Neu Perspectives

Keeping It Short

husband and wife riding horses next to each other

A small horse gets high marks in terms of practicality and convenience. Plus, they’re so darn cute.

There are so many folks in the horse world who I look up to.

Goodness, how could I not? I’m just surrounded by talent and diverse approaches to horsemanship wherever I go. Everyone who comes and rides with us or that we might work with or visit has a slightly different take on their horses and I’m constantly learning new concepts, things to avoid at all costs and little tricks and tips to help me find more success. 

But besides continually feeling inspired and humbled by the others who ride with me, what I really mean to say is that I literally look up to almost everyone horseback.

See, I recently came to terms with the fact that I ride small horses. 

This wasn’t a pattern I purposely established. A lot of the horses we start and ride are bred to work a cow, which in turn, generally means smaller-type AQHA genetics. Once in awhile (ok, maybe more often than that) a horse comes along that we have to have, and he becomes a part of our string. They just so happen to be on the short side. It’s gotten to the point that an animal that measures a true 15 hands seems huge to me. 

husband and wife riding horses next to each other in an arena
Photo by Ross Hecox

I’ll be honest, I like a little horse. And by little I don’t mean weak. I like something strong, short and athletic. Small horses get around well and I don’t have to duck down nearly as far when riding under a tree or overhang. When I reach for a stirrup my hamstrings don’t have to stretch as much, and my feet don’t go numb when I dismount on a cold day. The small horses that I’ve had have always been able to pull something around well if I rope it and have often had the stamina and grit of a bigger gelding. I like to think that they don’t eat as much as something that towers over them, and I don’t have to swap out my cinch from colt to older horse. I can fit a bunch of them in my short stock trailer. Plus, small mares and geldings are so darn cute.

I understand that big horses have their place, too. A small horse isn’t going to have the reach and stride that something taller boasts. Certain disciplines require a bigger, taller, faster horse. Riding and selling smaller horses limits my market a little bit also, as many larger men and ladies want something that fits their 6-foot-plus frames and long legs. 

Now I’m not saying that every horse has to be small. Sure, my favorite horses have been on the smaller side. The biggest one is 14.3 and we joke that she’s a giant. I like equines of many sizes and appreciate what they are all capable of. 

Who knows, you might even see me ride a bigger-type horse once in a great while. But I promise that if I do, and you happen to be on something smaller, I won’t ever look down on you for it. 

Figuratively speaking, that is.

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