When your horse is too short


My first horse, Bogie, was only about 15.3. At the withers. On a good day, when he hadn’t been shod for awhile. I used to joke that I needed roller skates to ride him, because I’m nearly 6′ tall and have long legs. This fellow has me beat.

During the time I had Bogie, I had the pleasure of taking dressage lessons from Dr. Max Gaywhyler, a well-known judge and clinician. I’ll always remember my first lesson with him when I was petrified that 1) I didn’t ride well enough and 2) that he’d tell me my horse was too small. But Dr. Max was always one to leave you with a smile. He cheerfully pointed out that most women rode horses way too large for them and that being able to mount from the ground was a big advantage. After all, he said, you are only going to be using your legs from the knee up.

So here’s to all those riders with horses that might technically be a bit on the short side. What about you? Do you ride a horse that’s way too large? or a bit vertically challenged?

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One thought on “When your horse is too short

  1. My Arab, Jordan, was 14.3. Legally, he was a horse…but just barely. I am 5″8 and so, technically, he was ”too short” for me.But I found out that a short horse is just as capable as a tall one. There were systemic biases, though. For instance, the companies that make horse blankets don’t make them for short horses. They end their ‘pony blankets” at size 64 and they start their horse blankets at 72. Jordan took a 68. When I FINALLY found a blanket (from Dover) it was only because of luck. I called, desperate for a blanket that might fit him, and talked to a wonderful woman at Dover who sold me their one and only 68″ blanket. I think I remember her saying it had been gathering dust in their warehouse and they’d been about to get rid of it, so I got it for a very good price. It broke my heart to sell it, even after I had to have Jordan put down.
    Or, for instance, bridles. Especially for an Arabian, companies don’t make bridles that fit small horses. Pony bridles are too small. “Cob” is meaningless. Cob bridles don’t fit Arabians. I learned from a friend to take a horse sized headstall and change the cheeks to pony cheeks. Only then did it fit him.
    There is a plus side to having a short horse. Until my latest fall, I always rode bareback. I learned from experience that it’s far easier to remount a bareback 14.3 horse when you’re out in the trails without a mounting block than it is to try the same thing on a big horse. And when you DO fall off a 14.3 horse, it’s not so far to the ground as it is from one that’s 16.2
    Not to say I don’t love Raven’s height. He’s 16.2 and we fit perfectly. I wouldn’t want to ride anything much bigger. But anyone who thinks a short horse just isn’t enough horse is mistaken.

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