Advice: friend too heavy for horse
So, I have a student who has become a friend. Very nice, awesome person. She used to come to me for 'lessons' but we were really just trail riding. I used to use horses at another facility. Several of which were more than capable of carrying her. Truthfully, she is overweight. A doctor has actually described her as morbidly obese. I now have one lesson horse that I own, and she is my sole horse for lessons. I have others accessible for backups in the event of an emergency, but she is my awesome lesson horse. She has a slight club foot and many years ago was lame because of it and running gymkhana. Also, there was one day when her back was a little sore, but my farrier, another trainer and myself have been working on her body and she's been fine. I'm so worried that my friend is too heavy for her but how do I tell her that without hurting her feelings? Getting back into horses has been really therapeutic for her and has helped her get through some tough times. She has ridden her once and I was a nervous wreck. Going back to the previous facility is not an option because she is flat broke, on disability, and I certainly can't afford to pay to rent someone else's horses for her. I don't know what to do! I don't want to hurt her feelings but I also have to think about the well being of my horse, on which much of my business relies.
Height/build/weight of horse and height/weight of friend? I've tossed my 320# dad on a 1200lb clyde/paint gelding and was just fine (tried to mount from the ground first though D: ). No harm, no foul.
Also depends on what she'd be doing on the horse and how great of a seat your friend has. I know a pony that's more comfortable w/t/c with my 220# ass on him than the little 95-110# girl that leased him, clearly visible.
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It's your horse and your livelihood. Don't pussyfoot around, just be a good friend and be honest with her. If she is a good friend, she will accept this with understanding. In fact, a really good friend would know in advance and not ask to ride your horse. I do not even ask to ride horses that I know my weight will put a strain on.
If she cannot mount without a mounting block, just tell her that to ride, she must mount from the ground. That should eliminate your awkward conversation with her.
I bought my big guy--16'3hh, now OVER 1,400 lbs--for my DH. He was 300 lbs, but has now lost a lot, still he is 6'5" tall and looks great on his horse.
Trail riding stables now have scales. If the guest tops a certain weight they are turned away.
The way I see it you have three options:
1. Let her ride, possibly jeopardizing your horses well-being/ability to continue as a lesson horse.
2. Make excuses every time she wants to ride: It's horse's day off, she's been off lately, etc. etc.
3. Sit her down and tactfully explain why she can't ride your horse. I know she's your friend, but that does not give her a right to ride your horse for free, especially when that horse is also a source of your income. Its sad that she's broke, and on disability, but don't let your sympathy for her cloud your judgement on what is right for your horse's health.
Your horse's health is more important than this person's feelings. If you think she's too heavy to ride your mare, then you need to tell her that.
Offer to let her keep working with the horse, but from the ground only. There are always things to be done for and with horses that don't involve riding.
You are NOT obligated to let someone ride your horse just because they can't afford to take real lessons from someone else.
The horse is about 15.2 and 1100 lbs, APHA and 17 years old. My friend is probably about 300 lbs. she's an okay rider, but not great. I have seen bigger girls ride so fluidly and smoothly with horses that its not an issue. She's not quite there, though. She simply doesn't get that there may be a possibility that she's too big. No, she can't mount without a mounting block, but that's kind of a cop out excuse. She could use a fence to mount up too. I hope she does accept it with understanding, I just really want to go about this in least-hurtful way possible
No, I have made my decision that she can't ride my horse again. It's just a matter of how I go about telling her that. I'm planning on getting some chiropractic work done on her, could the chiropractor maybe suggest a maximum weight the horse can carry?
If she really wants to ride, she needs to find a way to lease a horse or at least pay for lessons. Expecting you to be ok with her riding your only lesson horse, which is too small for her and has had issues, for free, is unreasonable.
I too know someone like this, and there is no way I would let her on my horses. My barn owner didnt have any horses appropriate for her to ride either. I encouraged her to come for walks and do ground work.
Tessa, trust me, fat people know they're fat. It's not a surprise. As long as you're gentle with her and lay out your concerns in a manner that is logical and appeals to her intelligence rather than panders to her emotions, she has no reason to feel hurt.
The very general rule of thumb for weight bearing is 20% of the horse's actual weight, which includes tack. At 300 pounds, your friend is far too big for your mare based on that criteria.
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