Aug 9, 2007

Size Doesn't Matter (Sometimes)

Okay, I can't even tell you how awesome I think it is that Karen O'Connor won gold with her 14.1hh pony, Teddy, at the PanAm Games. I could go on about the number of times that I hear that so-and-so's 16hh horse is too small to jump higher than 3' or how many times have you been told your 16.2hh horse is so small and cute. I mean, what's up with people thinking that horses have to be giants anymore. With the advent of the warmblood, all of a sudden the equestrian world decided that in order to win in dressage, eventing, hunter, suddenly had to have, at a minimum, a 17hh horse.

I don't deny that a trot extension on a huge horse can be breathtaking, but when do you ever hear someone praising the amazing collection and spring in a small horse's step. Rarely ever anymore, and it's always in relation to the bigger horse's gait. I might be overly sensitive to this having spent an inordinate amount of time in the Dressage world, where 17.3hh is virtually the norm. But when did we lose our minds?! I grew up around Arabians and love, love them. Whatever you want to say about the way they are marketed and overbred, they are fundamentally awesome animals. I rode some 15hh arab horses that were far showier and gamer than a lot of the giants. I'm not hating on warmbloods here. Hell, I own one. But I am saying that we've forgotten that size doesn't matter most of the time - I can cite plenty of small, phenomenal horses that have impressed me as much as the 17.3hh grand prix master. We seem to forget that and it's high time that we stop dismissing a horse's talent because of his size. I'd bet plenty of people I know would have ignored Teddy's talent simply because he was small. Well, you can't argue with what he's accomplished.

And I have one more thing to add on this topic. I had a lot of smaller horses in my life - Arabs, QHs, a couple of ponies, TBs - and I never saw nearly as many hoof and leg problems as I did on some of those giant WBs. Again, I know it's horse-to-horse, but there gets to be a point when you're jumping or practicing intense dressage movements where the stress exerted by the weight of those big guys is just going to break them down a little faster. I'm not being scientific, but I think it's a matter of some common sense here. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

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