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Training/Competing a Big Horse.... EEP!!

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  • Training/Competing a Big Horse.... EEP!!

    So I was grooming my 4 yo ISH/Trak filly after I rode this afternoon.... and I noticed I had to reach awfully high to get behind her withers. I would have sworn she was the same size as my Hanoverian mare (16.2) when I got her in June, just beefier. So I went and got the tape and measured her. _17.1_ Is she trying to grow into her 8" long ears (NOT KIDDING)??? How much more might a 4 yo grow????

    Now, I'm 5'4" and 128 lbs, so 16h is QUITE fine, I honestly thought 16.2h was a little excessive!! So now I've got this Behemoth.....! She is about to go up to a size 3 shoe and I would not even want to guess how much she weighs.... she is SUBSTANTIAL. She's quite nice on the flat (my initial thought after measuring was "hey, I could sell her as a dressage horse......), a bit doofy o/f but always goes and gets over, rarely has a rail (Ive jumped her 3'3" twice just to see how she felt, nothing to it), just a little "galumphy". (My other young event horse is a 15.2h chestnut TB mare.... its like going from a maserati to a sherman tank.... haha). Anyone else have a baby huey event horse?? How big was Biko?? Suggestions, things to look out for?? Commiseration?? :-)

    Third Charm Event Team

  • #2
    Things to look out for: Those big bahemoth feet coming dangerously close to yours!! ouchie!


    • #3
      I'm 5'4, 115 lbs and my guy is 17h and a tank. My biggest struggle with his size is keeping him together while jumping. All our problems stem from when we are mid course and I've let him get strung out and I can't regain our "togetherness" without major major work on my part. Not all big horses are like that though. Mine is just extroardinarily lazy.

      But he's also a super huge SUCK I love him.


      • #4
        we have a ish/trak filly in our barn too.. i haven't measured her ears.. but they are super long as well.. we call her ms. moose because of her size..


        • #5
          I clicked on your post because my boy is only 3 and already 17.2! My retired eventer is 17hh and looks tiny next to the baby.

          I'm 6' though so we are a nice match size wise. Also when I first tried him I was stunned by how nimble and balanced he felt. No big horse 'galumph' to him.

          He is a bit lazy... I wonder if this is a big horse 'feature'.

          Your mare sounds lovely though. Pics?
          Loved. Thankful. Blessed.


          • #6
            Good luck ! They don't stop growing till they're about 7 or 9 !

            I use to ride an 8yo, who has just stopped on 17hh. THANKFULLY ! He was expected to get much bigger. He's a jerk on the flat, but jumping - wow ! It's like riding a steam train !


            • #7
              I have not sticked my TB, but he is over 17 hands and is a tank. Dressage can be a challenge trying to fit that huge body in that little tiny ring and keep the energy up. Stadium is our weakest area because it is easy for him to get strung out and if I don't fix it, rails will come down (he, too, is a bit lazy). But, the nice thing about being on something so big is the jump looks so much smaller .


              • #8
                My old eventer was an 18hh TB with 8" cannons in front and 10" behind. He wore a size 3 shoe and weighed in at 1600# when he was 3 day fit. He was tight in an 87" blanket and wore a 56" girth on the first and second holes of my billets. I started him u/s when I was 13 and about 5'5... I'm now 5'9 and had him until he was 16 when I placed him with a kid to pack her around.
                The hardest thing with him was that he wasn't actual mature until he was atleast 7 or 8. He was always tripping on himself and very clumsy, although he was perfectly put together. He just never knew where his body was. It wasn't until he was 11 or 12 that I rode with a dressage trainer who helped me learn how to deal with his enormous hind end, which catapulted our jumper and event career. The best advice I could give to someone with a large horse is take it slow. There's no hurry and if you feel rushed, she'll end up injured which is what happened to my horse because the Area YR coach wanted him to be going prelim as a 6 year old--blasphome! We wound up out of competition and riding for two years as a result of the injury, but it was the best for him mentally. Hack and enjoy her, but take it nice and slow. She'll tell you when she's ready for more. Good luck!
                Keep your feet on the ground, but always look to the stars!


                • #9
                  Ditto what tbeventer said. I got my part draft guy at age 5, and he is 17.2. Apparently he was that tall at age 4 , but at least he hasn't gotten any taller. I also noticed at that age that he really didn't know where all his parts were yet. He is 7 now and seems better with his body awareness, and it seems like we just need to gradually work him up to being able to use the giant butt God gave him .

                  It's funny that you use the term "galumphy". My horse's previous owner said with her one of his nicknames was "The Galumphus" .


                  • #10
                    when my big (17.2) guy would be going well, he was light and i could do anything with him! we could turn on a dime and jump anything! but if he wasnt, look out! we crashed through things (stadium), and i would be lucky to make a 20 m circle! dressage way key with my big guy


                    • #11
                      honey, welcome to my world! The two horses in my sig line (17h and 17.2) are my SMALLER horses - -I used to have a 17.3 ID cross.

                      Double ditto what everyone else says about time. My young horse was definitely still growing through his 6 year old year and I THINK he was still growing into 7. Certainly the few months right after he turned 7 I felt like he was sorting out his body parts -- and then suddenly this fall he has grown into himself and his jumping and his self carriage in dressage have dramatically improved.
                      So Take It Slow!!!

                      All you people with size 3 shoes. You think that's big? Mine are size 4s and my dearly departed irish horse was a 5.

                      Carry spares to shows. Many farriers do not stock these shoes at shows. Davis XL bell boots are your friend. No, most jumping boots do NOT fit.

                      What you are NOT doomed to is heavy or strung out. Neither of my guys is like that and they are both catty and light on their feet. But they are BIG and when they DO decide to drag me around (not usually in a speed way, but a balance way), I'm pretty much toast in a snaffle up there at 120 lbs. They don't need MUCH but they do need something to help them pick their big selves up and carry themselves. Teach them that and they can do anything!

                      And the fences do TOO look smaller from up there
                      The big man -- my lost prince

                      The little brother, now my main man


                      • #12
                        My guy is 5 years old and just a hair under 17.1...but he isn't a heavy horse...mostly legs. Doesn't feel tank like to ride at all...and isn't a really wide horse. He looks like the old style steeplechase TBs even though he is half Dutch. For him...he is very balanced and light on his feet and can walk over 3'6". Biggest issue with him has been getting control over his legs. Some times it would feel like there is an extended delay to get the impulse from his brain to reach his legs We've been taking it slowly him.

                        When I first started him...he had a 15'+ canter stride...and given the choice, he would just leave the ground when jumping....he did jump a few bounces like oxers (a bit too easily too)....and jumped fences including the 9' placing/landing poles but usually didn't do it more than once. It was something we took a lot of steps to discourage. He is very sensititve...if you tipped your shoulders he woud leave the ground and forget adding leg at the base of the fence unless you want to end up in the next county. Not wild....just too scopey for his own good! On the flat...he would think it was fun to just fling his feet around like a fancy boy. So we really have worked on getting him to control where his legs are......adding to the base of the fence (very hard when they are super brave too)...just jumping around the fence not overjumping....and just taking our time.

                        He has only grown about 1 inch between his 4th and 5th year. He is starting to fill out...and suppose he could grow a little more but I don't think so.

                        I'd be careful...if your goals are Advanced and they are tall/big...you really need them to be light on their feet and very very ridable.
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                        • Original Poster

                          She's pretty light on her feet and very balanced for four, just takes a while for the forward impulse to get from the brain to the legs.... :-)

                          Third Charm Event Team


                          • #14
                            I have found with the big horses you must be very careful with the push push pushing with your leg. You must ask them to go forward and then make them do it. Otherwise they become quite numb to your leg and can be a nightmare to move around when they feel lazy.


                            • #15
                              My trainer has a Windfall baby that is 2 years old (well, 2 plus a few months) and is 17.1 at the withers and probably 17.2 or 3 at the butt. We're hoping he's just an early bloomer and will stop very, very soon! The good news is he's super sweet and quiet!


                              • #16
                                My daughter's Hanovarian is a solid 18 (last sticked him last year) and I'll tell ya - that short dressage arena looks mighty small when he comes in! Took some major adjustment on her part as her mare is 16.0.