Worried about my weight and my young horse - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 06-06-2014, 06:55 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by dernhelm1984 View Post
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.

Jenny :)
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post #12 of 16 Old 06-07-2014, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: New Zealand
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Jenny, walks are the best. I do heaps with my girl just because I am on the large side, as is she, and it helps us both. Good opertunity to do ground work, but also a good incentive to exercise as it's not just you on your own. Horses are the best company :)
Also, more photos of your boy would be totally appreciated ^_^

I am her eyes, she is my wings. I am her voice, she is my spirit. I am her human, she is my horse.

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post #13 of 16 Old 06-07-2014, 08:12 AM
Join Date: May 2014
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Originally Posted by Golden Horse View Post
While that is certainly true, it is an easy way to lose weight, it is not always a positive step for the horse. A well fitting western saddle will spread the weight over a larger area, and may actually be more comfortable for those of us with errrr more generous behinds. There is a balance to be found, weight is not the only criteria.
Certainly, but some Western saddles can weight upward of 40lbs, while others can weight closer to 20lbs, which was my point. A Western saddle doesn't have to be heavy to be balanced, and I only made the comment since the OP was worried about weight.
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post #14 of 16 Old 06-07-2014, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Frieda View Post
Certainly, but some Western saddles can weight upward of 40lbs, while others can weight closer to 20lbs, which was my point. A Western saddle doesn't have to be heavy to be balanced, and I only made the comment since the OP was worried about weight.
LOL and I acknowledged that, but again, that 20 pounds difference may or may not be worth it, fit trumps weight for me. Also some, not all, but some lightweight western saddles are junk that shouldn't be ridden in.
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-07-2014, 11:10 AM
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Western saddle trees vary a lot in size. My Abetta has a small tree while my Martin has a big one. I've read that on average, a western saddle distributes weight over about a 50% larger area than an English one. If the concern is "Will my total weight hurt my horse's bone structure?", then any weight saving is good. But I think a more realistic concern is, "Will my weight cause soreness to the muscles of the back?" In that case, a western saddle can help. My tack & I are normally riding at about 25+% of my horse's weight, and she prefers the broader coverage of a western saddle.

Another area that I think is often overlooked is the width and shape of the channel running down the center of the saddle. My horse gets pretty jumpy if that channel isn't wide enough. I think pressure on the muscles next to the spine is her biggest 'complaint' about the various saddles I've tried. It is the single most common feature of saddles she doesn't ride well in. Some western saddle pads help with that problem.

For the OP: Here is a thread that discusses how a horse carries weight, and what is or is not "too much" weight:

Articles on riders weight effecting a horses soundness?

Be aware that one of the articles cited was a study that deliberately used out of shape horses: 4 months without any riding, then the study watched them being ridden for 45 minutes, once every 2 weeks. Even then, muscle soreness picked up at the 25% mark.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #16 of 16 Old 06-07-2014, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
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I have heard that good balance and seat help immensely if worried about weight issue. I too have weight issue that I am addressing,want to lose between 20-30 pounds so I feel better and look better. Your horse looked gorgeous and you looked like you were enjoying your ride. If you were doing activity that was strenous it might become issue-I trail ride my TW gelding mainly in fields and we have been to Wranglers in western Kentucky with family with no ill effects on him.
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