What size of horse is best for my first horse?

sb10063272f-001Question: I convinced my parents to buy me a horse (yay!) and I want to know what height would be good for me. I am about 5 feet, and pretty skinny. I have been riding mostly large ponies. Is that a good height?? I have been looking at some horses and I found a cute one close by, but he’s 15.3hh, is that to big??

Answer from April Reeves: I’m not sure how old you are but 15.3 is only too tall if the horse is too much for you to handle. Many people ride exceptionally tall horses now days. At 5 feet tall, I’m not sure you should look at anything much taller than that as you may run into problems getting on when out on a trail ride. Otherwise, it’s a nice height to be able to do things with. Not too tall, not too short. And you may grow into him as you mature.

Some coaches like a person to ‘fit’ their horses. They want their rider’s legs to not extend beyond the belly line, or be more than one inch above it. While extremes do look a bit odd, I am more concerned that the horse fits your personality and is sound and safe. I only look for appropriate physical fits when the rider is going into specific disciplines such as hunter classes.

I ride a 14.2HH reining & western pleasure horse and I’m 5’ 9” tall, most of it is leg. I also ride a 17.2HH Warmblood and have a tough time getting on without a mounting block. Looking appropriate on a horse is a state of mind.

I have this itty bitty student on a 16.1HH mare who can get that horse to do everything. While longer legs do help with some aids, (such as being able to ‘lift’ a horse), if the horse has a good foundation and knows the aids well, the horse can adjust to a rider’s leg at almost any height.

When you are looking for a horse, please make sure it is safe – on the ground and under saddle, and that it has 4 good legs attached to it. Also make sure it has really good ‘stop and go’ buttons. There are so many horses to choose from right now that it’s a buyer’s market, so don’t buy the first cute one you see. Try to get a horse with papers. It gives you more options for either resale or showing.

If you would like a critique of your potential horse before you purchase it, take photos of each side, and one front and one from the back. Make sure you get the feet as I need to see pasterns and feet. I won’t be able to detect unsoundness from a photo, but I can steer you away from a potential wrong purchase. Send them to: info@horsemansu.com and I’ll get back to you pretty quick. I look at photos every day for people.

Take the time Suzanne to find an appropriate horse, anything from 14.1HH to 15.3. Just a side note: if you purchase one at 14.2HH you qualify for pony classes – just a thought for down the road.

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