Hi ladies and gents,
I have really been worried lately about the effects of my weight on my 5 year old SSH gelding. He's 14.3 hands, probably about 1000 pounds, and is very narrow.
I keep mulling over the 20% of a horse's body weight "rule of thumb" because over the winter I gained 20 pounds due to antidepressants and poor eating choices. I used to be a perfect 155 pounds (I'm 5'8" with a medium build and irritatingly broad shoulders) for years, but over the course of the past four years I've gained a LOT of weight variety of reasons. Right now I am 220 pounds, my highest weight EVER.
It's got to stop. I need to be able to ride my horses. I bought a treadmill and am walking on it, doing exercise ball stuff, and am starting on Nutrisystem again - I lost 30 pounds on Nutrisystem in the past so here's hoping it works again! Still, I practically just started and am still 220 pounds and it will take time to lose the weight. I am worried about my horse in the meantime.
Because my SSH is only five, I know his body, in particular his spine, is still growing and I am well over the 20% mark on him (my saddle weighs 20 pounds so that is 240 on a horse that technically should be carrying 200 at the most). I certainly did not plan on getting this big when I bought him.
I love him to death and don't want to cause him health/growth issues. I am a "weekend warrior rider" so I do not ride every day. When I do ride, I usually spend about 30 minutes on the ground with him (still getting to know him) before saddling up and riding for another 30 minutes. We don't do anything too strenuous (mostly we walk, sometimes gait, rarely canter), and he doesn't show any signs of discomfort carrying me. I know that doesn't mean I might not be affecting him though.
Anyway, here are some embarrassing pictures that were taken out on a windy day in a pasture full of cow poo recently.
Oh, and my mother has the uncanny ability to get pictures of me just as I am leaning forward to pet the horse or stretching my back or when I am in the middle of praising the horse (I hate those pictures when they catch you in the middle of saying something lol) and that's what is happening in most of these pictures so I apologize for my form. We were mostly chillin' out so I know I am not in good form. And he is busy checking out the cattle here - he's not their biggest fan at the moment.
I want your honest opinions. Am I too big for this horse? I want to do the best by him... and if I am going to hurt him by riding him at my current weight for the length of time I do, then I guess we'll just do groundwork until I've lost enough.
Oh, and I know my saddle isn't big enough for me either. It's not my regular saddle - I use it on this guy because my usual saddle is too big for him.
I have seen lots of debates about the 20% "rule" and don't know what to believe exactly. I just don't want to hurt my boy if it is possible right now at this weight.
Please give me your opinions and suggestions about what I should do if I *am* too big for him at the moment to keep him tuned up and learning (just groundwork?).
Thank you all! I am working on the weight but don't want to jeopardize my horse's health in any way at this point in time.