Can a 15.1 hh, 1100 lb quarter horse carry a 300 lb man for a short 1 hr trail ride? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:52 AM
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It's not just about weight but weight distribution. A 300lb man will likely have a substantial belly on him which puts too much weight on the front of the saddle. With women they often pack a lot out behind so there is additional weight on the rear of the saddle. In both cases the weight isn't evenly distributed on the horse's back. With the extra weight on the front of the bars there's a good chance the saddle will jam into the edge of the scapula which then may cause damage and scarring to the underlying tissues. Too much at the back and that's an invitation to loin problems and the horse either refuses to be saddled or may start bucking because he hurts. These things may not show up on the ride but may within a few days as the tissues swell.
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post #22 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:57 AM
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Here we go:
"Increasing the weight a horse carries also increases the ground reaction forces--the amount of energy that "pushes back" on the sole of the foot when it strikes the ground--that each limb withstands with each stride. "When you add weight when a horse is standing, the force of the weight is divided through all four limbs," Wickler says. "But as he gallops, not only do the forces go up, but also at different times throughout the strides all of the weight must be supported on some limbs individually."

To find out how horses compensate for these changing forces, seven horses--four Arabians, two Thoroughbreds and one Quarter Horse--were trotted at a range of speeds across a force-measuring plate both on the level and at a 10 percent incline. Normal (vertical) and parallel (horizontal) forces as well as each foot's time of contact on the plate were recorded on the fore- and hind limbs; each horse was also videotaped so that stride time could be measured.

Because a trotting horse looks like he is using his diagonal feet in perfect tandem, it might seem as if the reaction forces would be evenly distributed across the two legs that support him at each phase of the stride. But in fact, there are significant differences in the amount of forces borne by the front and rear legs. On a level surface the forelimbs consistently supported 57 percent of the forces while the hind limbs supported 43 percent. Going uphill, this pattern of distribution shifts, with 52 percent supported by the forelimbs while the hind limbs took on 48 percent. Time of contact also varied. At higher speeds, the two feet were on the ground about the same amount of time, but at slower speeds, the hind limbs tended to spend less time on the ground--an observation that had never been made before in quadrupeds, according to Wickler. For the front limbs, time of contact didn't change significantly whether on the level or on the incline, but the hind limbs tended to be in contact with the ground longer when going uphill...

...Carrying a load caused the horses to leave their feet on the ground an average of 7.7 percent longer than they did while trotting unburdened. On the level, the addition of a load caused the swing phase of the stride to become 3 percent shorter, but going uphill this phase of stride lasted 6 percent longer. In short, explains Wickler, carrying a load causes a horse to shorten his stride, leave his feet on the ground longer and increase the distance his body travels (the "step length") with each stride. All of these gait adjustments work together to reduce the forces placed on the legs with each step. "Forces are damaging," says Wickler, "so keeping the foot on the ground reduces peak forces and reduces that potential for injury."
How Much Weight Can Your Horse Safely Carry?
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post #23 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 11:58 AM
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The walk can actually be harder on a horse's back than other gaits. It is almost always preferable to a heavy, novice rider bouncing up and slamming down on a horse's back at a faster gait, but someone sitting like a sack of potatoes for an hour or more can be very hard on a horse's back. When there is no change in posture or weight distribution, there is compression to one area under the saddle and decreased circulation.

Many riders sit down heavily on their horse and move very little at the walk. Especially with an experienced rider, while they may shift their weight around during extended walking, there is more relief for the horse when the rider rises off the back regularly. If your saddle does not fit ideally, you will find that a horse is more sore after a long, slow ride than after a long, faster one.
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post #24 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:06 PM
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I disagree that a fat guy will carry more weight to the front of a saddle. Fat guys, like skinny guys, sit balanced for their total weight and body build. There is also no one weight bearing point in a saddle. The thighs can carry a lot of the weight, or not - depending on how someone rides. Does the guy lean forward a bit, or lean back, or stay straight up and down? Does his back flex to move with the horse, or is he a sack of potatoes?

When my small (<100 lbs) DIL started riding, her bouncing visibly irritated the horses more than my 180 lbs did.

There are also a lot of different ways to distribute weight in a saddle, and how the saddle handles the weight varies. I generally recommend a western saddle for heavier riders, but our Abetta western saddle actually has about the same size tree as my Bates AP saddle. Just about everyone who sits in my Aussie-style saddle sits it differently than our Circle Y.
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post #25 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:06 PM
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This has turned from an interesting question (thank you, OP!) into a fascinating discussion. I know we've had many similar on HF, however, I like the information and viewpoints being presented here today...

**BSMS, just wanted to add that your D-I-L is absolutely adorable on your equally absolutely adorable mustang! I don't believe I realized you HAD such a mustang! I knew about Mia, of course, and about your Appy, but cannot recall hearing of a third. He is simply too cute for words!

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post #26 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Saddlebag View Post
It's not just about weight but weight distribution. A 300lb man will likely have a substantial belly on him which puts too much weight on the front of the saddle.
That is quite an assumption! My son is 6' 4" and he is nearly 300 pounds, but his weight is very evenly distributed, being as he lifts weights and works out, he has bulky muscles, and yes, a little paunch, but certainly not a lot.

OK, I was going to start another thread with a couple of questions, but now this has surface again...

I was looking at some sale ads yesterday, which led me to this video.

Does carrying 2 'normal' weight men cause more or less strain than one rider who equals the combined weight of the two.?

Also recently I have been looking at videos of a very out of shape rider doing a clinic on her horse. Technically she MAY be at 20% or under, her horse appears to carry her with ease, but she is shorter, and quite fat, therefore her body shape gives her issues as a rider. I wonder if her horse would be a lot happier if she was the same weight but a foot taller, and a bit fitter so she wasn't pulling herself up by the reins to rise. It has led me to ask if weight is the main issue, or fitness?

Saddle, with a heavier rider, but would a horse actually be happier with more weight, as in using a western saddle, rather than an English saddle, given that both are well fitting?
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post #27 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Golden Horse View Post
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.

I draw the line where I feel uncomfortable with seeing that weight put on to a horse's back. 21stone on a horses back is ALOT of weight and most 15.1 and 1100lb horses will struggle. If I saw a horse struggling at a gallop over fences with a light rider then I would disagree with that too ( not to mention backing at 2yr) and we shouldn't make them. 20% isn't a rule, it is a guide line, but it is the top end that I would only consider going over if the horse's conformation was particularly good for weight carrying. Basically don't make the horses struggle, get a bigger stronger horse or a lighter rider.
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Last edited by Clava; 03-14-2013 at 12:19 PM.
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post #28 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Clava View Post
...Basically don't make the horses struggle, get a bigger stronger horse or a lighter rider.
A lot of us have had trouble with getting a lighter rider...

And with my own horses, riding on the flat, I haven't seen any sign of struggle until pushing 30%. At about 30%, they very noticeably change how they move and balance. With little Cowboy, riding him at 32%, it is mostly noticeable in sharp turns. In a straight line, he'll cheerfully gallop with me and not even breath hard afterward.

With Lilly (since sold), when she was green broke, she had to learn how to carry my 210 lbs (including saddle) on her 800 lb body - 26%. It was noticeable when doing turns at a trot. However, after 3-4 rides, she figured it out and seemed to have no more problem with my weight.

Like most recreational riders, I don't spend 12 hour days in the saddle. But a lot of 200+ lb cowboys, using 40 lb saddles, would be in trouble if they needed to keep their weight at 20%. Trooper is an ex-ranch horse. He weighs <850 on a fat day, and wasn't fat on the ranch - yet he carried 200+ lb men with a 40 lb saddle for 10+ hour days in the mountains. And he is quite sound...although he also has the short Arabian back. However, he hated cutting cattle, which may have been because he didn't like working cattle, or it may have just been too hard of a job for a horse carrying 30% or more of his weight already.

BTW - why is 20% the top end that you would only carefully consider exceeding? What is your rationale?

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post #29 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:46 PM
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Excellent comments/questions G H! Personally, and this may simply be a bias or something I picked up in lessons as a kid as a, "Never do THIS!", circumstance, as I really do not know if it is inherently BAD, just SEEMS WRONG, or perhaps I've developed my dislike someplace else...however, I really dislike seeing anyone riding "doubles" horseback. CERTAINLY TWO GROWN MEN, on what I would consider to be a MUCH TOO SMALL/delicate framed/delicate boned horse/pony, ESPECIALLY ON PAVEMENT, and not under any sort of "dire circumstances" (two riders go out on two horses, one horse is injured, and both riders must return for safety reasons to bring help to the injured horse) said scenario, I would overlook it, AS WOULD I overlook two ten year old boys or girls riding their full-sized horse double, bareback, at a walk, slowly, around on a grassy area for a few minutes, IF said horse was not afraid and kids were being safe and getting a laugh/having some MELLOW fun...

I, too, just CRINGE anytime I see things like the example you posted, G H. I can't answer your (great!) questions, but can make some statements! I do agree that it is rather judgmental for whichever poster said such to assume that because someone is "overweight", that they A) are carrying their weight as described, with a belly or a big butt, & B) Athletic ability plays a HUGE ROLE, IMO. I would be considered overweight by some, at 5'1" & 145 #. I do have some "flab", but certainly not so much as to be unbalanced, as my weight is very evenly distributed...I also am VERY MUSCULAR just calves are huge rocks of muscle, as are my thighs, and I have a "butt" on me, however, it is one part of me which is literally hard as a rock and all, well "behind me", without jiggle or any "saddlebags"...

Anyhow, when I first started riding again, the relatively moderate at most amount of flab I did have did cause an unbalanced situation to go from bad to worse. However, as I got into riding shape, the flab got "less flabby", & quickly (!) & my balance issues, when they occurred, were in no way weight related, but were usually advance in effort/required ability related...and I'd catch up within a month or so each time the work got harder.

Anyway, back to the You Tube video; the rear-most male is sitting with his full weight on the horses kidneys, and the saddle makes the position awful...just DON'T LIKE IT. PERIOD!

Interested to read others' responses!

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post #30 of 126 Old 03-14-2013, 12:58 PM
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Subbing......... some really good points here, and I agree with whomever stated fitness as being a biggie. That would make a big difference as far as weight. Not only the horse's fitness, but the rider's as well.


Last edited by nvr2many; 03-14-2013 at 01:05 PM.
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