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How big is too big?

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  • How big is too big?

    Still looking for my low level event horse. I rode and loved riding a really big guy but at 18 hands I wonder if that is just too big? I am only looking to go Novice level.

  • #2
    It really depends on the ride-ability of the horse. If the horse is well balanced and light on the aids then it only becomes too big when you can't comfortably sit on the horse. If the horse is heavier and a puller then too big starts much smaller.

    I know a 17.3hh horse being ridden by a 5'2" professional. The only reason not to buy him was his size and it has worked out great. he is slower to put on muscle mass and she has to work a bit harder to get her leg in the right place, especially jumping, but he is well balanced and not a puller (he goes in a leather bit, he is so worried about bit pressure).

    The one thing to keep in mind with such a big horse is they are harder on their joints and feet. Be prepared for more joint maintenance earlier and really keep on top of the feet to make sure the angles don't get wonky.
    "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline


    • #3
      I have two 17.3 OTTB's I event with at the lower levels. I love the big ones, and am decent at riding them - although a lot to put together - it's the size I prefer under me. I'm 5'7 / 135lb-ish.....


      • Original Poster

        Thanks! I am concerned about keeping him sound. And he would be an adjustment to jump as his stride is so big. But he is honest from what I have seen and even when I get him in wrong he gets to the other side. I do love the fact that he makes me work a bit. Take your leg off, he stops. Lose contact he gets strung out. I have a 17 h TB that I can set on auto pilot...very easy to get sloppy!


        • #5
          My favorite guy is 17.3hh and I need a nice big mounting block to get on him as I'm 5'3. I know lots of big horses with short strides, big horses with big strides, big horses that are sound, big horses that aren't all there conformation wise, some that were ridden to the ground and being so big it had a major impact on them... honestly, find a horse that YOU like regardless of size. Take care of your horse... take extra precautions. You'll be fine.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks! I am like 6' tall and used a table to get on! Honestly I don't think this guy has worked TOO hard in his life. But I had a hard day at work and then after riding him I went home with a big smile on my face. But he is at the top of my price range and not a spring chicken so it does concern me that something might go wrong with him.

            I am all over the place with the decision making process as you can tell!


            • #7
              I had a sales horse come through a few years ago that was an 18.1 TB/Clyde. He was huge, but oh so light and easy to ride. I would have had no problem eventing him. I'm also tall at 6'1", but I usually ride smaller horses in the 16h range. I really liked this guy and had he been in my price range I would have bought him in a heartbeat!


              • #8
                I had a 17.3 ISH who wasn't just tall - he was huge in every way. While I did love him and learn a lot, I would really think before owning a horse that size again. In January, I had to retire him due to coffin joint arthritis and ended up putting him down in May. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered the arthritis, it was moderate-severe and had compromised his shoulder and back. I cannot stress how important excellent foot care is for horses of that size. My horse weighed in the range of 1600 lbs and that is a lot of weight for their feet to carry.

                Not trying to discourage you in any way but here are some other things to consider:
                - Trailering - I wasn't able to find a warmblood size trailer in my budget so my horse travelled in both stalls of my 2 horse slant. Moving horse around is something to think about because he won't fit in every trailer.
                - Stalls/Other small areas - my horse (and other large horses I've known) was much more claustrophic about small spaces than the average horse. I had to be a little choosy about where we went to show, etc because of stall size. He also did not like the barn aisle of the indoor arena where I boarded for 2 winters. It was too small for him and that created anxiety for him. It was built as a QH barn and when he was tied in aisle, his nose touched one wall and his hind end touched the other.
                - Tack - I had a very hard time finding used tack or borrowing tack to try because nothing fit. Not many people have spare 6.5" bits that you can try! Basically everything I bought that horse had to be brand new.
                - Feed - he ate A LOT. It takes a lot of calories to maintain that muscle mass. Free choice was about the only way to keep his weight at a good place.
                - Intimidation factor - his size scared people and he knew it. He came to me with bad ground manners (which I did improve) but with people who weren't as assertive, he was not afraid to push them around.

                Things I did love:
                - The insane amount of strength and power he had. Plus sitting on 17.3 makes bigger jumps look small! We did some Prelim fences at a clinic last summer and they looked puny on his back.

                My advice would be to do a very thorough vetting and do not skip xrays of front feet. If I were to buy another horse that size, I would look for one with a lighter body and one that moved lighter on the ground. I now have a TB who practically floats on the ground - you can hardly feel his trot steps. Not only is this much easier on my back, I think he will have a much better chance of long term soundness.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks! All good points! I have been thinking of the trailering issue. I have a 7 1/2" trailer but we were joking about cutting t-tops in it as his neck is incredibly long and high.