Hi, I'm Ev. I'm training to become a horsewoman. These are my adventures and misadventures. I'm green as hell, but so far, so good. I'm now learning from Bo (and sometimes his wife DeDe) at D&D Ranch in Pope Valley. I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity, I feel quite blessed, and I feel that they, and horses, have really turned my life around.
Solomon is my baby- a big old flea bitten grey Appendix gelding who is very kind and way too smart! I love him so very much. He is a rescue and was meant to be co-owned rehabbed, and maybe rehomed to a good home. He turned out to be over 25 years old with injuries that ultimately do not make him riding sound, so he is retired.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"But... he's short!"

Okay, I have a tiiiiny little rant I'm going to spout off here.
I'm looking into therapeutic riding programs at the moment. Most of them have a 180 pound (or less!) weight limit. Well, I CAN see that if they have all small lightweight horses, little 800 pound arabs and the like... and I can see being hesitant to take on heavier adults since they would be harder for the humans to handle, weightwise...
But I think people also underestimate the strength of their horses. My vet, one of the most respected in the bay area, said that most normal horses can easily handle 250 pounds.
Now to my big pet peeve- people assuming that a SHORT horse is a WEAK horse... or even a light one!
Take Fjords for example.
They average around 900 to 1200 pounds. There are many who are easily heavier than that. A 1300 pound Fjord is not unusual. But they are SHORT. So people assume that they couldn't handle a larger rider.
Look, tall horses? They're a product of selective breeding. And being tall doesn't mean a horse is sturdy. They can have spindly legs. They can have long backs. They can be a heck of a lot more lightweight than a Fjord. A short, stocky, short-backed horse is going to be a lot more likely to be able to carry a heavy rider. I know that when it comes to SHOWING in certain English disciplines, a tall rider on a short horse is poo-poohed, but unless your legs are so long that they are somehow interfering with the stride of the horse, and you are just hacking around, so what?
Also, not all larger people are tall! Why would you put a 5'3" tall woman on an 18.2hh Belgian draft? That's the first horse I rode as an adult, by the way. The owner had to shove my butt up into the saddle and catch me when I needed to dismount... catch me while standing ON THE MOUNTING BLOCK. And you can get a big, heavy horse who is not build for load-bearing too.

Okay, these images do not belong to me. The first one is from worldofhorses.co.uk.

Look at that tank! Look at that strong, powerful, sturdy build! This is a horse who is much closer to the build of a true wild horse.

Now here's a photo from www.biology-blog.com.

Here's a pure thoroughbred horse. Build to race. Looong legs for a long stride. They can be like greyhounds. Is this a build that is best suited for a heavy rider? Just because they are tall?

While most horses who are healthy and sound can comfortably carry a lot more than they are given credit for, people really need to get over the "height = carrying capacity" thing. And, to a lesser extent, the "25% rule." It's a rough guideline and it does not at all take into account the build or breed of the horse. People take it as gospel (though you also see people defending 20% or 30% just as much) and it is not.

Look at the Icelandic horse. They are called "ponies" by a lot of the rest of the world, though they're horses. That's another height thing. Anyway, classic Icelandics are bred and built to tolt big adult men over lava fields.

Just... get over the height thing, people, okay?


spazfilly said...

I need the Facebook thumbs up "I like" option for this post!

BuckdOff said...

When I was coming back to riding after a rearing incident, I was put on a 14.2 pony at the lesson barn, on a lunge line..I got over my fear, fast..Embarrassment, LOL! I'm not very small, and this pony was stocky, so I didn't feel mean. But I've never ridden a pony, ever, in my adult life. So when they pointed to said pony as my designated mount, I said WHUT? I have to admit he was an awesome pony. I would buy a pony like that, in a minute, he was so nice.

Evergrey said...

Short horses are awesome! :D If I were rich Solomon would be sharing a big pasture full of Icelandics and Fjords.

IceRyder said...

I have Icelandic Horses and love 'em! It is hard to generalize, tho, to say that they can carry large riders. Some can, some can't.

>>Look at the Icelandic horse. They are called "ponies" by a lot of the rest of the world, though they're horses.<<

Just to clarify, Icelandic Horses are ponies. They have been mtDNA'd to other pony breeds:


Evergrey said...

Oh man, if I tell my Icelandic friend that, she'll blow her top!

Of course, yes, absolutely you have to go by the individual, and there's a bad trend toward breeding less stocky ones. :/

littledog said...

Even at the 25% rule (which can be even more if you are walking and trotting on trails, not galloping or jumping) a sturdy, fit 1200 lb horse of whatever height can carry 300 lbs easily!

I'm 5'10", my old appy mare was 14'3" and we did quite well in lower-level eventing. After taking my trainer's instuction to heart, that I needed to work hard on keeping my upper body as still as possible, especially jumping, so as not to throw my mare off balance.

Poneh said...

I must say, I love your blog!
I have a Norwegian Fjord, 1,000 lbs, 14.2hh, and I'm of medium height. He's great for me. My dad, a 6 feet-tall guy, can ride him without his feet dangling below. My Fjordie has no issues supporting him.
We also show in dressage, as he has beautiful collection and gaits. He beats Warmbloods and TBS frequently.
Love the post!! :D

Evergrey said...

Thank you very much! :D I really ought to update, as I'm so far behind! Not a whole lot to say at the moment, because Solly is just enjoying his retirement.