Am I too big for a 12 hh pony? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Question Am I too big for a 12 hh pony?

To preface this, let me just say: I am not a horse owner, and I just started taking English riding lessons last summer. Although I may be an okay beginner-level rider, I still don't know very much about horses at all.

I have a friend who owns a horse and a pony that are both older (in their teens and twenties) and haven't been ridden in a while. My friend wants me to come over once a week to exercise them and get them used to trail riding again. Our first trail ride was yesterday, and I rode their 12 hh pony (we plan to switch horses every week--the other is 14.2 hh). She is very sturdy and used to be some sort of mountain pack horse (not sure on the details), so she's used to carrying heavy loads. I am 20, 5'7" and weigh between 135-140 lbs. She did really well on our ride and didn't seem to have trouble carrying me. We mostly walked and trotted, but we also cantered three or four times for mainly 30-40 second spans. I found that I balanced really well on her as compared to larger horses (I'm used to riding anywhere from 14.2 - 17.2 hh horses), and her gaits were really smooth. The only trouble I had is that on one of our canters, my feet were knocking the back of her front legs, but I think it's just because I let my legs swing forward a bit too much. Since I'll be riding her no more than once a week for 1-2 hours, I don't think I'll be tiring her out too much. I know that I'm definitely too tall for her, and I probably look ridiculous riding her, but that's not the point. I'm just worried about damaging her back with all my weight. What do you think?
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treeeeebeard is offline  
post #2 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 09:19 PM
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Short rides are okay. But you should really ride a horse more suited to your size. I wouldn't ride this horse for more than an hour. You do not want to make her back sore. Best of luck!
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 09:24 PM
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A good rule of thumb is carrying 20% of their weight is good - the saddle probably weight 25 lbs. at least so that's 165 so a horse to carry you should weigh 825. Somehow I doubt that horse weighs 825 .

And if you're more of a beginner and the horse is not in shape I'd definitely make sure to abide by that rule of thumb.

PS the saddle looks too small for you too.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 09:27 PM
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Yes, you are too big for her. I wouldn't do more than shorter walks on her, she'll probably handle that OK.
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 09:43 PM
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It's difficult to find smaller riders for those ponies.

If you're going to ride her, ride her more frequently but for a shorter amount of time. One ride a week isn't even enough to maintain fitness, let alone improve it. You'll also want to ride in a saddle with a larger seat to distribute your weight better. Don't canter and be very careful about how you ride her. You want to encourage her to use herself as well as possible every moment of your ride. Don't allow her to travel high headed and hollow backed, or she will become sore. As she's older and will be carrying more weight than she really should, it's important to build her fitness slowly.

I just read that you're still a beginner rider, with that information I would not ride this pony if I were you. There is entirely too much that can go wrong here. First, if you are unbalanced, your weight is going to be an even larger strain for this pony. Second, it's a slippery slope to ride friends horses. Who do you think will be held accountable if she does get sore? Not to mention the training, if she acts up, do you know how to handle it? If you're a beginner i'd guess no. There is quite a lot going on here that could also harm your friendship.
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies so far.

To add a bit more detail--the day this picture was taken, the owner had brought the pony to a public event for pony rides. He let me get on and have my picture taken for fun. That's why she has a small pony saddle and why I'm wearing rain boots. :)

Also, after our trail ride yesterday, my friend says she plans to exercise these horses more throughout the week, so they will be ridden more than once a week. She is younger and much lighter than me. She had simply lost interest and confidence in riding because she didn't have anyone to ride with.

From what everyone is saying, I will try to convince my friend to let me ride her 14.2 hh horse. If I ever have to ride the pony again, I will definitely limit it to mainly walking and some trotting, and not for very long. The main thing is I don't want to injure her. I am not worried about her acting up, as she is very well-trained, and I have been on bolting and rearing horses before anyway.

Thanks again. This was very helpful. Further comments/details are still appreciated.
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-17-2014, 10:34 PM
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I agree with Breakable (I often do!).

good luck with riding with your friend! keep us in touch with the hroses' progress.
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-20-2014, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Just thought I'd post a little update for anyone who's interested. :)

Both horses are doing really well now. They're SUPER fluffy with the thickest winter coats I've ever seen on any horse. lol. On our first trail ride way back in October, despite not having been ridden in 2 years, the horses were so well-behaved. We only had some trouble where whenever we walked in the direction of their home (of course), they would stubbornly keep trying to go in that direction. But after a few rides since then, they're absolutely fine and seem to enjoy the change of scenery. I have ridden the pony a couple times, for no more than a hour at a walk, each time listening very carefully to her to make sure she wasn't uncomfortable. However, I couldn't detect any signs of discomfort at all. She was so willing to go, and she would get so excited whenever we would reach a clear meadow (as much of the land where we ride is sparsely wooded trails). I had to be careful in the meadows because she would break out into a canter at the slightest touch of my leg, and a few times I let her go since she seemed to have so much energy. I guess that's a good sign, though, right?

Most of the time, though, I ride the Paso Fino/Rocky Mountain Horse mix named Napoleon. He is such a smooth ride and is also super well-behaved. Here is a picture of us. :)
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-21-2014, 12:46 AM
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Congrats on having some horses to ride! :)

You've gotten some really good responses here so I won't even address that.
The one thing I have seen in both pictures that concerns me is the saddle pad - it appears that an english saddle pad is being used with a western saddle. Western saddles are meant to be used with a thicker, western, pad.
English saddles are made with "built in" padding so a well-fitted saddle, in theory, could be used without needing a pad at all. The pad is there literally to keep the saddle clean.
Western saddles, on the other hand, don't have built-in padding. They rely entirely on the pad to cushion the horse against the saddle. That's why western pads are thicker and more cushion-y.
It's the difference between wearing thin running socks with hiking boots, or thick hiking socks with running shoes - uncomfortable if you don't have the right pairing.

Since you're on the heavier side for these horses [nothing against you, from the description you gave I'm your exact size in every respect - I would be saying the same things to myself], it's even more imperative that you use proper equipment, ie a western saddle pad with a western saddle, to keep them feeling comfortable. :)
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-21-2014, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice! With the small pony we do use a thick Western pad for her saddle (both the pad and saddle are different from those shown in the first picture). Unfortunately the owner of these horses does not have another pad to use for Napoleon, so we are using those two plaid English pads shown in the picture. We thought that was thick enough, but if it isn't I will definitely encourage him to get another Western pad for Napoleon.
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back problems , exercise , horse health , pony , trail ride

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