Since we had the invasion of the English I followed the trail back to their home and have been chatting with them. Like most boards there are the polite, and the not so polite, the odd troll like person, and lots of people who genuinely believe that they are right.
We have been having a spirited debate, with a fair amount of thread drift on the following question.
It's no secret that I came over here following the hysteria over the Fuller Fillies 22" saddle, and the larger riders posting pics on an American based forum. I have been thinking a lot about this issue, and would like to discuss another point. I may be, probably am, whistling in the wind, when I ask that people try and stay polite and nearly on topic, but, hey ho, a girl has to try.
There is obviously a huge divide in what people find acceptable both between countries, and different people within countries. It is a subject that sometimes brings out hateful and poisonous remarks in the safety and relative anonymity of message boards, but when and where, who and how should the issue be addressed.
Often times people say that their vet/trainer etc say that they are fine, is that because they are the customer, and people don't want to lose the business?
What about the lady who has shared pictures of her at 275 pounds competing in competitive trail rides, should the vets and or judges be telling her she is to big, or is the fact that her horse passes the vetting proof that it is OK?
I compete in video dressage competitions, and have only ever had one remark, and that was for my last test, when I had gained a lot of weight and lost condition, due to knee surgery back in the summer, and that was Cesar Parra saying "remember you need to be fit to ride dressage" totally valid point.
OK, people said I was brave sharing this pic, but I don't call it brave, I feel fine on this boy, my trainer says I'm fine, he is still in training so we haven't been judged yet, but if he was ready I would compete him, Intro level dressage, maybe training.
Now this is brave, I have only ridden this girl once, and although my trainer says we are fine, I'm not sure. She is one for next year.
This photo prompted some of these thoughts, I know that people were upset with some riders shown, but this is in a different category, I don't know who this person is, but this is a different level of weight carrying than any of the folk that posted before.
That does not look OK in anyway to me, and I wonder how people can ride with him and not say something, maybe they do speak up and he ignores them anyway, who knows..
Point is, who should speak up, when and how? It is easy to set weight limits for your own horse, and refuse others to ride, but what on their own horse, would you say something to me in real life, if you saw me on Ben, or Willow? Would you speak up if the gentleman posted turned up to ride with you?
At competitions, should judges be allowed to exclude people for a bad fit, should on site vets call it.. over to you
Now people are 100% that the guy on the grey is underhorsed.
I think that they are 100% that I am to big for Willow.
For Ben there are those who are vehement that I am damaging him by riding him.
A large % who say to big, and if he was my horse I wouldn't let you ride.
A very small % who think that for the work we are doing we are OK.
So today I went out and weigh taped everyone, and this is what I found and what I posted over there:
On actual measures Ben stands 16.2hh on 9" of bone, he was bought as 17hh, but I have never found the other 2"
His calculated weight is 1386 pounds, though I really must take him over the weighbridge one of these days to get an actual weight.
So 20% would put him carrying 278 pounds, with rounding, so in reality with in a couple of weeks I will be at 20%, a couple of weeks more to allow for tack etc.
Currently my tack and I will be at 23% of his bodyweight, so for 3% you wanmt to crucify me for walking him for 20 mins 2 or 3 times a week Or maybe my maths are worse than I thought.
Willow, pictured in OP, is 15.2hh standing on 7.5 inches of bone
She weighs in at 1125, so 28% of her weight, so yes, work to do there.
Emmy is the interesting one, Polish Arab, standing 15hh on 8" of bone and rock hard feet.
According to the weight calculation she comes out at 1096, which I frankly find hard to believe, but she is very short compared to her girth, so nearly 30% for her.
Of all of them though Emmy is most compact, short back, well sprung, and tough as nails Arab, I often see it said that Arabs are better weight carriers so do we do the maths different for them? I have no intention of runing out there and riding her, it is a genuine question.
I am so NOT looking for any validations here, just interested in the general feelings from this side of the pond
Also, don't forget that conditioning is an important variable. A horse that is in good condition can carry more. So, you will work on building up Ben's carrying capacity by conditioning him little by little.
I think the 20% rule is a good guideline, but its much more important to look at the overall conformation, fitness and bone structure of the horse.
I ride a 17hh, 1600lb spotted draft for work, and even though my weight + tack under the 20% rule is a min of 1050lbs horse... this horse is MUCH larger and I would NOT put anyone larger than myself on him, I am definitely at his upper weight limit not only because he's 5 years old and growing but his conformation is just plain terrible. Myself on him
He has gained weight since this picture was taken (in July) and probably grown some, but this is the only pic I have of him from the side (excuse his filthyness... he's a pigpen):
As you can see, he's got a LONG back and at 5 its already curvier than I'd like to see. His feet are small for his size as well (he's a draft size 3 shoe), he has a very narrow chest as well and a narrow frame in general. Though he IS a draft horse, he's a pretty terrible weight carrier.
On the other hand our new horse is the same breed (spotted draft) is 16hh and probably only about 1300lbs (he needs about 100lbs of weight, we got him from the dealer skinnier than I like a horse to be). He's 6 years old and has MUCH better confirmation than our 5 year old for carrying weight. He has a wide-set frame, short cannons and a compact back. His shoe size is a draft size 4 so bigger feet than our other guy as well. I don't have a pic of him from the side, but you can see he's just a TANK:
When he gets up to a good weight around (1400-1450lbs) i'd have no problem having someone as large as 350lbs on his back simply because his conformation and build dictates that he is a very good weight carrier.
Haflingers are also great weight carriers. My haflinger is a fit and healthy 900lbs at 14hh, but he carries me well because of how he's built. Thick cannons, short back (my 18" dressage saddle is as large as he can take) and he has excellent confirmation for moderate weight carrying as well. HOWEVER, because he is of the "sportier" variety of a haflinger, his upper weight limit is probably around 225 with tack... so I'm almost there.
Another haflinger I ride regularly is 13.2hh. Although a fairly obese 1100lbs his frame at a healthier weight would still be around 1000lbs because he's built with a wider frame and stockier bones than my haflinger.
As he is right now I think his max weight is around 300lbs, but if he were in better shape, I think he wouldn't have a problem with 350lbs.
Obviously I'm no vet... but what any well educated horse person knows about bone structure, confirmation and fitness you can make an educated guess as to what that particular horse will be able to handle. Of course, there are individuals out there who don't take that into account... but we can only educate and not humiliate!
If you as an individual, feel you are not as fit and as balanced as you would like to be as far as riding goes, than select a horse that is not at the lower end of your weight range, but rather one that will be able to support you well as you reach your fitness goals. A stout draft or draft cross like my 6 year old horse at work, or the stockier haflinger... would be a good choice if you are 250lbs+
I think you really need to take the breed/conformation of the horse into account.
My friend rescued a couple of Shetland ponies. We were looking at them today and discussing the possibility of breaking one and I said that I would be brave enough to get on if she got her trained up to that point, after all she wouldn't really be able to fling me considering how big I am compared to her.
Uh no, after 2mins of math we determined that 20% of the 650lbs this pony weighs is 140lbs, so she could carry me + 30lbs of tack. Not only would I look REALLY ridiculous on this tiny pony but considering she does not have the typical wider, heavyset pony build, there is no way I would consider riding her on a regular basis even though I would pass the 20% rule.
Zero qualms though about riding her Welsh cob that's 8" taller and *should* be about 200lbs heavier. He has the typical wider than a house build and big, sturdy feet. The dork had zero problems bolting across a field at a dead run with me today and he's a good 300+lbs overweight and horrifically out-of-shape! Today was supposed to be a slow, short walk to start getting him into shape.....
Birdz, did you get to buy Ares?!?! I'm excited for you!
I agree that condition on both the part of the horse AND rider is also a big factor in the weight carrying ability of a horse.
The 20% rule IS a good place to start if you aren't sure, but really, employing common sense is a pretty big factor here and has nothing to do with your weight.
I am a big advocate for a strong, short back, short loin coupling and good bone density, but I also recently posted on my blog that I feel that for the safety of the rider, they should be doing some other kind of work besides just riding - even if it is just walking, if they are just beginning to ride.