I can't contain myself. I surprisingly, haven't really ever ranted on my blog, but today I feel so compelled. It's an accumulation of reading many blogs and discovering a stereotype or perhaps a discrimination out there that runs rampant in the horse world.
WHY do people feel that there's this firm rule on what height of rider can be paired with a certain height of horse?!
I understand 2 legitimate concerns:
1) Horse carrying capacity. Horses can only carry a certain percentage of their body weight (est. 20%). Which really, has more to do with the horse's weight then height.
2) The rider's calves need to come in contact with the horse's side in order to provide proper cues (though not an absolute must, since paradressage riders have proved this point moot).
Really, the second point only really applies to the DEPTH of the horse's chest and abdomen, since long legs may add height but do not provide a surface for leg cues.
Likewise, a short legged horse with a deep girth, ridden by a tall rider, would STILL have sufficient area to apply the leg aids, and would not have the rider's legs dragging on the ground. I suppose not having your legs dragging on the ground is the third valid concern about a short horse...Really though, my experience is that unless you're 6 and a half feet tall on a legitimate pony (under 14.1hh), there's little chance your legs will be dragging.
Which means, 90% of the people out there are PERFECTLY capable of riding any horse over 14.1hh (and probably some shorter then that too).
So WHY does everyone believe that they can't?
I have read and heard, over and over "Oh, that horse is too small for me". "Rider too tall for horse", "Oh, I can only ride horses over 16hh". None of these statements are true.
I don't think, I've never heard anyone claim, I would be flabbergasted to hear, that my MoonSox is too small for me. I'm 5'9". He's 15.1hh, if that. I've happily ridden horses only 14.2hh, and my legs still fell at their abdomen.
Can I fit on a 17hh horse? For sure! My legs are long enough that I'm still making good contact. I also need a step ladder to get up there. He also thinks that 2' fences are cavalleti!
My point in this whole rant, is that the so called 'short' horses are being forgotten or passed over by people too stuck on looks or determined to meet some foolish societal 'rule' that states anyone over 5'4" must ride a horse over 15hh, anyone over 5'7" must ride a horse over 16hh, and anyone over 5'9" must be on a horse at least 17hh. Which makes me wonder what height of horse is required for those who stand over 6'? 18hh? Are we now just going to breed monster sized horses, because society deemed it so?
I can honestly say, perhaps I'm a little biased, as I do love the little horses. I love being able to leap on and off easily from the trail. I love never needing to ask for a leg-up. I love that I can mount my horse bareback in the middle of the pasture. WITHOUT standing on anything. I love that when I fall off it's a short way to the ground. I love that my horse can never keep his head out of my reach! Don't get me wrong, I love the tall guys too!
But yes, I'm biased. But I really, honestly wish people would give these guys a chance too. 15hh never used to be 'short' before all the giant warmbloods and draft crosses entered the world. Every horse, regardless of size, has something to offer its rider. Perhaps, rather then judging the horses by their height (within reason), their coloring or their breed (also within reason), we need to find the horse that's "right" for us. Because none of the rest of this stuff matters then.
And that's my rant. ; )