Friday, February 19, 2016

I like small horses and I cannot lie

Years ago, when I was eventing competitively, I remember galloping up to a Prelim fence and thinking "Holy sh!t, that's big!" before Cash launched us both cleanly over it. At 15.2, Cash was one of the smaller horses at most of the events we attended, and I envied riders on their big 17 hh horses. After all, a bigger horse would make the fences look smaller, right?

Then I got Saga, who was 16.2, and I discovered that with size sometimes comes a loss of maneuverability. Riding Cash was like driving a highly responsive sports car, whereas riding Saga was more like driving my F-350. Apparently, I'm more of a sports car girl.

So when I saw in Paddy's ad that he was only 15.1, I was ok with that. I mean, sure, I'm 5'8, but he's wide and takes up my leg. He's also super maneuverable, I can get on him without an extension ladder, and I never have to duck for those low-hanging tree branches.

He's also adorable, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with the "love at first sight" thing.

But then I started riding Taran, and SOME PEOPLE (ahemmeganahem) kept referring to him as a "cute little pony". Literally, a pony. I pointed out that he's actually taller than Paddy, but nope, SOME PEOPLE kept saying that he was probably 14.0 hh and adorable. Because I'm a mathematical fact-driven kind of girl, I did what any rational person would do - I sticked him.

15.1 and a smidge. TECHNICALLY NOT A PONY. 

For funsies, I also sticked his butt, since we're constantly making fun of him for being downhill. He's maaaaybe a smidge downhill, but certainly not the inch we suspected. No more excuses there!

And just in case anyone claims that I might have somehow rigged this, here's proof that I didn't.

Oh, and you know who's not anywhere close to being 15.1? A certain Haffie.


Uhm. Almost actually a pony?

50 comments:

  1. I'm glad you posted this. We are buying a new horse and he is "only" 15.3 h. And I'm 5'8" and so is my daughter, who is still growing. I've been a bit concerned about the height thing. But you make some great points. And he is drafty since he is half Clydesdale so he takes up leg. But horse people love to give their 2 cents and I'm sure at some point we'll hear, "why didn't you get something bigger?" My response will be I already have the 17h fancy horse and he's a pain in the ass. We didn't need another one of those. I'll go with short,wide, sturdy and SANE any day. Yay for tall people on short horses!

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    1. Pffft, 15.3 is plenty big! And a half drafty should take up loads of leg. He sounds like an awesome guy!

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  2. Agreed! I love a handy horse and since I am only 5'1", Harley is perfect for me at 15.1 hands. Small but definitely in horse territory. I used to lesson on tall dressage horses, but then my trainer got a 14.1 haflinger (named Harry) and I saw the light! He wasn't nearly as maneuverable as Harley though. I guess Harley is more of a sport bike. ;)

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    1. Hahaha, I think we're all converts after a Haffie!

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  3. I'm 5'10 and my late 15.3 TB was my absolute favorite ride. Like you said, so maneuverable and catty unlike the lumbering beast I'm acquainted with now. I do, however, really, really, REALLY love coming up to giant fences (well, you know, back in the day) and being on a giant horse. I have mad respect for people that jump ponies!

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    1. I'm quite sure there are larger horses who are light on their feet, but the littler ones are just so catty, as you say. But, looking down at fences... yeah. There are pluses and minuses to both!

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  4. I need to use an actual stick to measure Penn. His breeder eyeballed him at 16.2 (ahem, how can someone who is a vet be THAT wrong?). When he got to the sale barn, the agent called me and said, "I'm so sorry. We just sticked him at 15.3. Did you still want to see him?" Of course I still went, and we know he came home with me. My vet measured him at 15.1 with a tape. I must find a stick like yours and remeasure him. And his rump!

    Speaking of things driving like a truck, Trainer has a student who is 6'+ tall who has a 18hh oldenburg. He is like driving a mack truck! It's definitely a maneuverability trade off. I'm looking forward to seeing how my downsizing from 16.2 to 15 something goes!

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    1. Hahaha... I wonder what size Penn will actually be? Do tell!

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  5. Smaller is absolutely better! More maneuverable, more fun, easier to manage all the body parts (i.e. I don't feel like I'm driving a bus) and you stand a lesser chance of being clotheslined on trail rides. You just CAN'T LOSE with a pony! I mean, except when you're rocking on up to a big scary XC fence that seems to be bigger than your 14.1hh steed... that's a little horrifying and a time at which I definitely wish I had a taller horse!

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    1. The only time I don't like the pony thing is when they are actually being PONIES. Because pony is a four-letter word and all.

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  6. I really need to get a stick to measure mine. My guy is somewhere around 14.3, he's a stocky QH. I love his size, but for whatever reason, if I'm going to have a short horse, it HAS to be wide. I feel so weird on narrow horses.

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    1. Yeah, wide is required to take up leg.

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  7. I agree! 5'9" here and Tris is 15.1 if he stands up very tall and is wearing shoes. I much prefer solid but shorter.

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    1. I'm sure that fluff adds another inch or two... ;)

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  8. This, all day long! I'm 5'6" and Nibbles is 15.2. I feel like we are perfectly matched. I started on Arabs so I got used to the "sportscar" feel right away and have a really hard time on something that isn't agile/easy to maneuver. I've leased and ridden bigger: my comfort zone tops out at 16.1. Anything larger and I feel like I'm on a tank. :D
    Rebecca (backinthetack.wordpress.com)

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    1. Heh... and many people won't even start looking at horses that are under 16.2!

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  9. Taran is TOTALLY a pony, what is it about him that makes him look so tiny and cute?

    My next horse is going to be little for sure. I just can't have anything wide because of my hip/SI issues so it makes it tricky to find something that takes up leg. I think I'm going to decide that I don't care what we look like though!

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    1. Welsh cob! Mine feels wide until I get on a real horse then I realise 14:2 and wide is only as wide as 15:2 and normal....winning. That being said I still like saddles with a wide seat but a narrow twist otherwise sore hips.

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    2. @Megan, It can't be Taran's ears that make him look so tiny, since they're like twice the size of Paddy's ears. Because Paddy has the most adorable earz ever.

      You need a fjord as your next horse, because it's the only thing that might be cuter than a Haffie.

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    3. My friend has a dressage fjord! We hauled together for a clinic this weekend. She is the cutest thing ever, her forelock is just so much floof!

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    4. Note to self: add fjord to herd.

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  10. I actually wish Riley was smaller! He's only 16hh but he's built like a TANK! Luckily he rides like a big pony so it's the best of both worlds! ps. I love all your cute ponies!

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    1. Riley sure does look bigger than 16hh!

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  11. I've been riding 16.2+ for years and now Dee is only 15.2. I love it. I have no need for a taller horse. I also like my little sports car.

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  12. The sale ad for Kachina said 16.1hh and I almost didn't go see her because I thought that was too tall! Luckily I did go see her and she was only actually 15.2hh. My reason for wanting a shorter horse is very practical: I want to be able to trail ride, and if I have to dismount for some reason I have to be able to get back up in the bald prairie with nothing to stand on. For my 5'3" frame, anything over 16hh is a no go for mounting from the ground.
    Short horses are also so much easier for throwing the saddle on ;)
    Glad you're enjoying your short horses!

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    1. Yup! I love my 15.3hh boy. At 5'3" as well, he's the perfect height for me!

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    2. Yeah, there's nothing quite like trying to climb aboard a Brego without a mounting block. Luckily he's a patient kind of guy!

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    3. At 17hh I'm super impressed that you can mount from the ground at all! Your hubby mounting Brego with all that armour must be quite the ordeal as well!

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    4. I only get on B from the ground under dire circumstances. And if hubby's getting on in armor, we find the tallest mounting block we can. No need to stress Brego's back!

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  13. i've always felt more comfortable on a bigger horse for jumping, mostly bc the jump looks smaller and i can be a nervous rider... but then again i love riding my little sports car super mare so... maybe the trade off is worth it lol

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    1. Bigger horses totally make the jumps look smaller. Oh WAIT! I don't jump any more, so it doesn't matter, lol!

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  14. You do have the cutest little horses. :-) I grew up on a 15.2 (with shoes on a tall day before a trim) ottb mare and she was the definition of a sports car. Also insane. Cuna was huge, more like riding the titanic. He could turn but you had to plan REALLY far in advance.

    I'm liking the 16.1 range (Courage).

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    1. SEE MEGAN? They are actually LITTLE HORSES, like Aimee says. SO THERE.

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  15. I'm 6 feet tall and my 15.3hh mare is a nice size for me! All depends on the build of the horse. :)

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    1. So true! Wider is definitely required if you're tall and ride a shorter horse.

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  16. Is "sticked his butt" some equestrian jargon? (Sorry)

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    1. Measured his butt at the highest point. Usually measuring a horse is referred to as "sticking" him, and it's done at the withers to determine a horse's height.

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  17. Smaller horses just have some sort of fire already burning inside them ya know. Can't quite name it but I know the feeling.

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    1. You might be right. The bigger ones seem more complacent somehow.

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  18. Taran does have quite a prominent whither, so that could be another reason he might 'ride' smaller? (his actual back is lower) Go the little horses! :D

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    1. He's also not nearly as wide, so that could be it too. Little horses unite!

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  19. Starman was 15.1 and people called him a pony too. Jackson is 15.3 and I really like that height the most. Tex and Lucy at 16h are taller than I like -- which is funny since most dressage people I know like their horses to be at least 16.1.

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    1. We actually call all of ours "ponies" - even Brego, who measures just shy of 17 hh.

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  20. Can't lie, I kind of want one of those sticks to play with for a day.

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    1. I'm not even sure where ours came from...

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  21. WHAT? You're saying I can get a not-quite a pony and not look like a giant? The future is bright

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    1. As long as he's approximately the same height and width you should be fine!

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