To know a large horse, either big or tall (or both!) is to love one. While these enormous equines win us over with their equally massive hearts, one can't help but notice that our favorite four legged giants, no matter how gentle, come with their own unique set of challenges. There's a few rules that equestrians should keep in mind when dealing with (larger) large animals, so below we've included a brief set of expectations. Here's a guide for navigating large horse territory:
1. So how do you know you have a big horse? If the shoe fits, literally. When the farrier bills you for a draft horse shoeing there's no way around it - you've got a large animal.
2. Which brings us to the next point. These horses inspired the Pony Club's golden mantra - Thou shall never hand walk in sneakers (and certainly not Flip-flops!). Don't test the scripture, or else spend your next show season on crutches.
3. Two-step mounting blocks are child’s play. No one ever scaled Mount Everest with a step stool. You need at least three steps or you’re not making it up and over. God forbid mounting from the ground, you’d tear a thigh muscle.
4. No, your horse doesn't naturally have a skunk stripe down it's back, that's just the dirt residue left from No Man's Land - that area where neither your arm nor brush can reach, and certainly not a place you can see. Learning how to tackle these "blind spots" is just another hurdle in the large horse lifestyle. Get used to it.
5. When regularly riding a tall horse you lose perspective. It's like the opposite of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Large is now your new "normal" and everything else is well, miniature. When you spot a 16.1h Hanoverian you can't help but fuss over how cute he is. After all, that's practically a pony! Look at those dainty legs and little hooves - so delicate!
6. You don't really know a tall horse until you've fallen from one. There's nothing like the bone splintering crunch after 6 additional inches to provide comparative clarity. So how much velocity does one gain falling an extra hand and a half? I’m not great at math, but it comes out to about 4 Advil.
7. If ponies have a Napoleon Complex and wildly go about exerting their entitled self-confidence, then large horses are the polar opposite. The smaller an animal or object the more terrifying it is to an equine in the 17h+ club. Don't believe me? Try walking a warmblood past a pair of mini horses and see who flees that show down.
8. Not all horses are gifted with power steering. Let's be honest, a compact PRE doesn't handle like a 1400 pound draft horse. Expect a large equine to make wide turns and loathe ten meter circles. This isn't so much The Fast and The Furious, rather a runaway train. Buckle up.
9. Bridles and halters are a choice for the tall horse. When they don't feel like opening their mouth for the bit a tall horse simply raises his head in giraffe-like fashion. Meanwhile, you stretch upward like a small child grasping at air while your horse smirks internally. Remember, carrots are your greatest weapon in the fight against height. Harness this powerful negotiation tool.
10. Expect that all tack purchased for a large horse is a sunk cost. The average horse blanket looks like a mini-skirt on your special brand of equine giant, but go for an 84" turnout sheet or 6" bit and kiss your shot at multiply uses goodbye. Large horses are super models of the equine world - and just like Gisele, they demand their own wardrobe.