Can a 15.1 hh, 1100 lb quarter horse carry a 300 lb man for a short 1 hr trail ride? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 05:35 AM
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I really don't generally get involved in a fat debate-really they amuse me more than anything, sometimes annoy me, but since I posted before anything came up.... I've owned my horse for 5 years now. I've been in the same general 30ish pound range. I ride him multiple times a week all year long. 3-5 hour trail rides a few times a month from march to december. Started out western (lightweight saddle) for 2 years with him and then switched to english in 2010. He rides the same for me as he does with people much lighter than me, aside from, in the past, trying little things with new riders to see what he could get away with (going in directions he wants to-that sort of thing). He's never offered a buck for me or anyone else. His movement on the ground and under saddle looks better than ever this year after I moved him and made some changes in his life. When exactly am I supposed to see this catastrophic breakdown and pain and suffering? Lol. Do I want to weigh less and (more importantly to me) gain more fitness? Of course, but I'm not going to stop riding when my horse is just fine and is living a great, well-cared for life. Riding gives me motivation to go out and exercise more for my horse and i's continued improvements.

You're getting a lot of good advice OP. It's all really a horse to horse case and testing it out carefully is going to be your answer.
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post #12 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 06:28 AM
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The saddle is a huge deal. If you are heavier and riding, then you must be very critical of your saddle's fit and how it distributes weight over your horse's back. Especially in larger seat sizes, there is a tendency to put the weight too far back. I recommend taking the saddle off and taking a hard look at your horse's back. If you see any signs of muscle atrophy or white hairs there is an issue.
I've seen a horse who was so good natured he kept going out for rides with a hematoma on his back under the saddle.
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post #13 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 07:53 AM
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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" 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 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!

"I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener"
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post #14 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 08:22 AM
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I will add an addendum to my earlier post:

If you are a lighter rider, you need to be very critical of your saddle fit. I recommend taking your saddle off and taking a hard look at your horse's back...etc.

In other words, this is for every rider. Two of my friends are heavy and both choose horses that are capable of carrying their weight and also are very careful about their saddle fit. Both are careful about pushing a horse too far for their conditioning and are conscientious riders in every way. Neither one has back issues or lameness issues with their horse. Another friend is in the under 200 lb range and is very slack about deciding which saddle to put on her horse. Her horses have back issues frequently.
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post #15 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 08:37 AM
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It would not be acceptable for any of my horses if they were that size and weight. Just because a horse can doesn't mean we should make it.
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post #16 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 09:07 AM
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Often what keeps a saddle from causing serious harm is that the horse's back is continually moving. The worst thing anyone can do is use the horse as a chair while chatting. Moving at various gaits offers the horse some relief.
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post #17 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Saddlebag View Post
Often what keeps a saddle from causing serious harm is that the horse's back is continually moving. The worst thing anyone can do is use the horse as a chair while chatting. Moving at various gaits offers the horse some relief.
Very interesting point you've brought up! And while that isn't something I've ever done (not owning one's own horse, one rarely gets to do anything outside of lessons, at least in my particular situation!) it is nonetheless a very worthwhile issue to be aware of, IMO!

"I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener"
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post #18 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:07 AM
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FWIW: When the weight increases, horses do things to make it easier on them. They take smaller steps, and have their feet in contact with the ground a greater percentage of the time. I've lost the link to the study, but they do what humans do when carrying a heavy backpack - they adjust how they move.

I've got a 600-700 lb mustang that I've ridden at times. With saddle, I'm at about 32% of his weight. He carries me fine and doesn't act sore, but I can feel how he adjusts his movement to handle the weight.

Conformation is also a player, not just the horse's size:

If your goal is to win athletic horse competitions, then being light is very important - like with jockeys. But for walking, trotting and limited galloping, horses can handle well over 30% - IF they have the right conformation, IF the saddle fits, IF the rider has OK balance, etc. We ended up needing to buy our little mustang his own saddle, because his back is shaped differently from our other horses.

Our little mustang with our 4'11" daughter-in-law and a too big saddle (replaced after this picture). Short back, thick legs, broad loins...he can carry me fine for a trail ride. It would be grossly unfair for me to ask him to race, or jump, or run barrels with me on his back:

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post #19 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Clava View Post
Just because a horse can doesn't mean we should make it.
Where do you draw the line with that statement though?

Depending on your own ouch point we can say that about riding two year olds, racing TB's flat out etc etc.

Obviously there is a point where someone is too heavy, that is obvious, but it is also obvious that the equation is different for different horses.

The following statement isn't a justification of heavy riders, but merely me thinking out loud.

The concussive force on a horses joints, and wear and tear on their soft tissues, what is the potential damage from carrying 300 pounds for an hour at a steady walk, compared to carrying 150 pounds for 10 minutes at a hand gallop jumping several large and fixed fences? Just because a horse can doesn't mean we should make it.....???

Everything we do with our horses is unnatural, potentially harmful, and yes we need to look after their well being, but it is not as simple as saying 20% is their maximum load.
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post #20 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:48 AM
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I know of no study that shows 20% is the maximum load for a conditioned horse. I know of 1 study that indicates 20% is the max for an out of shape horse, if you don't want the horse to feel any fatigue afterward - IOW, if you want to KEEP your horse out of shape!

But I try to ride our horses enough that they have some conditioning, and I don't care if they are a little sore afterward. After all, I'm struggling to get back to jogging after a 4 year break (thank you Mia, for the back injury!) - and I'm pretty sore from yesterday's jog. Yet I know long term that I will get in better shape, and be able to do easily what I struggled with yesterday.

20% would mean I would never ride my 900 lb mare, who seems to enjoy going out with me (23% with saddle) on a ride. And my 650-ish gelding would greatly prefer to carry my 170 lb son (about 29% with saddle) than to be left behind...and I've honestly never seen him show any signs of soreness or discomfort. But our trail rides are at a walk or trot, and rarely go over 2 hours.

People need to get past numbers and look at the total situation.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."

Last edited by bsms; 03-14-2013 at 11:51 AM.
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