From Endurance to Dressage
How Tall is Sydney?
Sydney is not 16'1. I think most horses are shorter than their owners think they are. There seems to be status associated with the height of your horse: taller horses bring more status. Sydney was sold to me as a 16'1 Thoroughbred. I didn't take the time to verify his height until this past weekend.
I've measured Speedy G at least a half-a-dozen times since I got him as a three-year-old. He's a bit taller than when he first arrived, but I think he's done growing now. In my experiences, Arabians can grow until they're about 8 years old. Speedy is 7 and a 1/2, so I'll measure him again in the spring to see if his withers have come up any more. For the last year or so, he's come in at a solid 15'1.
Although I keep saying I'm going to get one, I don't have one of those handy measuring sticks. Instead of the stick, I use a long builder's level and a metal tape measure. Before you try this at home, it's a good idea to introduce the level and metal tape to your horse before you start whacking him in the leg with a noisy yellow snake. I'm just saying ...
Anyway, to measure my horses, I make sure they're on a level surface, preferably mats on cement. I ask them to stand as square as possible. Once they're standing quietly and are comfortable with the tape measure and level, I pull out 65 inches on the tape measure and engage the little locking mechanism. I slide the metal end-clip of the tape measure under my boot. I then hold the tape as close to the horse as I can while still keeping it plumb. I lay the builder's level across the highest point of their withers. If the level is long enough, it will reach the tape measure. When the level is ... level, I read where it touches the tape measure. I divide the inches by four. Speedy G is 61 inches tall - 15 hands, 1 inch. Sydney is exactly 64 inches tall - 16 hands even.
At different times in the shoeing cycle, Sydney is probably taller, as is Speedy G. Both boys had their feet done on Friday. If I had measured them before the farrier came, they might both be an inch taller. I like to measure immediately after the farrier comes because they have the shortest hoof wall they'll have, but the height of the shoe is now added. I figure that the fresh trim evens out the new shoes. So if you want a taller horse, measure him in shoes the day before the farrier comes!
Speedy G is a much smaller horse than Sydney. He's smaller everywhere. His chest is narrower, his legs are thinner, his neck is thinner, and his body is much shorter from front to back. His neck is longer however, and his withers are far more pronounced than Sydney's are. Even so, I was surprised that only three inches separate my boys. I knew Speedy G's measurement was accurate as it hasn't changed in over a year. I measured Sydney three times to verify that he was only 16 hands. He feels much larger.
So to set the record straight, Sydney's little bio over there on the side has been changed to reflect his current height of 16 hands even. Have fun measuring your own ponies!
10/18/2011 01:23:25 am
I agree, people seem to exaggerate their horses' heights frequently, particularly when selling! We have a height stick with a built-in level where I work, so the horses -can- be measured accurately, but you'd be surprised at how many people can't use it right (they don't lock the stick into place before adjusting the level) or just measure at the wrong spot. There is a rescue near us that used to advertise an available horse as 18+ hands, while showing pictures of him standing next to fences and average-sized people -- it didn't line up, but if you pointed this out, they had excuses for it. Why is it so important to have an 18-hand horse?
10/18/2011 05:16:25 am
Yeah, I do not get that either. I met this lady who had a 15.3 hand young gelding and she was determined that he grow to 16 hands so she fed him three huge meals a day. The extra feed did not seem to make him grow, but it did affect his temperament. Yikes.
I don't know if the height difference pre-trim vs post trim would be a whole inch? That seems like a lot. Here the official measurement is sans shoes, so if your horse is shod the measurer subtracts 0.5 cm (0.2") from the measurement. It would be really interesting to know what the height difference is at the different times of the shoeing/trimming cycle. Now I want to get out our level and tape measure!
10/18/2011 11:12:25 am
I love all of your responses! I had no idea so many people had faced a similar prejudice!
10/21/2011 11:55:49 am
I'm hoping mine don't exceed 15 hands, and I even hope the girls don't exceed 14.2 so that IF I ever get them trained to drive, they can compete as ponies. I have an official horse-stick, I think it goes up to 18 hands. I also have an official mini-stick for measuring my sheep! Heh.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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