will let go as soon as the parachute I ordered arrives in the mail! ;)
I think the only difference is that big, big horses don't seem that handy and nimble. They need time to adapt to their overgrowing bodies, so they take a bit longer to grow out of their clumsiness. I guess you wont feel that quickness you would with a smaller horse, but they compensate with a bigger stride. Everything feels like it's a bit in slow motion.
If you are used to smaller horses, it will take some time to adapt, but nothing takes forever! Just be patient and be aware of what a big horse can and can't do!

Nov. 12, 2011, 01:35 AM
I haven't owned one, but I just rode a very nice nearly 18 hand Regular.. no wait, "High Performance" hunter. I will say... it's a very long way down. :lol:

It was a little hard for me to see/feel where I was to the jumps as his step was so enormous that it felt slow even though we were covering a lot of ground. So, I pushed him past a few distances. But, this is after usually riding one of the barn's small junior hunters so it was quite a change. I'm sure it's just like getting acquainted with the ride on any horse... over time you learn the feel and the ride.

Nov. 12, 2011, 08:48 AM
I think we make too much of height. The difference between 17HH and 16HH, 4 inches, and if the horse fits in a box, that's not much of a difference.

I have a few over 17HH(17.1/17.2/17.2/17.3), but I recently purchased a 14.2HH pony for my daughter who requires some work and I ride him, which has to look pretty funny, as I am 6'3", but besides being closer to the ground there is not much of a difference.

I do find that, for me, the biggest difference is what you have in front of you, especially if a taller horse has a little more neck. I however like to have a lot in front of me, regardless of height.

I think soundness is more of a conformation issue, if they are correct to begin with then there should not be any concerns simply because they are taller. A big box holds what is is supposed to as well as a little box.

Like most have stated, biggest issue will be getting stuff to fit them. I always find that it is hard to find girths and blankets off the rack, tend to order most of my stuff, which is kind of a non-issue since it usually only takes a day or so to get it from most online vendors.

Nov. 12, 2011, 09:26 AM
I do find that, for me, the biggest difference is what you have in front of you, especially if a taller horse has a little more neck. I however like to have a lot in front of me, regardless of height.

That makes sense. When I think about it, riding my 16.1hh guy feels like a pony now because I've got so much less in front of me. It's not that his neck is too short but it's not particularly long either. There are two medium ponies at the barn that I sometimes ride. One is built more like a little TB and has a longish neck, while the other's more like a zebra, and the former is just a way more comfortable ride.

My big girl has a neck proportional to the rest of her, and there's no better feeling than when she's really lifting her back and moving round and up into the bridle.

Nov. 12, 2011, 09:45 AM
Last time I measured my mare (a few years ago) she was 16.2hh. But she is a freakin tank (TBxPercheron). I used to have a 15.1hh gelding, and it was definitely a little adjusting when moving up. When i had them both at the same time I called him my sports car and her my 18 wheeler. When riding them back to back I could certainly tell a difference. Then again he was quicker, more agile, and smarter. She is much more lazy and can have a big stride if you get it out of her! Its not a hard adjustment though if you are not switching back and forth every day. Even then it's just a feeling difference that you can easily get used to. I would show them both on the same day with no issues. Just had to make sure I changed my mind set! But that was more personality then size related imo.

As far as maintenace you shouldn't have to worry too much as long as the horse did not experience a lot of physical stress before they were done developing. In my harness racing days the big horses always had soundness problems, but then again they were racing at 2 and were less developed them their smaller counterparts.

The most important thing I've learned is I LOVE my big girl, but I would much rather be on a smaller horse when she decides to do something stupid, or my behind finds the ground instead of the saddle!!

Nov. 12, 2011, 10:37 AM
The paint I broke this summer is 17.3 and a mare I rode at a lesson barn was 17+. They are a lot of work to get used to but very good for the equitation!!!

Nov. 12, 2011, 10:45 AM
In terms of what makes them easier/harder to ride, their width and body depth has more to do with it IMO. I have really long legs and have a hard time with a slab sided horse, even if it is a 17 hand slab sided horse. On the other hand, I had an OTTB that was 16 hands on his tippy toes but very solid and a deep girth. To this day, he felt like one of the biggest horses I have been on while riding, even though I have had several 17-18 hand horses since then.

I agree that people make WAY too big of a deal out of height. :)

Nov. 12, 2011, 12:40 PM
The last three horses I rode/ leased were 17+ hands. However, they were all very different. Overall, I didn't notice any difference between them and smaller horses in terms of upkeep- they each had their own upkeep issues that didn't have anything to do with their size, but rather with individual issues (i.e. corrective shoeing, injections, etc.) Two had a bit of arthritis, one because he was a 17 year old former BigEq horse and one from an old injury.

I've found that big horses have really sweet personalities (or maybe I just got lucky!). The biggest one was 18h and wore a 58 girth, but all he wanted was to put his head on your shoulder so you could stretch his face.

Maybe it's just because I'm used to big horses now, but I don't really remember having to get used to a different (bigger) ride... IN fact, one was short strided so I sometimes felt like I was riding a pony and having to kick for the horse strides! I think that each horse requires a different ride, so it's just what you get used to, no matter what the size.

Nov. 12, 2011, 01:08 PM
I have a TB who is over 18 hands. He does not eat more then the others but I do have to buy a stall and a half for him at the shows like HITS, it takes a tube and half to worm him, my trailer has to be x-large, he wears a 86" blanket, takes a 58' girth,and any meds he has to take are more, so basically he is almost like having 2 horses and he is WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY up there!

Nov. 12, 2011, 03:56 PM
I have had 2 OTTBs that were 17.1 and 17.3...

I had no special issues regarding their size at all. They both wore 86" blankets and 56" girths. They were nice to be around and good on the ground to trim, braid etc...

They also had huge strides so all the lines at the horse shows rode quiet! No matter where we showed - WEF or locally. LOVED that!

Both happened to be chestnut with white faces and multiple socks.

The "smaller" of the 2 was intended to be a race horse. A partner and I claimed him for $35,000. So it was a surprise (and relief) that after he was injured on the track, that with time off, he went on to become a very successful A/A hunter and sometimes when we could show in that division, A/O hunter for me as well...

I love and prefer the big ones! I miss both of these guys...

Nov. 12, 2011, 04:40 PM
I've had my guy for just about a year now. Went from a just 16.1 Han to an over 17 (I'm afraid to see how much) DWB. I was afraid he'd be a lot of horse to move around but he is the most comfortable ride I've ever had. I have him on a joint supplement because of his age (17) but, so far he's needed no more maintainance than any other horse I own. His wardrobe is a bit of an issue as nothing I had was super-sized but I bought as needed. I don't feel as if I'm in the stratosphere when mounted but do think "elevator going down" when dismounting and heaven forbid a judge ever ask to mount from the ground, I'm 5'5" - there are not enough holes in my stirrup leathers :) But, it's his heart that the biggest part of him, love him!!

Nov. 12, 2011, 05:07 PM
I have a 17.2 horse who is probably about that wide.

In terms of the "ride," he never took any getting used to. He has a fair amount of suspension and a big jump but he's very rideable. That's just him. What is difficult is packaging him and CHANGES-- but that's more because he's also long-backed than just his overall size, IMHO.

I have one of those long backed guys too- he is right under 17 hands, and his changes are harder than anything I've ever sat on. I always chalked it up to him being a *tad* longer in the back than I would like to see in a conformation hunter. Everything else about him is pretty easy. He has a giant stride, so packaging him up when needed can be tricky depending on his mood. Oh, and he bucks (hard and fast) at times so hitting the ground is not as pleasant if he were, say, 15 hands!

The other one I have is about the same height, but rides smaller. He is easy, I don't think Ive ever thought something would be easier if he were smaller.

I've never had soundness issues with either

Nov. 12, 2011, 06:00 PM
looking for thoughts on people's experiences with large horses?

1) did it take you a while to get used to the ride?
2) have you noticed more upkeep to keep them sound?
3) other issues/things you've learned?

Both of my horses are 17 plus.

1). 5 years ago when I moved from a puny TB to my big WB junior jumper, I literally got jumped right off of him almost every lesson for a month. He would leave long and just launch me. I was a 3 foot rider, still green back then, but literally every single lesson. I also had a hard time learning to post his trot.. very very athletic and bouncy

2). The junior jumper is 15.. never has had hock injections or any problems.. knock on wood knock on wood.. all he gets is a shot of polyglycan monthly. (he isn't showing anymore as I am in college).
The giant junior hunter is fine as well as far as upkeep goes. He's only 9 and has been off for a while due to an injury.. unrelated to height.

3)I've learned to cherish every. single. ride. I get on a pony!! :lol: I'm 6 foot, so big horses just feel normal to me.

War Admiral
Nov. 12, 2011, 08:27 PM
I prefer the big'uns. Last TB was 17.2 and WB-built - really quite huge. The only thing I did NOT like was having to really scramble for stuff that fit - halters, bridles, blankets, girths, etc.

I still maintain there's not a lot of difference between falling off 15.3 and falling off 17+. It's all in the velocity. My baby greenie, 15.3, can hurl you a THOUSAND times harder than my 17+ aged TB would have ever dreamt of doing.

Nov. 12, 2011, 09:33 PM
I've ridden a 17.2hh TBx a few times, and quite honestly, he felt just fine, and that was when I was used to jumping and riding my little [at the time] 13.3 half arab. I've also ridden a 15.2hh draft x paint, and he about flung me out of my saddle when we would jump over 3'! It all depends on the horse, I think.

Nov. 12, 2011, 11:47 PM
I had a 17hh QH once. Didn't love it! He was extremely large, not just in height but all over. I am pretty petite so...not a great fit.

Nov. 13, 2011, 03:25 AM
i didn't own her,but i part leased a 17.2 mare in '00.i'm only 5 ft tall(pudgy and short legged) and was definitely work for me to ride that big of a horse. i did walk/trot with her fine,but could never get the smooth canter depart.
as far as upkeep goes..i din't know,as i was just using her as a 4h lesson horse.
the only thing i learned is that 17.0+hh horses are just too much horse under me for my height.

Nov. 13, 2011, 07:43 AM
But I also get to ride many others that are if not bigger.
I am 5'6 .
So for me the goal is all the same.

My jumper I have had for 8 yrs and is the most adjustable beast ever.
So he is my template for everyone else.
Some are not as handy but I am pushing them to be . Some can't collect as well but I am pushing them to be. I really think it is how you take the aids and break down and mix them up. Look at Margie ,, she is my idol!!!

Nov. 13, 2011, 08:30 AM
I have had a few horses over 17 hands.. current main ride is 18.2, (a client's) frankly I think optimal competition size is 16.2 -17h, I think that size stays sound better and longer.
I do tons of flatwork on the bigger horses just to be able to stay round,soft and have an adjustable stride. Getting to a show with courses set at 12' means having a nice round Pepe Le Peu stride. Out on the field is roomier and better and its fun to open up occasionally.
But really the bigger joints/weight/soundness is a concern.

Nov. 13, 2011, 08:54 AM
I switched around a lot at the H/J barn, from 15 to 16 to 17 something.

What I noticed was that size doesn't always go with length of stride, the 16 hand guy never was such a change it bothered me but the 17 hand guy had a very long stride and I had to re think all my distances. He also made a schooling height fence, say 2 foot, "not enough fence". I always had the impression we were going "too" fast even though it was a good pace for him.

Clothing wise I wound up with girths in all sizes and amazingly enough the biggest girth went on the portly 16 hand Appy, NOT the 17 hand guy.

I enjoy riding the pony because he is close to the ground and easy to get on and off but if I had to choose I would buy the horse that is the best fit - that has the training and style that works for me and that I have confidence in, height would be secondary.

Chaotic Chloe
Nov. 13, 2011, 08:59 AM
I have a 17.3 WB and it did take a while to get use to his massive body. He's very powerful and good manners are a must. Thank goodness he's a good boy and very submissive.
The main problem, is finding clothes that fit him!:D

Nov. 13, 2011, 09:38 AM
I have an 18h Dutch Warmblood. I don't find that his height has been an issue but he, like a few others have mentioned, is loonngg backed and keeping his hind end engaged is HARD. Getting on the forehand or behind the leg is easy!! Thankfully, he is wonderful and a great partner. He has beautiful manners, auto changes, and NEVER holds a grudge.

I bought him 5 years ago as an 8 year old and at the time, our vet was concerned about future soundness. Knock on wood, he has proved him wrong.

Nov. 13, 2011, 11:27 AM
I appreaciate it. I had another lesson on the horse and the size didn't seem like an issue anymore. We'll see if it's the one.

Nov. 13, 2011, 01:25 PM
I appreaciate it. I had another lesson on the horse and the size didn't seem like an issue anymore. We'll see if it's the one.

Good luck :)

I think a good horse can come in any color, any breed or any size...

I just like the bigger horses because I don't have to diet as much :lol:

Nov. 13, 2011, 01:53 PM
I have a 3 yr. old who was just under 17.1 last time I measured her. I'm a long legged 5'7" so I appreciate the larger barrel. She's only been off the track a few months, and because of her size and age, I'm going very slowly with her. She hasn't got the biggest trot in the world, but a nice canter. Her trot will improve, but again, I'm not pushing her yet. It was not hard going up in size, but my 16 hand mare looks pretty small to me now. :)

Nov. 13, 2011, 07:19 PM
My 4 y.o. is 17.2 1/2hh and still growing (hopefully not much more!). There are things I love and things I hate.

From a distance, he seems 'average'; when you get close, you realize it's just that the proportions are 'good'. His head is HUGE, his ears wear through the tips on his fly mask. If his feet get bigger it's gonna cause some grief because his shoes won't be standard anymore. He can still wear an 84" blanket, but I'm not sure if that'll hold true as he matures - again, moving up would mean he'd need bigger than most standard sizes.

I'm not sure I agree about that distance to the ground thing.... When my big baby launches into a big buck, it puts you way above the ground! It might not hurt any more to hit the ground from up there, but it sure does look farther away!!

I lovelovelove a big moving horse. I have decided to sell my boy and have basically replaced him with a lovely 'little' 16hh TB. There is nothing wrong with him, but he just seems small to me. I have a blast on the little guy, but I sure do miss that big canter. AND, I'm an average sized gal, but the big horse makes me feel petite :D

FWIW, my big guy doesn't eat significantly more than his smaller pals. He does require larger doses of medicine, wormer, supplements, etc.

Nov. 13, 2011, 07:44 PM
looking for thoughts on people's experiences with large horses?

1) did it take you a while to get used to the ride?
2) have you noticed more upkeep to keep them sound?
3) other issues/things you've learned?

Horses I've owned/leased that were over 17h: 17.3h, 17.1h, 18.1h

1) No longer than adjusting to any new horse
2) Yes, more upkeep for sure, careful scheduling of work and maintenance
3) Size does not automatically equal big movement, etc. A small horse can ride big, and vice versa. Don't let size fool you-get on and ride! :)

Nov. 13, 2011, 08:28 PM
Me! My old horse Tall Tales (RIP :sadsmile: ) was a 17h TB. I came off a medium pony, was looking for a large pony, had a HUGE growth spurt in the time when we were looking for a large pony, and ended up with a 17h horse instead! He was awesome; he taught me so much and we had some amazing seasons together.

I missed the question about adjusting...it was a bit different for me to adjust because I came off of a pony haha so I had to adjust from a pony stride to a horse stride, but it actually didn't take that long to figure everything out! I personally would not be too concerned about moving from a 16h horse to a 17h horse but I guess that could be because I did it via moving from a pony! The striding is really dependent on the horse, not on the size. I don't know anything about your other horses, but just because they are a hand smaller does not mean that they will have smaller strides than the bigger horse. They could have the same size stride, bigger, smaller, etc. So after that rambling paragraph...I wouldn't be too concerned about the transition to a bigger horse and at least for me, the distance to the ground from a 16 hand horse to a 17 hand horse isn't that huge :)

As far as soundness is concerned, Tall Tales (Lewis) was diagnosed with navicular disease which ultimately ended his showing career. However, I have no way of knowing if that was due to his height and I honestly don't think it had anything to do with it. When I was looking for another horse after Lewis was retired, I had no qualms about looking at other 17h horses because I didn't feel that his soundness issue was correlated to his height.

Here are a couple pictures of my boy:

Devon 2005:

Dabbling in the jumpers..you can see how big he is here:

NAL finals 2005

Nov. 14, 2011, 09:29 AM
The kindest and most talented hunter I have ever owned is 17.2. He makes riding easy. I have leased him to a 13 yr old hunter rider and they are cleaning up at the shows. He is honest, patient and will just take you where you need to go. He was my first horse as i got back into riding after 20 years off, and I owe him so much. xoxoxox Search!

Nov. 14, 2011, 09:39 AM
bascher, he was ADORABLE!

Nov. 14, 2011, 10:57 AM
I have had lots of horses of all sizes over the years.

I do think bigger horses wear out a bit faster, all things considered. A lot of weight for the joints to bear. If they have any conformational weakness in the legs, the additional weight adds more stress on it. I have ended up doing more injections/maintenance on the big guys, comparatively, and they ended up passing on in their early to mid-twenties instead of their mid-thirties like my ponies. And goodness knows short horses can go lame for any number of reasons -- and that some tall horses are sound as the day is long.

I would not let that put me off a big one. My youngster is going to be right at 17 hands when he finishes growing -- I am tall and look best on a big horse.

I do not think they are necessarily harder to ride. That depends on the horse!

My big baby eats half what my 16h TB does. He's an easy keeper and very laid back.

Nov. 14, 2011, 12:48 PM
bascher, he was ADORABLE!

Thanks! He taught me so much :sadsmile:

Nov. 14, 2011, 02:50 PM
looking for thoughts on people's experiences with large horses?

1) did it take you a while to get used to the ride?
2) have you noticed more upkeep to keep them sound?
3) other issues/things you've learned?

1) Not really. When I bought my monster, I was in a program at my barn that had me riding a lot of different horses of all shapes and sizes. In fact, with mine, I found it easier to jump him, because, although he is big, he has a nice flat jump that is easy as pie to equitate on.

2) No more maintenance than on anyother horse.

Nov. 14, 2011, 03:19 PM
I have a big boy. I haven't actually sticked him, but he's got to be around 18hh I would think? Here are some pics:

from when I first bought him and brought him home

he's a handsome man =)

jumping (these are 3'3 - 3'6.. they look TINY):

I am 5'1 and he is mega massive, but his barrel is not that large so it is very possible for me to ride him. I've put most of his formal training on him, and put his show record on him. I personally feel that being a large horse he is much easier to equitate on over fences because he doesn't really try until 4'+ but he is much harder for me to equitate on the flat. I like riding him, because he is a very honest, good natured horse and i've found that the skills I've learned doing jumpers and medals on him make it sooo much easier when I get on a horse more my size.

I have had zero issues with his feet (he is barefoot all winter and the only reason I shoe him is for traction on the grass) and he gets no joint supplements and I have never gotten his hocks injected, and hasn't been lame at all since I've got him, which was 3 years ago. He shows regularly in the summer and I lesson once or twice a week. He is a hard keeper, so he gets unlimited hay (alfalfa/brome) and also beet pulp + alfalfa pellets, rice bran, flax, step 8 Hi-fat feed and oats.. and he is still very level headed.

I think because he is fairly well built he is able to excel at jumping even though he is so large. I have no problems making the strides, even in combinations, and he is adjustable enough to add down a line if I wanted to, even at 3'6. I have no more problems with him of any kind than i've had with the smaller horses I have owned.

Nov. 15, 2011, 10:15 AM
I don't actually think moving up to a very large horse 17-18 hands is that large of deal. I think moving down is haha. I lease a 17 hand horse for a while with a large barrel, after my lease ended I went back to a slim 15.3 hander. His barrel felt tiny and he kind of felt like I was riding a pony. When I went back to the 17 hander it wasn't a big difference at all. It really depends on the horse. I even went from a 15.3 hand with a large barrel then to a 15.3 with a normal size barrel and there was a huge difference. Bigger horses aren't really a big step to move up, but they will make smaller horses feel like ponies the next time you ride them. I think the one thing that really makes the difference is the barrel size or overal build change from horse to horse.