Feeling too Heavy - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-13-2020, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2020
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Feeling too Heavy

I'll start off by saying my horse is a 16 hand thoroughbred. She's not skinny, but not a stocky pony or quarter horse.
I'm about 215 lb, so I'd say that I'm about 21% of her weight without tack. I have a lightweight saddle that I haven't weighed but I'd say that with tack, probably about 22-25% of her weight.

I am completely terrified of being too heavy for her to the point that I can't bring myself to get on her. She's a really great horse, but I don't want to be too much for her.

I can post pictures of her conformation tomorrow if people would like.

Anyone else have this problem? Should I just be frank and say maybe I shouldn't ever ride her? I can't afford to keep a horse I don't ride, but I love her.
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-13-2020, 11:31 PM
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It depends.. would you mind giving some more information?

1. Are you a large/tall person or unfit (like many of us are or have been so don't worry about being judged here!)? If unfit you know what advice is coming next :P (never-ending journey eh?!)
2. How much riding experience do you have? (flying potato vs someone that can at least balance and not get in the way).
3. What sort of riding do you want to do? As in how long, how far. Short rides vs hours on the trail make a difference. Jumping makes a difference.
4. If you are unfit, and even if you're not, I assume you mount from a block which is always kinder imo anyway?
5. Is the horse in any work? As in... is she quite fit and balanced in herself already or being worked by someone?
6. More about her, her age and medical history? Any issues from feet to teeth that might in some way be exacerbated by you riding her that you worry about.
7. Do YOU have any issues that might affect your balance or stability?

Sorry they are a lot of questions. But I see this very often where I am and these sorts of questions pop up a lot. I have an Irish Draught and get a lot of people, much heavier people (who are unfit and inexperienced) request to ride her because she's a big girl. I refuse because she's mine and I'm the one paying the vet bills! But your weight range would be fine depending on some of the above factors. There are big tall men riding lots of sturdy horses doing some insane sports or work and have done for years. I think it's just on a case by case basis and let the horse tell you. A picture/video of both you and horse (head smudged out if so be it!) would be much easier to tell.

It's a difficult topic for some but you're doing the right thing in figuring this out now rather than ride and pay for it later. Hopefully more experienced people will chime in soon :)
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-14-2020, 01:16 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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I rode my Arabian mare Mia for 7 years at 25% of her weight without any problems. And Bandit is 100 lbs lighter than she was, and I've been riding him for 5 years now. Lost 35 lbs over the last year so I'm now riding Bandit at around 22%. But before I got him, Bandit was being ridden regularly for 10-15 mile training runs by a guy who "weighs 265 in his socks, and he wore more than his socks when riding him". Bandit weighed 800 back then, so with saddle and tack...about 300 lbs on an 800 lb horse trying to cover 10-15 miles fast. And oddly enough, Bandit doesn't seem to have suffered any long term harm.

There is evidence supporting the idea that 30% is getting harmful, and I've seen horses struggle with weight above that range. But most of my riding life was done at 25% and there is no basis in the scientific literature that riding in that range harms a horse at all, particularly if the horse is riding fit.

Mia & I:

Bandit & I:

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-14-2020, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Williams, Arizona
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Originally Posted by SomeBunny View Post
I can't afford to keep a horse I don't ride, but I love her.

A horse that is not ridden doesn't cost any more to keep than one that is ridden.

Sorry, not picking, just had to say that.

What would Xenophon say?
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-14-2020, 08:16 AM
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I keep hearing excuses in your numerous posts...
You never sat on the horse when you "tried" her out to purchase...
You are afraid to get on her now she dumped your boyfriend and his mother...
You are afraid you are to heavy for her...

This is a new horse, one it sounds like you are terrified of and are asking the members here to justify you not riding...
If you are afraid owe up to that and sell the animal.
Someone put you up to purchasing this horse and you went along...now are stuck.
Your confidence is shot and never was in existence if you never got astride in the first place..

Sell this horse that frightens you just because she is a horse and if you really want a horse go find one you are not fearful of and will ride.
I hear lots of excuses...excuses because you are afraid of the animal so get rid of the animal and find one you are not fearful of.

Sell this horse......
You're not going to make any headway when you look for more excuses to not ride it...
The only other thing is...this 20% rule is your motivation to lose weight.
Once you lose the weight one more excuse is removed of why you can't ride...you up to that challenge?
So here is a mindful...
Many Thoroughbreds are around 1200 pound ...
- 20% rule puts you right in the realm of get on and ride
1200 - 20% = 960, that 240 pounds just put you astride.
Now you have that fear dismissed...
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-14-2020, 10:01 AM
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Pennsylvania
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I agree with @horselovinguy I have read your previous posts but not responded. I feel this horse is inappropriate for you. I'm sure there are some beginner safe TBs out there, but from my experience, well, I've never met one. That doesn't mean they are bad or aggressive, it's simply that I would personally not put one with a beginner. Kind of like you don't start car driving lessons in a Lamborghini. Find this mare a better situation so you can move on with your riding without fear. Also, there's no shame in saying "this isn't working for me". Me myself, I'm phasing out of the more reactive/energetic horses (Arabs,TB,Warmblood) and going more draft pony/Baroque because I want a more chill animal. Riding is supposed to be fun, you just need to take the steps to get there!
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-15-2020, 02:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Montana
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Originally Posted by Palfrey View Post
I agree with @horselovinguy I'm sure there are some beginner safe TBs out there, but from my experience, well, I've never met one. That doesn't mean they are bad or aggressive, it's simply that I would personally not put one with a beginner.
This. So much this. I see so many novices out there swooning over this OTTB or that one, and honestly I've never met a single TB, off track or not, that was a suitable beginner mount. That's a lot of horse, and almost without exception, beginners who are overhorsed end up tapping out shortly after their confidence is shaken. So, I agree with the others. Sell this beastie, to someone who appreciates a bit of fire. You look for a nice calm Steady Eddie mount - and never EVER buy a horse without riding it first. There are folks out there who can do that, either because they have a ton of experience or because they are buying from a very reputable seller or what have you. But 99% of riders have no business buying a horse they haven't sat on.

And make sure when you test ride the horse, you test all of the seller's claims. Lopes on a loose rein? Okay, I want to do that. Trail rides? Let's go. Jumps 4 feet? I gotta see it. If you can't see the claim in person, have the seller video it and send it to you. I'm very much a "Pics or it didn't happen" kind of person. Any claim a seller makes better be able to be backed up either in person or on a video, or I'm calling BS on it. And always make the seller ride the horse first during a test ride. If the seller won't climb aboard, that's a huge red flag and I will walk away right then and there.

But I do think you should keep at it - just not with this horse. This horse has shaken your confidence and you need something better suited to your riding ability, nothing wrong at all with that. Sell this one, and use that money to buy something YOU feel comfortable on - you'll thank yourself for it later.

-- Kai
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-15-2020, 07:22 AM
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I tend to agree with the others that this may not be the horse for you.

Your weight would not be an issue, even if the horse is built lightly because of the height of the horse, as long as the horse is sound.
Especially as a beginner, you would not be doing anything that would tax the horse.

For the sake of the topic, I will say that I have found some issues when riders started getting around or over 25% of the horse's weight, but those issues showed up when one of two things happened: either the horse became compromised in some way (undiagnosed arthritis, a hoof issue, etc.), if very athletic maneuvers were being performed, and/or the terrain was very demanding.

What happens is you are beginning to push the limits of physics and athleticism in the horse, so if something gets compromised by an injury, they stumble, or something else that goes unnoticed before the ride, either the horse or rider (or both) can get injured. If none of those things happen, horses can be fine carrying even over 25% of their weight. For short term or a walking ride in an arena, I wouldn't hesitate as long as the saddle fit both horse and rider well. If you're going to be doing athletic things, going fast or up and down hills, if the horse is not young and very sound, you may be risking that the horse will fall.

This has happened with two of my horses, one was getting older and had undiagnosed arthritis. The other slipped on a very steep hill and was injured. Both riders either close to or over 25% of the horse's weight. I think people think the horse will have some kind of back problems or long term issues if a rider is heavy, but I have not seen that happen, only traumatic issues with a horse becoming unbalanced and falling.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-15-2020, 08:22 AM
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I tend to agree with the others on whether this is the right horse for you.

But that being said, lots of men weigh more than 200 lbs (women too, obviously, but men usually carry weight differently) and they still ride those horses. It's more about fitness than a number on the scale. I'm pretty small in comparison (114 lbs the last time I weighed myself), but I would NOT be comfortable on your horse either because I need a really chill horse or I'll get anxious. I know that, so I don't over-horse myself even though I have many, many years of experience. I'm also not as fit as some riders who are much heavier than me, therefore I may not balance as well or support the horse as well as they do. I am more likely to fall off or to get nervous. So I got myself a really chill horse and I'm much happier.

Forget the numbers. Be honest with yourself about your skill level AND your comfort level. You've seen this horse buck people off and cannot erase that image from your mind. It's not going to get better. You need a different horse that will not make you feel this way - that's just the bottom line here.
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-15-2020, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
....The other slipped on a very steep hill and was injured. Both riders either close to or over 25% of the horse's weight....I have not seen that happen, only traumatic issues with a horse becoming unbalanced and falling.
I'll question this. To a degree it is obviously true. Jockeys watch their weight for a reason. As you demand more and more from a horse, the rider's weight becomes more and more of an issue. Even 15% versus 17% could make a difference at the high levels of performance.

But a horse falling on a steep hill can happen very easily even with a light rider. I've watched horses fall on level terrain in mud without a rider.

The cavalry took going down very steep places to an insane degree:

Both horses and men were sometimes injured. They focused on technique, not rider weight. They concluded really steep spots required maintaining a forward seat because the more typical technique of leaning pack put too much weight on the horse's hind legs, while the FRONT legs were how they maintain balance in steep places. Riding like this made injuries more likely:

But accidents still happened. Bandit & I might take a tumble the next time we go down a MUCH smaller and MUCH less steep spot. All it takes is one foot wrong or a bit of ground to give way. More weight would obviously aggravate the issue, but I've seen no sign it aggravates it very much.

I've ridden Cowboy at 30% of his body weight. It becomes a small issue when the terrain gets rough, mainly because he's 13.0 hands and my weight is too far ABOVE his back. But if I rode him regularly instead of every couple of years, I think he'd learn to adjust. I've noticed green horses struggle until they figure out how to handle the weight.

So yes, to some degree I agree. But I think most horses could easily learn to carry 25% down steep spots with virtually no statistically significant difference in falls, provided their rider is riding right and they BOTH have worked up to that degree of difficulty.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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