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Are horse buyers "Heightists?"

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  • #21
    Not that it's any skin off my nose, but I do wish people were more aware with what is proportionate to their body type. These midgets on huge horses sometimes look absolutely ridiculous.

    When I was shopping this summer, my BFF made a good point that buying a huge horse (the first I tried was a 17.3 5 year old TB) means new EVERYTHING - I'd have to get a bigger trailer, a bigger bridle, bigger blankets, bigger boots, bigger bits, everything.

    I wound up buying a horse who sticked LARGER than advertised, and she's almost 'only' 16'2. I'm 5'8" and my other horse... she's a 15.2 redhead OTTB. Luckily she's not for sale.


    • #22
      I dont get it either....I'm the opposite as I have always felt more comfortable on smaller horses. My QH was 15.2 on a good day; my TB was 15.3ish. My current lease horse is 15.1ish. I have short legs so I want to feel like I can properly wrap my legs around a horse. I tried a 17.0 TB gelding for lease and felt too high up!

      I guess the difference between me and most of you is I'm really not that bothered about competing and do not see jumping courses higher than 2'6 in my future anytime soon, so therefore am not really concerned about making the distances.
      "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
      "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


      • #23
        During the shopping process for my last resale horse I started using 16.1 hh as a minimum height (using Equine.com, BigEq etc) after going to view multiple horses advertised as 16+hh and seeing a 15 maybe 15.1hh horse. As many people previously said, I too would rather have a talented 15.1 horse than an average taller horse, however, I think many people today think bigger is better.
        They Neigh, I Pay
        I Should Have Been A House Wife


        • #24
          If I were looking, I'd ONLY look between 14 and 16 hands. That's the range I'm comfortable with. I've owned a 17 h TB and I felt like the arena walls were closing in on me... My 15.3 h TB and 14 h GRP are so comfortable! I'd go smaller, but I'm 5'6" and mostly legs

          The dumbest excuse I've heard for someone wanting a giant horse (He preferred 17+h) was that he "wanted something that could trot the 3'-3'6" rails if need be". Uhhhh I think my pony can do that, and definitely my TB can...
          Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


          • #25
            I am so the opposite (disclaimer: I haven't shown in years and aspire to event)... my only complaint about my one mare, Mia, is that she was a very big 16.1. My other mare is 15.3 and I love it... she is really as big as I would prefer to go, I am only 4'10 with short legs! On the other hand when I look at a mare I try to see possible broodmare potential someday... so much under 15.2 might make me a bit nervous since those foals would be sold to the 16 hand plus crowd. But in the end I wouldn't turn away from 15.1 or 15 hands if I liked her.


            • #26
              People are definitely heightists. Most people want tall. Some want shorter. In the end, I think it's not so bad for folks looking in the 14.3-15.3 range - a good opportunity for buyers, bad luck for the sellers!

              I'm a chunky monkey and wanted big (as in 16.1-3) and ended up with a leggy 17.1 (she didn't get the memo about not growing from 17). The ground is not close... Forced me to learn to sit better!! If I didn't love her, I'd say she's too tall. But she totes my butt around like I'm tiny!!
              Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


              • #27
                I'm 5' 3" and small, I've ridden horses past 17 hands and they are just too big.

                My retired horse is 16.1 (sticked) and he's enormous. 82inch blanket, 56inch girth. I always felt comfortable on him but it wasn't until I started riding horses that were smaller that I realized I prefered them.

                I can actually see the dirt on the top of their butt!

                My next horse was 15.1 and my current horse is 14.2 and 1/2, I fear that a few horses down the road my feet are going to touch the ground from the saddle!

                My "pony" doesn't feel like a pony at all when we're jumping, and I'm an eventer so while there is some "everyone who events must own a bay OTTB of at least 16 hands" there is plenty of variety and as long as it makes it over the fences nobody cares.


                • #28
                  I don't know whether it's as much the horse's height = ability as much as it is horse's height = proportion. I dwarf most anything under 16.2 that isn't big-boned enough to make things look a bit more proportionate, so naturally, most horses I looked at had to fall under the 16.2 + category. In fact, my current horse is over 16.3, and I make him look like he's about 15.2. In situations like that, yes, height matters, and in my opinion, it should.


                  • #29
                    Sometimes I think it's just personal preference. I am totally a "heightist" and a sexist. But, before you guys flame me, hear me out. I love my horse now. He is a gelding and he is 16.2 +. I can't say that I bought him for either of those reasons, but it is now what I like. I like his size and his proportionality and I am able to keep him together. So, from my personal experience, I would only look for something akin to what I already have.

                    Generally speaking, I will not look at an ad on CANTER or any other website if it is a mare or if it is under 16.0 hands. I could see myself going bigger than what I currently have, but certainly not smaller than 16.0 hands unless it was a real looker! Now, if I see a picture that has major chrome, then I will open it regardless of sex or height.

                    With all that said, I am not in the market for another horse, so my opinion doesn't really matter. But, I just wanted to add that people usually stick with what they know until they have to try something else or just happen to fall in love with something new. To continue the car analogy from earlier - If you like your current car, chances are that you would buy that same car again unless your circumstances change (i.e.: have a young family and need an SUV or a minivan now).
                    "The Prince" aka Front Row
                    Cavalier Manor


                    • #30
                      As a breeder, my experience has been that, yes, people are very concerned about height. It's almost always one of the first questions people will ask about a foal. Although sometimes I want to say "Hold on while I go get my crystal ball," I can understand that the question is part of the market. Dressage shoppers want over 16hh (definitely) and, ideally, 16.2+. Hunter riders seem more at ease with something 16hh or a little under, but I hear 16.2 from them as well.

                      To my mind, if people feel more comfortable on a larger horse, it's their right to shop for one. It's unfortunate they are so willing to overlook good horses who are smaller, but it's definitely part of my breeding goal to aim for 16.2. I just sold a yearling who will likely hit 17hh. Her height was a big factor for her owner, who just feels more comfortable on a substantial horse.
                      Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                      Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
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                      • #31
                        If I ever go horse shopping I'd like to keep it under or around 16hh. I'm small and light and don't being so far from the ground!! My once in a lifetime was about 15.2, but he was very slight with big withers so he looked not much bigger than a pony if you saw him in the field. He was amazing and could make all the lines in the 1.0 and 1.10, but I'm sure he would have sold for a lot more had he been over 16hh or a stocky WB type. People see big as safer in the jumpers: easier to make the lines, faster and jump higher. Are the correct? I don't think so, but I haven't gotten much experience with the bigger types


                        • #32
                          First - I'm 5/4" on a good day. My older dressage horse is 16'3", and about as long as one of those boats someone mentioned in an earlier post. He was bigger than I really wanted, but he was so well trained and so kind and so sound that there was really no decision. After I semi-retired him, I bought a mare who is 16'2" and compact. She feels much smaller than a 1" difference, but it is mostly the way she is built.
                          When I was shopping my real size concern did not have a number but it had to be one I could keep in a collected package. That was not likely to be a WB over 17 hands, and it almost was a Trakehner mare that wasnt quite 16 hands, elegant gaits and like a sports car, but she didn't vet so well. Not being a spring chicken, I'm more and more enamored w/ small.
                          We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                          • #33
                            I think of horse height like the age of people you date. Who cares what the numbers are as long as things work and everybody is happy?

                            On the other hand, I do understand why 16hh or 16:2hh seems like a "magic" number in the horse world. I think a horse of that size is an easier sell because a wide range of people can ride it. The shorter folks can probably still do ok and taller people, i.e. 5'10-6'+ can probably also ride horses in that range.

                            There are numerous examples of very talented smaller horses, Marion Mould's "Stroller", KOC's Teddy O'Connor, and I think Beezie Madden has a smaller mare that she competes at GP.


                            • #34
                              I used to be all about the bigger horses, despite the fact that I am 5'6" and my build is such that I fit nearly everything that I sit on, from large ponies to huge horses. I almost didn't even look at my current horse because he was only 15.2 as a three year old (TB). He has since grown, but I haven't even bothered to measure him. My guess is that he is probably 16 hands.

                              My perspective on horse size has changed a bit now. His size is pretty perfect, and he wears a 78 blanket, which saves me money. Looking back, most of the really special horses in my life have been smaller (including a wicked good-jumping 15.1 QH). I also think smaller horses often have a better chance of staying sound, assuming they are put together well.


                              • #35
                                By the way, a lot of those CANTER horses are young and still have a lot of growing to do!


                                • #36
                                  I will say that going to the big jumps on a big horse does give a little more sense of security, even if it is a false sense of security. I've jumped 4 ft on the 15.1 QH I mentioned, as well as on an 18 hand WB. While the QH was really the better jumper, there was always a moment of suspended disbelief when we approached the jump. The 18 hand horse made the jumps look more reasonable.


                                  • #37
                                    Interesting that Harry Chamberlin somewhere in one of his many writings , stated that the ideal horse was 15.3 to 16H.

                                    That horses of that size would be more likely to stay sound under the hard work required of a cavalry horse.

                                    Photos he used in his books to illustrate various topics were almost always of horses in that range, judging by the size of the horse in relation to the rider.

                                    Yet he also had many photos of horses jumping things that only today's most crazed eventer would jump.

                                    Even knowing that for some 60 or 70 years, I admit to preferring a horse 16.3H, give or take a little.

                                    I just feel more comfortable on a horse with that stride and movement.

                                    I also admit that I feel more comfortable looking at a mile long neck in front of me. I hate to jump a fence feeling that my head is in front of the horse's.

                                    That said, I foxhunt only. And getting too old to do as much of that as I want.

                                    My point is only to point out that one of the greatest horsemen of the century preferred horses 16H or less for their combination of durability and ability, and that was in the day when many horses worked all day long.


                                    • #38
                                      I'm 5'6", and oddly proportioned... ALL leg, short torso, and even in my younger, thinner days where you could count all my ribs, I never looked "skinny". I look outright stupid on most horses under 15-3.

                                      I lost my good ASB gelding to colic three weeks ago, and my friend has been generous with her horses, so I have two beautiful quality 3yo Paint mares to ride who are in the lower 15hh range. It. Looks. Ridiculous. There just isn't enough horse there to make a decent picture.
                                      I ride a friesian who is on the small side (haven't measured her but I would guess 15-2 because I can still mount her from the ground if I have to), but it sort of works ok (not the greatest picture) because she has an enormously well sprung barrel that takes up my leg and is pretty big strided.
                                      I can hop on some smaller stuff and technically ride it well, but it looks and feels ridiculous at best.


                                      • #39
                                        People are heightists...and many sellers are fibbists.

                                        Although to be fair...a lot of the fibbists are really tapists with screwed up eyes. Tape a horse for height instead of using a stick and also have been told every 15.2 hh horse they've ever seen was 16.1.

                                        I wondered why all advertised horses were 16-17.2hh when I first got back into horses a while back. We had bought a solid 17hh mare on a whim...(you can't pick who you fall in love with, LOL, I MUCH prefer short) and when I started boarding her everyone argued with me that she HAD to be at least 18hh because she was so much taller than their 16-17hh horses. A while later we were at a tack shop that had a clearance sale and they had a stick...metal with levelling bubbles for next to nothing so bought that for fun. Lost a lot of friendships with that thing! Everyone wanted to stick their horses, not a *single* one sticked at the height they thought their horses were. One woman burst into tears and put her horse up for sale, because her 15.3hh horse was too small for her. He was just fine for 3 years before that when she thought he was 16.2. (she ended up keeping him)

                                        And the making the strides thing? It's an odd 15.2 hh horse that can't make the strides. Unless it's built like a giant corgi. That's just an excuse. 12' stride in hunters...move the horse out and lengthen the stride (not the speed) instead of sitting there like a lump. Horse is supposed to flow smoothly, not mince steps at a crawling pace.

                                        I know, I know....the thumbs down icon is right there__l
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!


                                        • #40
                                          I don’t know. Being an amateur hunter re-rider who is getting older, but trying to jump bigger jumps than I did when I was younger, I want a horse that is going to feel solid under me and more than comfortable doing the job I ask it to do. As cssutton said, I like knowing I have a bit of horse in front and behind me, and have something to wrap my longer legs around so if something goes wrong there is a little more real estate to help me recover. With smaller, slighter horses, I feel like I have to be too aware of what my body is doing so I don’t impact their jump or stride negatively, which impacts my confidence as a rider.

                                          I also think when you are on a taller horse looking down on a “big” jump with a stride that feels “slow” and easy, it makes it easier to make that leap of faith to move up to a bigger jump. If you are on a smaller horse with a quicker stride looking at or up to the jumps, it can be a bit intimidating. Plus, I think the margin of error on a smaller horse is that much smaller. On the flip side, that bigger horse can be a bit intimidating when it misbehaves – the ground is a long way away!

                                          From a hunter prospective, you want a horse that is not just going to have the stride to make it down the lines, but make it down the lines in a manner that is not rushed. While a smaller horse may be able to make it down the lines, its stride may be much quicker than its 16 or 17-hand counter part, which is not as aesthetically pleasing and deducts points from the overall score.

                                          If you are a buyer looking through hundreds of ads for horses of all sizes, you are going to try to pare the prospects down to those that you think are going to be best able to meet your needs so you don’t waste your time or that of the sellers looking at something for which the odds are that it will not meet the hunter standard. If the small horse has a proven record and video proof of it performing up to the standard at a horse show, I think people would be willing to look at it and pay for it. If it is unproven? It will be much harder to even get people out to look at it.

                                          That being said, when I was looking for a horse, I really didn’t have a height preference, per se. Given my build, I think I look best on horses 15.3 to 16.3 of moderate build, leaning toward chunky (because I am average height, leaning toward chunky). I don’t think anything smaller than 15.2 would work for me. I did try a few horses over 16.3, but I really didn’t need anything that big. The horse I ended up with is about 16-16.1-ish. I think I fit well on him; he is athletic enough to do what I want, he is sturdy enough to put up with my amateur insecurities, and hopefully sturdy enough to stay sound.