Choose the Right Size of Horse

Are you looking to acquire a horse? Do you know what size is right for you? Find out everything you need to know in this article.
Choose the Right Size of Horse

Last update: 24 March, 2020

There are lots of different things to consider when choosing the right horse for you, and one of them is making sure you choose the right size of horse. In this article, we’ll look at the most important things to consider, paying particular attention to the size of the horse depending on your needs.

Initial things to consider

It’s important to remember when acquiring a horse that these animals are hard work. In other words, not only is it a financial investment, but you’ll have to dedicate time to them.

Many people would like to have one, whether for work, hobbies or sport. But when it comes to choosing, people are often confused by the range of options available.

So, what do you need to take into consideration? Does the size of the horse matter?

Choosing by breed and character

One thing that’s important to do when buying a horse is to find out as much as you can about each breed’s characteristics and temperaments.

A woman hugging her horse.

To do this, consult with experts and a trusted vet. If it’s your first horse, then it’s a good idea to choose an intelligent animal with a calm temperament.

Size of the horse: no small matter

One question you need to ask yourself is why you want a horse. The right size of horse for you will depend on the answer to this question.

Horse or pony?

When talking about size, we can’t avoid mentioning ponies. Ponies are less than a meter and a half tall at the shoulder, whilst horses are considerably taller.

However, believing that a pony will be easy would be a mistake. Whilst it’s true that ponies are smaller, they’re generally more stubborn and have a worse temperament.

The right size of horse: what’s the right build?

Size and build are closely linked, so it needs to be matched to the job that your horse is going to do:

  • Head: neither too big nor small
    • A large head will mean more weight on the front and a wide neck will hinder movement
    • A small head will have a small mouth, which will make it harder to settle the bit
    • Small ears can mean a more nervous horse
  • Neck size
    • The ideal size is neither too thick at the top nor too short. A short thick neck is more difficult to handle when mounted
    • A thin neck at the top and a muscular neck at the bottom will cause a problem with the force exerted on their jaw
    • The size of the neck needs to be in proportion to the shoulders
A horse that may be the right size of horse for you.

  • Back and rump
    • A rather short, muscular back is better than a wide one
    • Shoulders higher up than the rump
    • You should research what breeds are available and establish what your needs are

Relationship between rider weight and animal weight

Another matter to consider is how the size of horse compares to the weight of the owner.

What does this matter? Well, according to research on horse health, there are many problems associated with the rider’s weight.

Studies have shown that the rider should not exceed 10% of the weight of the horse, otherwise the horse could suffer from back problems.

Back pain in horses will have the following symptoms:

  • Moving too much when being ridden
  • Biting or growling when being mounted
  • Running or refusing to move when mounted

Observe the horse’s behavior

Having considered breed, morphology and size, you now need to think about the horse’s behavior. This includes their character and, since they’re sociable animals, the habits they’ve acquired. Once you’ve chosen your horse, spend some time in their current habitat to get to know them.


There are many factors to consider when choosing a horse, but the size is a key one. You need to carefully consider the horse’s build and choose one in line with the activity you wish to use them for. And don’t forget the rider-horse weight ratio!

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