Too big for your horse short-term damage or ok for a little while? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 48 Old 07-22-2013, 03:17 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Surry, Va
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weight percents have ZERO basis in scientific fact, simple as that. anyone with the ability to grasp basic logic should be able to see that. So lets see my in shape super conditioned 50 mile horse at 900 lbs can carry less weight than he can now soft and lazy at a 1000 lbs ? Really ? So an 1500lb draft horse with arthritis and a bad back can carry more than an 800 lb arab ? wow good to know.
FACT over a 10 year study at tevis, (100 mile very hard endurance event) study found ZERO correlation between horse weight and rider weight in completion %, winning %, or pull %, up to and including riders at 32%.Confirmation and preride condition did.
FACT in an era when the average horse was barely 14 hands and probably 800 on a good day. a "Horse weight" was a unit of measure equal to 200 lbs. used by people who's livlyhood depended on sound horses.
In that era the actual combat horses again 14 hands, were carrying armor and armored soldiers into combat. The giant chargers are a myth. and only used in parades. Actual war horses based on actual stored horse armor again, 14 handish.
Percents, Not a rule of thumb, Not a guideline, Not anything. Simply regurgitated nonsense. Has as much basis in the real world as saying a brown horse can carry more than a white.

Now Im not saying that horse can or cant carry you or anyone else, what I am saying is that his weight has nothing to do with it.
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post #12 of 48 Old 07-22-2013, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
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In this instance, I agree completely with Joe. While it is possible to overload a horse and, with the type of riding I do that includes roping and dragging heavy cattle, I'd be resistant to going over 30% just for my own peace of mind.

However, just for average riding, an average sized horse with stout conformation that is in good condition is much better suited to a heavy rider than a larger horse that is out of shape or has weak conformation.

From what I can see, your guy is built very well. Compact and sturdy with good legs under him. I see no reason at all why you couldn't enjoy him and ride as long as you choose at your current weight.

Heck, if a person had to follow a 10% guideline, I wouldn't be able to ride half the horses I do LOL. At 10%, I'd have to have a horse that weighed 1750 to adequately carry me and my tack.

The only advice I'll give is just to watch him and if he starts to act like he's struggling a little, then stop and give him a rest.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #13 of 48 Old 07-22-2013, 04:18 PM
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Im going to compare two mares that we have. One is a 15.3hh approx 1200lb ssh. Fairly stout girl. At 5 yo and in what I consider very good condition. When I was at my heaviest 225lbs plus my 45 lb saddle she acted like she struggled going up and down steep hills with me. Kind of irritated me because one of the reasons I wanted her was because she was gaited and going to be stouter. Then the second mare is 14.1hh approx 900 lb very refinded twh. At my heaviest I maybe rode her twice because I felt sooo bad for her having to carry me. However, she moved with ease no matter where we went and she was not in good shape. she is also very toed out in the front.

Its really hard to say whether someone is too much for a horse or not without seeing them ride and being able to feel how the horse is moving.

Shorty * N * Opie
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post #14 of 48 Old 07-22-2013, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
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I don't think weight is the main factor - saddle fit is. In most english saddles, you should be able to fit a palm behind your butt on the saddle. This doesn't go for western saddles, because the seat in these are different, but generally for all saddles, if you'r bum goes over the cantle, if you can just barely squeeze your butt into the saddle, or if your butt only fits into a saddle that is too long for your horses back - then you're too big, no discussions. If you're bodyweight gets too far back in the saddle, you're putting the wrong pressure on the horses back.
Sounds simple, yet many ignore it(or just never heard/thought about it).
Rider weight and the condition, age and build of the horse, still matters of course. But i think saddle fit for the rider, is the best guideline :)

So if it fits, you sits! ;) I think it's great that you care and think about it though, i think we all should.
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post #15 of 48 Old 07-22-2013, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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Here are some threads that might help you think about the way ahead:

Articles on riders weight effecting a horses soundness?

Heavier Riders' Guide

I'm about 175. With my tack, probably around 210+. Mia is around 900, so I've spent the last 5+ years riding her at about 23-24% of her weight.

She is doing fine. As best I can tell by watching her, she enjoys our rides. Corrals are boring. Stretching her legs is fun. If that means carrying me along...well, so be it.

Trooper weighs 830. That puts me over 25%. If he minds, he hides it well. Cowboy might be 700 lbs (13 hands). 30%. He dislikes ANYONE riding him in an arena, but acts happy and relaxed on trails. If I'm on him on the trail, though, I can feel him struggling with my weight at times. Of course, he gets ridden about 6 times a year and eats too much, so he is our fat little out of shape pony. But yeah, by 30% or more, one might want to think carefully. Limit the rides, or do not ride every day in a row, use a saddle that distributes the weight over a larger area, watch your speed, allow more room in a turn, etc.

I read the 10% article. It was done by idiots.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #16 of 48 Old 07-23-2013, 12:00 AM
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I must have read the wrong info on battle horses. The heavily armored knight did ride the big war horse but only in battle. Other than that he wore little armor and rode a palfry which was quite a comfortable ride. The apprentice lead the war horse.
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post #17 of 48 Old 07-23-2013, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Portland, OR
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Thanks to all of you. I've always acknowledged that you can't make any decisions based solely on numbers, and not because I was trying to validate (I was leasing a 15hh, 1300-pound draft cross in excellent health with solid everything) but because of the reasons you all outlined (that health and conformation are what matter if you're talking within reason). Your examples and explanations solidified that for me, Joe and toosexy, et al.

xdressage, thanks for the saddle info. I'm riding for now in an all-purpose English saddle that seems to fit well based on my seat and his sweat marks, but I'm buying a Western saddle soon that will improve the weight distribution.

"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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post #18 of 48 Old 07-23-2013, 12:44 AM
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The Japanese have recently done a study that is far better than any others I have seen, that takes into account the conformation of the horse and the type of rider. It still needs more work and, when that comes out with a final result, it'll probably be one I listen to.

I currently lease a 20+ year old 15.3HH QH who leaves a little to be desired conformation wise as he has a long back and is a little cow-hocked. 10% of his weight would mean that even my far skinnier beginner friend couldn't ride him! I'm a little over 20% of his weight, without tack. He carries me the same as he does a lighter person. He's never been sore in the back since I bought him a riser pad to get the saddle up off his ridiculous withers.

Your boy looks more solid than mine, so I doubt he'd have any problems. However it is good to be mindful that you might be too big - it helps remind myself to ride light, and my seat has improved so much since I've been so aware of the fact that, at his age, my weight could be extra detrimental to his health.
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post #19 of 48 Old 07-23-2013, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Good advice, Tracer. I always post at the trot and don't do gaming or anything extreme. I'll be sure to pay attention to how I ride, though.

"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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post #20 of 48 Old 07-23-2013, 10:43 AM
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Location: southern Arizona
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Slightly off-topic, but Wiki has a good review of medieval war horses & their size:

DimSum likes this.

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