Rider weight vs. horse size - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
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Rider weight vs. horse size

I just found this article interesting and thought I would share.

Many riders too heavy for their mounts - study - Featured, News - Horsetalk.co.nz

Let me know if I posted this in the wrong place - I'm still relatively new to the forum.

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post #2 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:10 AM
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There is a post in the plus size rider section about this article.

Being 10% of the horses body weight is unrealistic. Let's say the average horse is generously 1200 lbs. 10% of what would be about 120 pounds max, now minus 20-40 pounds for the saddle and you would roughly need to weigh 80-100 pounds. Really?

I'm definitely very over weight and I've never had a problem with smaller horses carrying me. I ride a tiny 14.2 QH for my reining lessons and he has no issues performing normally. My horse would have to weigh roughly 2400 lbs according to this study.

Obviously less is going to be better, but I think 10% is a little extreme.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:13 AM
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There are already two threads about this exact article here. Very recent.

Just read the comments on it....pretty much says it all......
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:14 AM
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Already posted here, using a link to a British article:

How much weight should a horse carry? New study

Majority opinion seems to be that the vets doing the study need some real world experience around horses. This is just silly:
"An industry practitioner proposed a 10 per cent rider-to-horse ratio for optimum performance, up to 15 per cent as satisfactory and a level of 20 per cent to be a welfare issue."
There is no scientific basis for saying anything above 20% is abusive. I rate this right up there with the folks who think using Border Collies to herd sheep is abusive of Border Collies...
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:18 AM
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pile of rubish.

most men, and the majority of women should be riding drafts by that definition.

my 800# arab should only carry 80#, including saddle(!!!!), so thats, what, a 60# rider, average size of a 10 year old??!!?? I weigh more than double that(as do most women), and after a year of very hard riding she has not had one back problem or lameness issue.

Its only recently that people started breeding really big saddle horses in north america, most before were 14-15hh, 700-900#. most traditional horse cultures(in tibet, the middle east, native americans) bred strong, fast, hearty, enduring horses in the 13-15hh range weighing 900# or less. you cant tell me those guys were all under 80lb....
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Oops, sorry. I must have missed the other threads :)

I thought it was a bit unrealistic as well... maybe it's true for a horse that's already underweight and that no muscle mass, but not a horse in good condition. I ride an 800lb pony and weight 100lbs myself, then my saddle is probably 20lbs. I've had no problem with him being sore after a long ride and he doesn't rear. He bucks occasionally when the weather is nice, but that's because he's feeling good, not from pain.
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:45 AM
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10% isn't even true for an out of shape horse. For an out of shape horse, 20% is a good ROT. A study was done where the horses started with no riding for 4 months, and were then ridden for 45 minutes, then rested for 2 weeks before the next 45 minute ride. The study showed no indication of discomfort up to 20%, some at 25% and significant discomfort at 30%.

I ride Mia at about 23-24%. Even when she had gone 8 months without being ridden, the only time she showed any signs of discomfort were during mounting from the ground. After a month of regular riding, that went away too. Mia is a princess, in her mind at least, and will complain about any peas under the mattress...so I think that data point is a valid one.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 10:54 AM
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Who had that endurance stuff at the last big weight discussion here, bsms, wasn't that you? The weight ratio at the Tevis, 32% I think?
Plus, according to that study, a fat horse can carry more weight than a fit horse. Not.

I found another theory, horse + rider + tack divided by circumference of cannonbone divided by two. If it's around or below 75, you're good, anything above 80 is too much.
That takes into consideration a fit horse. BUT, in my case, my 16.2 hand TB would struggle with weight my 14.2 hand Arab would be fine with. So even that formula is not quite right.

Plus, the built of the horse. Short back, strong loin and good bone are key components.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 11:02 AM
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Probably me, I have posted the tevis survey info multiple times when people bring up stupid rule of thumb percent stuff. Anyone that says anything about percentages doesnt know what they are talking about. Horse to rider weight ratio has ZERO to do with anything.
The tevis data, showed zero correlation between rider weight and horse weight in finnishes, top tens, or pulls up to 32% , which was heaviest weight in study.
Using weight percents is just straight up stupid. So a fat lard butt out of shape pasture puff with skinny legs can carry more than a 900 lb super fit Polish Arabian with 8 " cannon bones ?
Also the average horse is NOT 1200 lbs. How many of you guys have actually put a horse on a scale ?
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-26-2013, 11:05 AM
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Well, I guess someone should start breeding 2500 lb drafts for trail riding. Because that is what it would take for me, a western saddle, and my trail riding gear.

I'm riding a 14.3 Mustang now, who is built like he has a little draft in him, and he is not only sound at age 20 (after me having ridden him for the past 8 years and being a rope horse before that) but he never has back soreness when I brush or put pressure on his back. I am very particular about saddle fit though and went through about 10 saddles to find one that fit like a glove.

While I would love to weigh 100 lbs less, that's not the case at the moment. And my horses seem to carry me just fine. I think it's a trade-off. I give them the best care possible, lots of love and treats, vet care, hoof care, the best saddle fit I can manage, and they carry my fat butt around for a few hours a few days a week. I actually think they probably work less than horses did 100 years ago. I also have 2-3 horses to alternate with, so that helps too.
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