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Who's had a "big" horse (ie 17+hands)?

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  • Who's had a "big" horse (ie 17+hands)?

    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.

  • #2
    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


    • #3
      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! 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.
      Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
      Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
      Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
      Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


      • #4
        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.


        • #5
          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.
          "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


          • #6
            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


            • #7
              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
              Please visit the Donate page!



              • #8
                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.
                Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                • #9
                  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.


                  • #10
                    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.
                    CLIPclop Bodyclipping by Morgan
                    Serving North GA with high quality clips.
                    --> Just Press Start // '99 Oldenburg
                    --> Always The Optimist (reg. Simply Stylin) // '02 Thoroughbred


                    • #11
                      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

                      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

                      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!


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                        • #13
                          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.
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14
                            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!
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                            • #15
                              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!
                              RIP Spider Murphy 4/20/02 - 10/31/10


                              • #16
                                I have a big horse, 17'2.
                                I found that Scheineders (sstack.com) has nice 87+ sized blankets that fit the biggies. Decent price.


                                • #17
                                  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.


                                  • #18
                                    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!
                                    Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                                    • #19
                                      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 .

                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        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
                                        Live in the sunshine.
                                        Swim in the sea.
                                        Drink the wild air.