Regarding the above statement about saddle fit, (and I certainly do not intend to get into an "overweight riders are bad/people disliking overweight riders are no good" argument), because I can sense that I will be the one to get angry, and that-getting angry-is something I try to avoid at all costs.
I feel saddle fit is SO important. The saddle acts as the lifting and supporting/weight distribution device, moving the rider's weight off of the spine in a suspension bridge type of fashion and ensuring that no one part of the horse is carrying the large or main percentage of the rider's total weight. Balance and ability to move WITH the horse is so important as well! If you cannot move your body in tandum with the animal's movement, you are fighting it, and with a lot of weight!
Considering the sort of tremendous care, attention to need (horse's need) and healthfulness I've seen in the horses owned by one of my closest "horsey" acquaintences (she is in the upper 200# range, and is close to 6ft tall!)--I simply do not buy into the "larger riders are irresponsible--on ANY front)...mind you, she generally
rides large draft/warmblood mixes to ABSOLUTELY ENSURE an approp wt ratio...
This being said, her first/complete HEART horse, whom her mother bought for her at age three (when the horse was 19) was an Appy, not an overly large appy, probably 16hh, and this horse babysat my friend and taught her EVERYTHING as she grew as a rider and as a person!
Very sadly, the horse was euthenized just a few months ago, at age 32 because of a cancerous tumor, and never had a lame day in her life, not to mention that when the chiro came out every month to work on all this girl's mom's FIFTY-SIX horses--about half are owned by mom and mom's two daughters, the other half are boarder's horses, but they all are ridden under the head trainer and full owner of this stable-- my beloved trainer--the ONE horse which they never found anything "major" out of place on
was my friend's mare...(this is an ex-show/ex-breeding barn which went from being VERY high profile and profitable showing/breeding outfit, to merely a FUN, friendly, and wonderful place for families to take lessons, learn horsemanship, and do so in impeccable, beautiful surroundings!)...
The Appy's owner (the little 3 year old who's mom bought her this mare as her first horse!) is, as I described above, presently 16, and she continued riding and showing this mare (and WINNING) long after the mare was completely blind in both eyes (even though no one at the shows had a clue, including the judges!), truly had NO "health problems", not one, related to the fact that her tiny three-year old rider happened to grow over the subsequent 13 years into a much larger (taller and heavier) older teen rider...she grew and through riding this horse AS she grew, conditioned the mare to her size and thus there was never a problem...Bottom line, however, was that they ensured that tack which fit both horse and rider exceptionally well was never scrimped upon.
This girl's mother, my trainer, knew that saddles had to fit perfectly, and made sure they did, thus, this horse and her rider both benefitted from diligence in the form of all of the horse's care. None of this diligence had squat to do with the rider happening to grow into a large-sized person. She is an AMAZING rider. She rides English, Western, jumps, trains anything that moves, and still takes three lessons a week, despite growing up with a renound trainer for a mother!
My bias is totally such that size, while something that must be considered in every rider, not just the "heavyset" rider(!), can be made into a "HUGE DEAL" IF...you choose to be a biased, "heavy-hater"....OR, it can simply be one of those millions of things that we, as horse people, must take into consideration when choosing everything we must do, wear, buy, train for, etc...when riding every day, and that is that. No biggie...so to speak!
And have seen some of the most un-concerned (re:anything about their horse's comfort) in the behavior of some of the tiny little girls who, while around my height (5'1") and about 30lbs less than I (I'm right at 145lbs), only care about THEIR needs...Forever riding in a TomThumb bit, "The horse is TOO STRONG over fences and I'm TOO SMALL to hold him back" and "I know the brand new super-duper expensive, non-synthetic, leather saddle I just bought has not yet been broken in and thus cut into my horse's shoulder, but, I PAID $2,500 FOR IT! He can live with a little cut until it breaks in before my next SHOW!"
While ^ this may be a common way of thinking in the big-time-show-person-world, I simply cannot imagine feeling this way. It's funny. I don't know if larger riders, simply because many have had to endure some degree of emtional pain at some/various points in life, due to being larger sized, tend to be much more empathetic (a generalization, but one I've seen time and again nonetheless), I feel they will be the first to step up to care for both the emotional and physical needs of their horses and their friends. This is always so so very appreciated by me. And I'm not saying little riders aren't empathetic and don't make wonderful horsepeople and friends! I guess, I just don't get where that ANGER towards large sized riders comes from? Do littler people believe that heavy riders should not be allowed the same priveledges they have when it comes to horsemanship? Is this BASED on anything REAL? As stated, I've seen nothing I wouldn't want to emulate out of the heavier-set riders I've known. Unfortunately, I have seen at least four MAJOR things I would NEVER emulate from my "lightweight" rider-barn-mates...
Okay, don't know if that was even WORTH writing, and if it contributed anything at all, but I felt I needed to jump in with some positive stuff as well as some tack related stuff, surrounded by lots of other stuff (As most of my writing is...again, standard "SORRY GUYS!" I am trying to improve!)...
Best to all!