How much can a horse carry?

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How much can a horse carry?

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    01-06-2009, 10:20 PM
How much can a horse carry?

How much weight can a horse carry on its back riding wise? I've heard that a horse can carry 1/3 of its body weight so a 1000 pound horse could comfortably carry 250lbs. But im sure it also depends on how the person rides, if they have a light seat versus if they sit like a big sack of potatos and are total dead weight, right?
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    01-06-2009, 10:31 PM
I have heard 10-15%, some breeds and builds up to 20%. 1/3 seems like quite a bit to me for a horse to comfortably carry, especially since they are not designed to carry a lot of weight.
    01-06-2009, 10:54 PM
Green Broke
It depends on the horse and the rider (and saddle fit!).

On the horse you need to look at the strength of the loin area and the thickness of the cannon bones and the overall conformation of the horse. The height of the horse also plays a factor - taller horses have a higher center of gravity which makes it harder for them balance versus a shorter horse. Plus you have to look at the overall fitness of the horse.

Think of two men that weight the same. One is a short stocky guy that is all muscle, and other is a tall, lean-boned guy with a bit of a beer gut. They both weigh the same - but their carrying capacity will be different.

As to the rider - it depends on their balance and seat. A heavy rider who has a well-balanced and light seat is going to be much easier for a horse to carry than a light-weight rider who is all over the place.

So a stocky but fit pony is probably going to be able to comfortably carry 25-30% of their weight, while a taller and leaner TB is probably going to be closer to 15-20% of their weight. If the horse is overweight, their weight carrying capacity is going to decrease.

And keep in mind - Dale ponies (or was it Fell? I always mix those two up) were used to carry +400 lbs through the hills on a daily basis and stayed sound - and they are stocky ponies and that is dead-weight which is harder than live weight that can move with them. Not that I would recommend that by any means, but just something to keep in mind.

Here is a popular forumula that includes a cannon bone measurement and the horses own weight and the rider's + tack to determine if you are ok:

"A measurement is taken around the circumference of the foreleg, just below the knee. Add together the weight of the horse plus the rider and tack, and divide this sum by the cannon bone circumference measurement. Then divide that result by two. A number between 75 and 85 is good. If the number is over 85, you probably need a larger horse."

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How Much Weight Can an Icelandic Horse Carry?
How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?
    01-08-2009, 10:27 AM
Depends on the horse's bone density and the rider's balance but 20% of the horse's body weight is what I've used as a safe guide.
    01-08-2009, 10:55 AM
Green Broke
It depends on the horse's conformation and fitness level. Short backed horses with dense bone and good muscle can carrt more than a longer backed fine boned horse.

Rule of thumb is 20-25% if their body weight, tack included. That is "average". I have seen light TB types not in good shape have trouble with 20% and I have seen stocky short Icelandics who had no problems doing 20 miles of rough terrain carrying 35% of their own weight.
    01-08-2009, 11:10 AM
Very good points luvs2ride1979. I've heard the same about the different breeds
    01-08-2009, 12:19 PM
I'd probably be considered overweight for my horse (I'm working on it )
I take frequent breaks, every hour at least. Get off the horse and let her rest for 10-15 min. Plus we are just trail riding, not doing hunter class or any extreme riding.
    01-08-2009, 05:53 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Vidaloco    
I'd probably be considered overweight for my horse (I'm working on it )
I take frequent breaks, every hour at least. Get off the horse and let her rest for 10-15 min. Plus we are just trail riding, not doing hunter class or any extreme riding.
Me too. I'm close to 30% of my horse's weight in full tack and trail gear. We take plenty of breaks when we're on long trail rides and stop at every stream! We're both slowly getting into great shape .
    01-09-2009, 06:48 PM
Great question! I would have thought they could carry more than that. IDK how much Major weighs...but I hope im not to fat for him . He has a little bit of buck in him...wich I've been blaming on a little accident I had on him, plus my poor riding skills....but maybe its just him saying "Fatty Get Off ME!!!!!! Lol
    01-10-2009, 10:09 PM
I think Cat gave the best answer.

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