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The Heavy Horse Rider

Sep 14, 2008
With a growing number of people suffering from obesity, it is not surprising that many riders are questioning their horse's comfort at carrying their weight. The pressure to slim down is bad enough without worrying about your horse, but when you have an animal's wellbeing to consider it can be difficult to know what to do. So how do you know if you are too heavy for your horse?

If you were to look at things purely from a pound for pound position, a horse can comfortably carry about 25% of their weight. That means that a 1000lb horse can manage 250lb of weight. Keep in mind that this must be calculated from the horse's fit weight; if he is a hundred pounds overweight, it does not make him capable of carrying more weight. In fact, he should carry less weight since he is already carrying more than he should.

But life isn't simple, and the pound for pound scale isn't an accurate way of calculating the capability of a horse. There are many other factors to consider. For example, 250lb of floppy, bouncy rider are far harder to carry than 250lb of fit, balanced rider. While 250lb may seem like a lot of weight, it is not uncommon for a fit, tall man to weigh close to that. Some heavyset women can be very fit, and yet still weight well over 200lb. When calculating the weight your horse can manage, it is as important to consider your riding skill as to consider your weight.

Another factor is the conformation of your horse. While it may seem that a bigger horse would be able to carry more weight, this is not always the case. Sometimes a big horse is built in such a way that he has a weak back and cannot carry as much weight.

Consider a 15hh quarter horse with a short back and compact size and a long, lanky 16hh Thoroughbred. Purely looking at weight and height, it would seem logical that the 16hh Thoroughbred would be able to carry more weight. But, this is not the case. With a long back and a finer build, the Thoroughbred is not built to carry weight. Bred for racing for many years, Thoroughbreds are built for speed and for carrying a lightweight rider. The Quarter Horse may be smaller, but the shorter back and more compact muscling are far more suited to carrying weight. Quarter horses have been bred for sports where they are expected to carry weight, and be athletic at the same time.

If you are not sure if you are the right weight for you horse, you need to consider your horse's condition carefully. If he is fit, has a reasonably short back, and is showing no signs of soreness, he's probably doing just fine with your weight. While losing a few pounds would be good for both him and you, he is managing. On the other hand, if you horse is unfit, or has a long back, or is showing signs of soreness either in his back or in his limbs, you need to rethink your choice of mount.

This does not necessarily mean that you need a new horse. You can spend some time working on your weight, which always helps. But there are other things you can do. If your horse is not fit, see if you can find ways to get him fit. This could be longing him, or asking another rider to work with him a bit, if you do not have the time. Make sure that you saddle fits your horse well, and take some lessons to tune up your riding. Avoid doing a sitting trot, and try riding in a half seat when cantering. Keep high-impact riding to a minimum until you get your weight down.

Of course, if you horse is showing signs of soreness and you are not in a position to loose much weight, you may need to consider finding a horse better suited to your build. Your horse might be happier with a smaller rider, and you might feel better with a horse that fits you.
About the Author
Lydia K Kelly is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds of horses for sale Oklahoma, horses for sale Oregon, horses for sale Pennsylvania and other states. Lydia is also a featured author at www.ArticleKing.com
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