I'll admit, I'm a little bit heightist, not that I won't consider a smaller horse, but given two equal horses, the bigger one would be my pick. For me it isn't a question of the horses capability, but a question of aesthetics. I'm 5'5" with a long torso, and in general I look funny (top heavy) on anything in the 15-15.3 range, unless they're very broad and long backed. I think it has a lot to do with the length of the hip from flank to tail, but don't ask me why. My own horse is 1/4" shy of 15hh, but has a pretty broad hip and I look pretty normal on her, same with the 13.1hh Haffie I rode the other day.
I do think as a seller, even in the western world, its harder to sell a horse that's considered "short" versus one thats considered a "big" horse.
People thing bigger horse=bigger fences. Which isn't true. Also people are obsessed with looking small on their ponies as of right now, which is why height is such a big factor. But I mean, I currently have a small bodied 16.2 horse but my project pony is 15.3 and people always think he's the big one because he is so big bodied. IDK people are crazy.
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Right now I own a 15.3+ TB, who walks the lines at a crawl. He has been amazing, never stopped at ANYTHING in the 10.5 years of owning him. Won a ton, but could I manage to sell him? The deadly combo of his size and being a TB has given me pride of ownership, likely til the end of his days. Even at a reasonable price after winning 2 serious provincial championships. He hax been amazing, but wouldnt buy under 16+ again.
Yeah, I keep forgetting that hunters now is more about slow than sweepy movement.
But the problem is...a 17hh + horse is never going to have a big or floaty step with 12' stride lines. If the horse has decent movement, 17hh and over with average to long length legs should have around a natural 14' stride.
Ah, but the lines are longer in the bigger classes. 13.5' or 14'. The horse has to be able to lope down those lines.
I've seen plenty of large horses with short strides and vice versa. Sadly, people will choose based a number rather than if the horse is right for them and the job at hand.
I tend to prefer 16.1 ish, but slab sided. I have very round thighs...and a slab sided horse helps my leg look a bit longer. My current horse is close to 16.2 and very narrow... I love his build. My previous horse was 16.1+ and very narrow, but I didn't like his build as much. the other horse I'm riding is 16-ish and his build is okay...and he has the longest stride of the bunch...as in I can leave one out and no one would know the difference if they weren't counting. My trainers wee baby who is just finally inching up to 16 hands has the biggest stride I've seen in a long time.
People really should evaluate the horse by what it can do, not by a random number. And sellers really should stick their horses before selling them so they aren't guessing.
*My step brother just told me his wee daughter (probably not even 4' yet) is riding a 17h horse. Showed me a picture: daughter is about mid barrel on the horse. No WAY is that horse 17h...but I didn't want to burst their bubble. Many people seriously overestimate horse height.
Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"
I've actually become a bit of a heightist. And I feel silly admitting that since I'm barely 5'3. I'm definitely a little chunky right now, so that kind of plays into it, but I'm a strong, balanced and pretty experienced rider.
My first, and now retired horse is about 15hh, some might argue 15.1. He's an appendix with a big barrel that really takes up your leg, and looks very well proportioned, but feels downhill when you get him properly collected. Add to that his nasty habit of twist, buck, bolt and I have a long ingrained fear of the disappearing neck now. Despite this slight attitude issue he is still one of the nicest horses I've even ridden. He is super handy, gets down the lines, and is just so comfy (until he tries to ditch you that is!).
Because of him I've always been tempted by the other size-rejects in the size range you're talking about. I go for the more upright type, but with short legs always liked the idea of small and handy.
However it has never worked out so far. I tried several in the 15-16hh range and I never felt like there was enough horse. Not even aesthetically, just that there was nothing in front or behind me.
I gave up since I really had no money to be looking any way, until my new guy fell into my lap. He's registered 16.2, though I think that's pushing it a little. He doesn't seem tall, but is a nice, long and round hunter type. Just a solid warmblood. Though I sometimes don't like how tall I feel on him, I love the amount of horse in front and behind me.
Riding other friends' horses these days I've realized I'm not a heightist necessarily, but am definitely a type-ist. If they're a long and low type I want them bigger, I hate feeling like I'm pitched over their head in two point. If they're more upright then size doesn't matter as much. And I swear, I will never ride the disappearing neck ones again, there's nothing like jumping an x and suddenly having literally nothing in front of you!
Last edited by Jax; Dec. 3, 2012 at 01:53 AM.
Reason: too rambling
Haven't read through the whole thread but I think LittleCreek's story is the reason why lots of people avoid under 16.1/16. Rockstar horse but no resale value due to the rest of the horse world not wanting something on the 'smaller side'. Even if you don't particularly care about height you want to have a horse that will sell if you want/need to.
I'm 5'8" and muscular so I want something with substance, height/weight/shape of barrel whatever form it comes in. It does bother me a little bit to go from something 'longer' to something 'shorter' (associated with height -hopefully unless it's a weirdly conformed horse lol) similar to what Jax said.
The good news is, as my textiles teacher told us to our horror in the height of the 1 inch zipper on our jeans, that in style, 'what goes up must come down'. Aka pant waists were bound to go up because they had nowhere else to go and I think horse height will come down, as a trend, even though horse trends take a while longer to develop.
I've seen talks on this board of the smaller sport horse for those who don't want to hit the ground from such a height. And economically speaking, a smaller horse is at least a little more sustainable. Also more and more research is coming out about the larger horses being sounds for less time.
Although width/length/shape play into size as well, I think the heightism trickles down, as regardless of your personal preferences, 16+ seems a safer investment. So even if you're not heightist, you're buying for someone down the road who might be.
The aesthetic argument is tough though. I have been turned away by several *sellers* for being too tall for their horse (I'm 5'9, not overweight, horses were ~15.3). That messes with your own sense of what appropriate matches might be.
A flip side to our h/j height issues...I ran across a little QH mare last year who was marketed at 13.3. When I inquired b/c I thought it might be a typo and the 13.3 maybe supposed to read 15.3, the owner was surprised. "Why would you want something that tall?!?!?!" Turns out he and his buddies were trail riders and they like the littler "horses." He told me a lot of folks in his circles actually market the horses smaller than they are to get them sold!! wth???
This is just my opinion, from what I've seen buying and selling horses 10 years ago, plus what I've been noticing lately.
Yes, for some reason people WANT gigantic horses. Maybe they are afraid of breaking the butt rule, maybe it's competitiveness, maybe it's the judging...but I see the height thing being an issue with people who are short/thin, not competitive, not showing. But when people say they are looking, they may mention a preference for a mare/gelding, mention a breed, and mention a height.
So what I saw 10 years ago: everyone lied about height. Everyone. If the horse was marketed at 15h, it was 14.2ish. Marketed at 16.2, it was 16h shod and due from a trim. And no one could eyeball it. I boarded at a barn where the BO was consistently two inches high, and I pissed her off once because I sticked her "17h foxhunter" at 16.2. Why was it important that the horse be 17h, I don't know. So everyone got it in their heads that taller was better, and added some height, and everyone ELSE got used to being fibbed to and starting looking at "taller" horses for sale so they would get closer to the height they thought they wanted. I had lots of people come out to see a true 16.1 h TB mare, who then walked away because she was "too tall." Erm??
Anyways, that's my opinion.
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hmmm, I'm 5'7" and my junior hunter/big eq horse/pony club mount was 15.3 3/4 and I felt that was pretty much the perfect height. I'd much rather have him be a hair under 16 h, than be 16 even, though he was sold to me as 16 h. And no, 3'6" was NEVER a problem... nor was getting striding.
That said, it's all about resale right? And it's a self fulfilling prophecy because everyone wants somethig 16.2- 17 hands so when you are looking for a horse you will eventually need or want to sell, you also want one in that range. I hate kids on big giant horses... every parent seems to think their kids are going to be Amazon height apparently. When my daughter moves up from ponies, I hope there is a nice 15.3 hunter as a next step.
Well folks, the dressage world seems to be just the same:
A few years ago I had a guy call looking for an at least 17h bomb-proof horse. I told him I had 3 big-bodied horses that sticked at 16.3h that any man would feel good on, but he passed. I tried to convince him for a while but stopped after he told me it had to be no older than 3.
A 17h+ bomb-proof 3 year old. Nope, I ain't got that.
I was completely heightist (and a bit breedist to be honest) and refused to buy my 15.1 and a half (at the time, he's now 15.3) APHA heart horse from my MIL because I just knew I needed something around 16.2 - 17.2... I ended up buying him because she was about to sell him to a barrel racer and I didn't want to see that happen to my perfect 2'6 hunter. I ended up falling into an awesome situation not much longer after that and I got a heck of a deal on a 17 hand warmblood... 4 years later I'd rather ride my 15.3 overo hunter (awesome username ) than my 17 hand warmblood. But I do have to admit that the warmblood is a million times more athletic and a much better mover
I think most people care about height because we are all ingrained to think that because the strides are based upon an average size horse, that we need to have at least 16H to give us the best chance of making the lines.
Plus, there are so many 'fish in the sea' for buyers, that they have to narrow the search down somehow. Height and age are typically the first standards to be chosen. No one really knows if they might have to sell their horse one day and until a group of people start making 15 handers a trend, everyone will stick to the 16H or more rule. Horse people don't do well with big changes....
IMO 16H is perfect for me. I am 5'4 and can get on from the ground.
From what I believe, going back to what a hunter is there are not mounting blocks in the field. If you could not get on your horse from the ground in a pinch, your horse is too big. (Pending no physical issues).
That said, it's all about resale right? And it's a self fulfilling prophecy because everyone wants somethig 16.2- 17 hands so when you are looking for a horse you will eventually need or want to sell, you also want one in that range. .
Yep...and I bought myself a TB knowing that I would have a hard time selling him even though he is a lovely horse to be around...easy to ride, easy to keep, just plain easy. thankfully, he's close to 16.2, so I won't have THAT particular hurdle to jump.
Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"
I think so many people over estimate the height of horses that their eye becomes totally off, so they assume anything under 16 hands is a midget.
This. Lucky is not a heavily-built horse, and he's a skosh under 16hh at the withers, so he is not especially big. But at the barn? The only other horse who even looked tall at all was Dino the GV. Next to QHs and paints Lucky looked huge! One other TB who was there for a while was a clear 16.2 and he towered over everyone.
And I do think there's a height bias. If you are actually TALL, with long legs, yes, you probably look better on a bigger horse. Heck, Old OTTB was 15.2, making him about 1.5" shorter than Lucky, which is not a lot and doesn't even feel like much when I'm on him, but in photographs I can see a significant difference between the two (I look better on Lucky.) But the tiny rider/huge horse thing looks ridiculous.
I'm all for big horses. I'm also 6' tall with a 35" inseam. Just for giggles, here's me on 15.3+, race fit TB. While I certainly love a sporty little horse and would rip up the pony jumpers if I could shrink myself, it's a little ridiculous looking. Out of all the riding pictures I have of myself, the best fit was a 17.3 Irish foxhunter built like a brick sh*thouse with a super long neck. My current TB is 16.3 and has a long neck, and I feel pretty good on him although I would like more barrel for no-stirrups and bareback rides.
I also assume when looking at horse ads that everything is at least 2" shorter than advertised. Therefore I look at 16.2 hoping to get at least 16h. It's a shame because the ones I'm drawn to at first glance are always 15h mares!