I feel too fat to ride... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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I feel too fat to ride...

A few weeks ago I started a healthy lifestyle change. I use to eat crap;I literally eat hardly any, or no, green veggies in my diet and lots of quick processed foods. I have taken the last few weeks to adjust my new eating habits to something I am comfortable with. I only eat whole grains, lots of vegetables and leafy greens, healthy proteins with the occasional fruit and I only drink water or green tea. I am already down a couple pounds and my confidence is already starting to come back. I haven't yet incorporated a lot of exercise (except dancing, lol) because I wanted to get comfortable with my new eating habits before adding something new to my lifestyle. I am now ready to start incorporating exercise. With that...

My horse has been a huge motivation to get me started on the right path. I have probably only ridden 4-5 times since April 2018. Why? Because I feel too fat to ride. We have mirrors in our arena and every time I rode by, I just saw how fat and out-of-proportion I look compared to my horse. I was taught that a rider's weight plus tack should not exceed 20% of the horse's body weight. My weight plus my tack is 22% of my horse's body weight (I weigh my horse twice yearly). My horse is young and fit. I like to hike with him and we do a lot of ground work which keeps him in really great shape even though I am not riding him.

The last thing I want to do if hurt my horse's back because of my weight, so I just don't ride. I use to be a competitive rider growing up. I think back to those days and remember how strong I felt. I wasn't even super skinny and I never thought twice about my weight. I just rode a lot and felt fit and strong and had great confidence. But I gained weight and I let it get out of hand. Now, I want to improve my health and lose weight so I can get back in the saddle.

Maybe I just drilled it into my own head that I'm too fat to ride...

What is your opinion of the saying, "rider plus tack should not exceed 20% of the horse's body weight"?
Again, my horse is fit. In your opinion, am I too fat to ride with 22% being me and my tack?
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post #2 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:43 PM
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They did a study at the Tevis Cup ride (Western States Ride) in the 90's that was looking at several factors that effect completion. One of those was rider weight and rider weight as a ratio to horse weight. They found that neither rider weight or rider to horse weight ratio had any effect on completion.

For anyone who doesn't know what Tevis is, it's essentially one of the hardest 100 mile rides in the US. This year the completion rate was around 50%. The ride is in California in July so if the terrain itself isn't difficult enough it is also very hot and dusty. I know some of the best riders in MN haven't been able to finish (and one who won our Minnesota's 50+ mile division this year only finished by 15 minutes). The study was done by one of the most respected veterinarians in our sport.

If rider weight doesn't have an effect at Tevis it shouldn't hold you back!

(If you Google Tevis Weight Study you can read the whole study and results)
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post #3 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:43 PM
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From what I've read, people through that 20% rule around a lot, but it isn't a hard and fast rule. Other things to consider:
1. Your fitness level
2. Your riding ability (e.g. are you bouncing up and down on his back)
3. Horse breed (ponies can usually carry a higher percentage of weight, e.g.)
4. Horse's back (short back can carry more rider weight)
5. What sort of riding you are doing (walking probably OK, jumping maybe not)
6. How the horse reacts to your weight.

You are so close to that 20% that if you felt good about the other things I mentioned, then you should be OK to ride. I am not an expert by any means; this is a compilation of things I have heard other people say.
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post #4 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
From what I've read, people through that 20% rule around a lot, but it isn't a hard and fast rule. Other things to consider:
1. Your fitness level
2. Your riding ability (e.g. are you bouncing up and down on his back)
3. Horse breed (ponies can usually carry a higher percentage of weight, e.g.)
4. Horse's back (short back can carry more rider weight)
5. What sort of riding you are doing (walking probably OK, jumping maybe not)
6. How the horse reacts to your weight.

You are so close to that 20% that if you felt good about the other things I mentioned, then you should be OK to ride. I am not an expert by any means; this is a compilation of things I have heard other people say.
Thank you for the advice. Just to answer a few:
1. Not the best fitness level. I can hike about two miles and run about one before I get really tired. I do tend to push myself a lot so I can break the mental barrier pretty easily. But I have a lot of room for improvement.
2. I am an advanced rider, even though I haven't ridden in a while. It all comes back right away, just some muscles ache after a good long ride. I have a good seat.
3. I have a 15.2 hand Quarter Horse gelding- built like a tank.
4. Short-backed horse
5. Light trail riding I love the most (at a walk) and flat work in the arena (walk, trot, canter with occasional pole work)
6. He doesn't react. When I mount from the mounting block, he just stands there mellow as could be.
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post #5 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
From what I've read, people through that 20% rule around a lot, but it isn't a hard and fast rule. Other things to consider:
1. Your fitness level
2. Your riding ability (e.g. are you bouncing up and down on his back)
3. Horse breed (ponies can usually carry a higher percentage of weight, e.g.)
4. Horse's back (short back can carry more rider weight)
5. What sort of riding you are doing (walking probably OK, jumping maybe not)
6. How the horse reacts to your weight.

You are so close to that 20% that if you felt good about the other things I mentioned, then you should be OK to ride. I am not an expert by any means; this is a compilation of things I have heard other people say.

I'd add to this what sort of physical condition the horse is in. A fit, healthy, active horse vs. the equivalent of an equine couch potato will be able to carry more, longer, IMO.
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post #6 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 02:58 PM
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Go ride your horse, use those mirrors to be the best balanced rider you can be, enjoy, the more you ride, the fitter you will both get.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
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post #7 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 03:15 PM
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I don't like to see myself in a mirror, on top of my horse (I lease him , so technically , he is not 'mine') . . But, as long as there is no mirror around, we both are fine.



I think I am right about AT the 20% with tack. Hard to know exactly, but close enough. I'm sure I look funny . . a bit like a Ms. PacMan on a pony , but, we keep up with all the other 'normal' riders, no problem.
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post #8 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I think I am right about AT the 20% with tack. Hard to know exactly, but close enough. I'm sure I look funny . . a bit like a Ms. PacMan on a pony , but, we keep up with all the other 'normal' riders, no problem.
LOL like this guy?
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post #9 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 04:07 PM
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You are not too fat. The 20% is not all that accurate.
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post #10 of 29 Old 01-31-2019, 04:53 PM
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You're so close to 20%, I think you should be fine, especially based on your horse's description. With your current diet, you'll probably be at the 20% mark before you know it:)



I also wanted to add that I think you're on the right track with getting used to your new way of eating before adding strenuous exercise. I work in a weight-loss clinic, and that is what we advise for our patients and it works really well. Good luck and keep up the good work!
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