We get telephones calls from folks interested in knowing how many hands a particular horse may be. In some cases, they just say, tell me about the horses you have that are less than ??? hands tall. You can bet these calls don’t come from college basketball scholarship recipients. Hey, trust us, we understand the issues faced by those who are “vertically challenged”. There may be some tall ancestors somewhere back there, but the genes in our family haven’t shown any recent activity.
It might be worth knowing that height alone isn’t what makes a horse easy or hard to mount. There are actually a couple of factors you don’t want to overlook. Width is nearly as important as height. When you stop to analyze it, a person with shorter legs, standing in one stirrup, and attempting to put their other leg over the horse, finds it much easier on a narrower horse than a wider one. Although height plays a part, it is easier in many cases to climb on a taller, narrow horse than a horse than may be a bit shorter, but wider. Doc, the AQHA quarter horse shown here, is 14.2 hands tall. Doc is slender in his build and a lot simpler to mount than some 14 hand horses we have that are broader in the chest and rib cage. Doc is also comfortable for folks with shorter legs as he doesn’t tend to spread them as wide sitting in the saddle.
Height is taken from the withers to the ground. Some horses have higher withers that make them measure taller than another one that looks the same size when you put your foot in the stirrup. In other words, the center of the back of two horses can be identical, but they may measure two different heights because one has higher withers.
Without discounting the fact that a shorter horse is easier to climb up, enough can’t be said about having a horse trained to stand still while you mount. Tall or short, a horse that is walking around while you try to get aboard makes it difficult. Doc stands completely still and let’s you take your time getting up and settled as a properly trained trail horse should do.
If you are looking for a horse sized right for you, don’t miss out on what may be the perfect choice just because of the numbers on the measuring stick.