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Are horse buyers "Heightists?"

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  • Are horse buyers "Heightists?"

    I laugh about this but I wanted to see what the opinion du jour is of this phenomenon.

    When I look around the Canter sites lately I see a lot of the 15h-15.3 hand horses sitting. The mares and cribbers over 16 hands seem to go a bit faster.

    And then when I look around the various Horses for Sale groups that I am a member of on Facebook, same phenomenon. 15-15.3 sitting, 16 and up going.

    So I wondered are we still fixated on 16 hands being the "magic" height wherin the buyers will flood the gates and the poor horses that are an inch shorter are gonna sit and wait for someone who will appreciate them despite the fact that their withers don't stretch up.

    I mean seriously???

    This is an inch. (And yes I measured it)


    Are those of you who refuse to look at anything under 16 hands really saying that something this ^ much smaller couldn't possibly do what a horse that's 16 hands can?

    Or is it just for the stigma of whomever long ago decided that 16 hands was the break out of quality versus "less likely to succeed?"

    Does anyone even know when this started? I don't but I remember that 16 hands was where to start at for a horse for an adult. Not even sure at what age I was told this, it was just presented as fact.

    I am nearly 5'9 and one of my best horses was a 15.1 hand mare. Chestnut at that.

    I guess I am just wondering if this kind of bias still exists, and if any out there among us would defend the position or deny it?

    Full disclosure I have a 16.1 horse and a 15.3 horse. Both can handle 4' plus and I don't have a problem with the sub 16h crowd.

    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

  • #2
    Yes height sells. If the smaller horse 15-15.3 can make the stride and you fit them they to will sell it just takes longer because there are more people looking for bigger horses. For resale purpose this trend is generally followed. Its not that smaller horses that are for sale "are lesser quality" but its just what the general buyer is looking at most occasions. If you looking at an suv your not likely to even consider a mini cooper...
    I want to be like Barbie because that bitch has everything!


    • #3
      I had a 16.1 horse for sale a few years ago, got a call from an agent that thought horse would be a good match for clients...except that he needed to be 16.2, Reallly? They also wanted me to haul the horse to agents farm to try, horse already had shoes and I couldnt magically make him an inch taller so I passed.

      It just wasnt worth my time that day to deal with someone so closed minded.


      • #4
        I would say yes! There is an A barn around here that is pretty proud of having children on horses 17-18hds! Now I'm the opposite. Being 4'11" I've ridden a 17+ hand horse and it wasn't any fun. (Big shoulderd tb, very front heavy) He was just to big for me to get packaged. My old man is maybe 15.1, the mare that I just found a home for was 15.3/16. And that felt tall! So when I was shopping I was looking for something between the two preferably, but I was willing to try bigger if it seemed like it could be the right horse. But I didn't really want to get over 16.2hd. My new boy is probably 15.3ish, haven't sticked him though. But he is coming 4 so he may grow a touch more. I didn't want to look at 14.3/15hds. (I did look at the ads and if it seemed like a nice horse it's worth a shot to take the stick and see what it actually measures at!) If I'm going to do that I might as well by a large pony. One friend kept trying to talk me into just buying a large and selling it and the small I have and THEN buying a horse. Which would be however long down the road it took to sell 2 ponies! Not what I was looking to do! It's hard enough to sell the small! Now I have another friend that thinks she needs something over 17 hands because she is a little long in the leg (but not an Amazon by any means) and I've tried to explain to her that it's not the height she needs to look at but the barrel. You can still get a slab sided 17hd horse! For me it comes down to if on paper the horse seems to meet what I need it's worth the look if its within a reasonable drive (couple hours) I won't turn down a good horse because of size or color (though I have my preferences) A good horse is a good horse!


        • #5
          Yes, but good for me, I'm 5'4"

          On a good day.

          Just bought a lovely, quiet, QH (who I suspect is an Appendix). Bay Roan, fluid gaits, wonderful personality. Advertised at 15.2, but has good withers and takes up quite a bit of leg. Beginner safe.

          Cheaper than the Canter Horses.


          • #6
            If I'm buying a proven horse, no, it doesn't matter at all. It can be 15.1 1/4" but if it can carry me down the lines without going at Mach 3, I wouldn't care.

            If I'm buying from CANTER where the horse is a completely unknown entity, I'm looking for 15.3+, preferably about 16.2. It's just better odds, both for performance and resale.


            • #7
              I'm selling a horse who is 15.3 1/2. She measures just a half inch under 16 hands. Should I advertise her at 16 hands?

              Would it bug you if you came out expecting her to be 16 hands and she was just half an inch less?

              She doesn't have any problem making distances.


              • Original Poster


                My feeling on this is simple. You advertise her honestly so you get someone who wants her as she is. You shouldn't have to "play games" to incite the right person who wants to buy your horse. Nor would I feel comfortable if I "tricked" someone into buying my horse. I love him and I want him to go to someone who feels the same about him and considers themselves lucky to have him and to have dealt with an honest seller in me.

                Anything less than this conduct, while probably more prevalent than I'd like to think about, is just not in my wheelhouse. And I am far more able to sleep at night this way.

                "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


                • #9
                  I would say if the horse is talented or proven, height doesn't matter at all. I'm speaking from a jumper perspective, so not sure about hunters, except that if the horse has the step and jump it would sell nicely as a small junior hunter. Anyway I had a 15.2 hand 7 year old 1.50m/grand prix prospect that was amazing! I'm only 5'3 so i fit him well but we were always getting offers from pros and tall men asking if we would sell him. I have another horse that just sold this past week. He is 15.3 hands and no one seemed offended by his size. He's a 1.30m winner and can beat all the big horses with his quick turns! So long story short I would say that if the horse is talented, really nice, and has proven that it has the stride and jump for its job than it doesn't matter how big it is.


                  • #10

                    Be honest and upfront about your horse's size. That says a lot about you as a person to the prospective buyer. If you mislead them about the size, they may wonder what else you are misleading them about. That said, you could advertise her as "just short of 16 hands." That would be an accurate description.

                    (Remember, too, that someone may be interested in your horse as a small junior hunter. )

                    I do remember the good old days when a 16-hand horse was a big horse.
                    I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


                    • #11
                      For the most part I'd say yes, people are. Especially when thinking about resale in the future. Personally? I'm comfortable with anything 15hh+ so long as I feel like they have the step and scope for what I want to do. I am a reformed heightist, and I think I'm getting better the older I get
                      Friend of bar.ka


                      • #12
                        I'm stretching to hit 5'2 myself so height isn't a huge deal. I've owned horses from 12.2 up to 16 hands. I personally like them around 15.2-16 hands. Easy enough for me to get on but tall enough for me to feel like I'm on a horse. I had one horse that sticked 15.1 hands at the withers advertised as such. Lady contacted me wanting to make a trade. She brought her mare out and looked at my horse one time and said, he's too short, my husband won't ride anything under 15.2 and he's maybe 14.2. But she was measuring at the lowest spot of his back(just eyeballing), not his withers and this horse was a high withered 17 year old and wasn't fit through his topline from not being worked often enough. Lady didn't even ask to ride him after making a 2 hour trip to see him. So even if he rode perfect for her, he didn't stand a chance because her husband wouldn't ride him. If I drive to look at a horse and he's not as tall as they marketed, I'm still going to ride him and see if he'll work for me


                        • #13
                          It is all so ridiculous IMHO.

                          People who buy sailboats have the same thing...two-footitis. A sailboat that is 38' long is thousands and thousands less than a 40' boat. Same with a 29'er and a 30' plus...

                          The main thing is taste in breeds, what you are going to do with the horse (what it is capable of), and suitability. I love them all, but to tell you the truth, I had a 17:3 talented gelding that was just too much horse for me. You couldn't pay me to even ride one that big now lol. On the other hand, I find 16hh the perfect size (for me)...but I would love to have a Welsh Cob (but I'm 5'10), so I've never pursued it. My smallest horse, of three, is 15hh, but broad..she's perfect too. I think I like substance more than height..hmmm. So, it is all a matter of taste..but the marketing BS is over the top these days.


                          • #14
                            I've found that I just look disproportionate on a horse less than 15.2 or so. I'm more comfortable on 16.2+, but if I was looking for myself, I wouldn't discount a horse that 15.3 or whatever, as long as it was everything else I was looking for.

                            For resale, that's a different story. There would have to be a very specific market that I knew I could get this horse sold in if I were to pick up something below 16hh.


                            • #15
                              I'm heightist, but in the opposite way. I'd prefer a horse that's 15.2 and under for my next horse (currently riding a top-of-the-line large). But I'm also an eventer who loves the small & mighty ponies. Back when I was in the HJ world, I was selling my 16.2hh mare. A friend who was 5'5" tried her out and her trainer said she was "too small" for her...
                              "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


                              • #16
                                I think so many people over estimate the height of horses that their eye becomes totally off, so they assume anything under 16 hands is a midget. A really good example is a horse that was in our barn last winter - it's a 15-hand-on-a-good day paint mare. She got moved to a new barn, where they assumed she had to be AT LEAST 16 hands because she was so much bigger than a couple of the other horses there (who must be ponies, but that's beside the point). The owner asked if I thought her horse was really that big - I pointed out my own 15.3 hand and 16 hand mares (who have been measured with sticks with levels) and asked if her horse had grown a lot since I saw it last. We both laughed.

                                Seriously though - look at what most people think is 16 hands, and it's not hard to figure out why they think they can't fit on anything smaller.


                                • #17
                                  I'm so happy that my daughter's horse is 15.1 -- few inches shorter or a few inches taller and we never would have been able to afford him!!
                                  I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.


                                  • #18
                                    I actually think 16.2/3 is that magic height everyone wants. And the assumption is being made that a youngish 16.0/16.1 OTTB has another inch or two of growth to do. It's silly, but people want what they want. So if I was buying a TB for resale, I'd buy what people want-- big, dark, bling, gelding.
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                    • #19
                                      Well, when I was looking, I was looking for 16 hands and up because I have legs a mile long and I am most comfortable on something in the 16.2 range. You know what I ended up with. I actually prefer a smaller animal if I suit it- easier to mount from the ground and I think they stay sounder than the 17hh+ behemoths. Plus, often the blankets are cheaper at size 78" and below! But it is not as easy to find a smaller model that suits my build and is also built to successfully do what I want it to do as it is to find a 16 to 16.3 model that does the same. I'm speaking of natural length of stride and scope to spare without sacrificing pace or style. A lot of the smaller models I either tried or have ridden in the past have either been too slight for me or have needed to scurry a bit to get down the lines. Nota bene that I haven't ridden a lot of smaller Warmbloods because I don't tend to care for that style of ride; my experience has been with TBs and TB crosses. (And one fantastic ISH!)
                                      "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                                      Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                                      Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                                      • #20
                                        I see so many riders on huge horses. It seems that many riders do prefer a big horse and as such we have adjusted our eye as to what is proportionate. I see plenty of riders who seem to be perched atop rather that down and around their horses.

                                        Proportion is the key. A deep barrelled horse can support a rider with a long leg. Dobby was 15.3 and I'm a long legged 5'8 and I neither felt nor looked big on him. If he were lanky, it might have been a different matter.

                                        If a horse is a Jr Hunter type, 15.3 3/4 is the perfect height. I agree that smaller horses are often easier to keep sound and can have more nimble turning ranges which is great in jumpers.
                                        F O.B
                                        Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                        Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique