I am 5'6" with longish legs and have a 14.2hh arabian. I weigh considerably more than you, OP, and he has no issues carrying me around, including XC schooling. Our biggest issue is that he is rather fine and I find him a bit uncomfortable because of the length of my legs. I have to ride in short stirrups or my knees and hips ache from trying to keep my lower leg on him. I LOVE small horses-- my "big" horse is a whopping 15.3!
I think he's around 14.1-2 (welsh/tb). He's not heavy boned, but not super light either. He is wide though and could definitely hold your weight. He is standing next to a 16H Hol/x for reference.
I'm 5'4 and the only thing that took a bit of adjustment was feeling a little top heavy even though my body is pretty proportionate. As he matured and got wider, I don't feel like that at all anymore. I can barely tell the difference between him and my horses when I ride.
Definitely go for it and test ride some ponies! My little dude is 14.1 1/2 and I am 5'4 and 120lbs. I LOVE ponies. Love them. My DH, who is about your height and definitely heavier than you, rides the pony too and they do just fine together! Hubby is even learning to jump on him and he handles a slightly unbalanced, taller rider like a pro.
And to chime in on the "pony gaits" issue, try and look into a "sport pony" type. They tend to be more like very small WB's than a true "pony" and can have lovely horse-like movement. My guy is a GRP and moves like the big kids, he feels just like a big horse, just shorter.
There is one big issue with ponies that nobody has brought up yet. The gait is very important. It is no fun to ride pony gaits. I find no joy in posting a thousand beats a minute. I have no wish to tranter. I appreciate that some horse have awful gaits too, but I think the bigger stride makes it easier to tolerate. I am at the age now when my needs can't take rapid fire posting.
So yes, adults can definitely ride ponies, but there will be much greater happiness if it's a pony with horse gaits.
When I went to look at my guy, a 14.3 hand Paint, I was downsizing from a tall, narrow Saddlebred. My first comment to my "trainer" was, "I feel so big on him!" Well, now I've had him for 3 years, and he feels just right! I'm only 5'1", so I certainly am not too big for him. It just takes a little getting used to again if you're moving down.
And one of my friends from my pony club days was about your height and she was quite happy on her 14.2-14.3 hand arab.
I love ponies and one day will have another one like my first that both rides and drives!
Not currently showing...but still wouldn't want to dwarf a poor little pony, either! Can't see the pics of all the super ponies until later this evening, but I am sure I will die from the cuteness. I was going to ask about GRPs - very elegant from the ones I've seen.
Serigraph - what a gorgeous pony! Maybe my perception is off, but your guy doesn't look very small next to the 16-hander!
Caradino - super star indeed! Again, I wouldn't have guessed pony is a pony. You fit each other so well.
Amm2cd - ah, yes. GRPs are exactly as I remembered. Haven't had a chance just yet to check out the 2nd link, but the first link/photo is super elegant (can "elegant" still be elegant when paired with "super"?!!).
Dani0303 - you look great on the grays!
I'm excited to start test riding some lil' ones now that I know it's possible to not overwhelm/dwarf a pony with my height/weight.
My dad preferred small horses, large ponies actually. He weighed between 180-210lbs and his western saddle was about 50lbs. The last two critters he rode was a 13.3 hand mare and a 14.3 gelding. Both packed him all day. Actually the mare was better than the gelding.
When I was in my teens, I was obsessed with the thought that I needed a tall horse. I had/have a 15.1h horse, which I know is not considered a pony, but every other horse at my barn was 16h+. My old trainer would always call my mare a pony, and tell me to upgrade. I probably would have, but I was terrible at selling the "pony" and it didn't even occur to me to ask someone for help with selling her.
I more recently got a 17h horse that ended up being not fun for me. In dealing with her, I realized how much I prefer the smaller ones. I don't feel intimidated when they act badly, and it's a benefit to be closer to the ground, although when I was going from riding the 17h to the 15h, there were a few incidents where my ankles were not prepared for hitting the ground so quickly. Ouch. It's also nice to be able to mount up without a block too.
My thought is, you may feel silly while you tack up, but once you're on, all is good.
I'm so glad I didn't end up selling years ago - I wish I could clone this horse I love her so much.
I do agree with the poster who said find one with horse gaits. I'm sure I would feel much differently if I felt like I was riding a sewing machine.
My mare is getting up there in age, so when I was looking recently, I went right for GRP and am now the proud owner of a GRP colt. He's going to mature about 14.1. I love everything I've read and seen with the GRP and I am super excited to own one. He's such a smart little guy with a great personality.
Husband is 5'10" and weighs about 170lb. She totes him around happily as well. In the past I put some time on a much smaller 13h pony and while I felt a little awkward at first, he was very cobby and carried me easily. Oh, and then there was this guy: Cody who was also 14.1-2.
So, yes. You can have a pony and you'll look just fine.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
I've been on stocky but short beasts and was shocked to find the ground that close when I dismounted, barrel size makes more of a difference then height. I used to ride loooooooots of ponies and only ones I felt weird on were the really short and narrow ones.