On the unhappy front I had "the talk" with J and while I had to pry it out of her she did say that she thinks Katai is too small and that she wants to see me on something bigger and more talented. In a way it's a huge compliment that she feels like I have the skill to make some progress in this sport.
I have put even more thought into it but ultimately I feel the same as I did before. I realize that riding a pony isn't everyone's cup of tea and if anyone would have asked, before even hearing what J thought, I would have guessed that she would have said Katai was too small. I mean she doesn't have more than one or two horses below 16 hands and the horses she has her more talented clients on are all closer to 17 hands. Plus we are talking dressage where a 15 hand horse is considered a pony.
I have also always had in the back of my head the thought that if riding Katai stops being fun or I feel underhorsed I can find her a little girl and I can move on. I don't want that right now though. She brings a smile to my face every time I ride her and unlike some ponies I've ridden she never feels small when I'm on her back. In fact she feel like a much larger horse.
Just to be sure I went and did all the research on sizes again and I'm currently well within the guidelines on size. Plus, by the time I finish prep for the Ragnar I'll be even lighter! She's never shown any discomfort in her back despite being young and asked to move a different way then she would out in the field and I'm constantly checking her over for any discomfort.
Who could ever turn down this face (she's unhappy because I'm taking the picture right after she finished pooping. So rude of me)
Ultimately it comes down to what I want vs what other people think I should want and I've never been good at standing my ground. When I first got home after that conversation I did some horse shopping just to see what would happen and while there are some beautiful horses out there that I would die to own they are all WAY out of my budget, 25,000-50,000, now or anytime in the near future. Frankly, riding Katai is soooooo much fun that I'm going to be extremely picky if/when I ever horse shop again and since I'd really like to stick with ponies it really wouldn't answer J's wish for a larger horse beyond maybe a few inches.
Just because I've been obsessing I'm going to share with you some of the examples I found of adults riding small ponies successfully. Just for comparison Katai is about 13.2 1/2 hands, five years old and wasn't really started until she was around 4.5 years. I am 5'4" and, as they would say on some of the forums I've been perusing, just over 9 stone.
As always reining horses come up with a common height of around 14-15 hands and riders around 215 pounds at times and they are asked to be quite athletic. Iclandics are often ridden by people much larger than me and I know a few that are going strong at 20+ years. Finally, Paso Fino horses were mentioned and are a similar situation to Icelandics in that they are small and often carry large men.
I am very good at obsessing :)