Rider Weight?

Discussion in 'Horse Riding' started by pso, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. pso

    pso Gold Member

    I've just been having a debate with a few people :eek:*#)

    Rider weight....what do you consider acceptable?

    a) competition/training/schooling (where you are asking your horse to soften and round etc)

    b) pleasure/bush riding

    c) at what point do you feel it becomes a horse welfare issue?

  2. Andhi

    Andhi Gold Member

    Firstly I had to laugh as when I logged on, in the breeding forum the topic was "fat bottomed girls" by KPF about her mares; and when I scrolled down I saw this topic. Gave me a chuckle

    Secondly interesting topic and will watch with interest.

    My opinion for what its worth considering I am not thin, and lithe and am one that this topic directly relates to.

    a) dependent on the age of the horse and its level of education.
    A younger horse like Tally will find it more difficult with me for example to hold himself in frame and soften, because face it I am heavier (never have denied the fact that I am a fat chick); however if I do MY best to make sure that I am balanced, not leaning forward or too far back, and ask for him to work to soften and round with lots of periods of long and low I don't believe that my weight will cause irrepable damage.
    However, Tally is a larger framed horse - I wouldn't be asking this on a fine boned Arab etc - but then again I wouldn't be riding a fine boned Arab.

    Out in the bush, for pleasure riding - seeing as I do a lot of my 'schooling' per say out in the bush I see this as no difference, the majority of the time my boy is on a loose rein and being asked to go forward without his nose in the air like a llama, if we can do this I am happy.

    If I was the weight I was when I first started getting back into riding ie significantly heavier (me + another 25-30 kilos) I doubt I would be riding him; even though he is a bigger horse, it would be too much of an ask for a youngster.

    I rode Jazz at my heaviest but she inspired me to loose the weight, just like having Tally has reminded me that I need to keep losing in order to achieve not only any goals I would like to do so, but for my health in general and for him as well. And she was also better educated than Tally was, so found it 'easier' to carry me, as she could carry herself better.

    If I were riding a riding pony, or a fine TB, or a fine Arab or similar - that would be a horse welfare issue - because frankly it would be cruel and look ridiculous.

    Very interesting topic btw.

    I have found that being a heavier rider I am always conscious of my weight and its impact on my horse; and have also discovered that people will make snap judgements about me and my horse; I am up for more ridicule etc but before it used to depress me, but lately it angers and inspires me.

    anyway....sorry for the ramble
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
  3. Anna E

    Anna E Guest

    There was a large study in the USA which suggested that horses regularly asked to carry more than 20% of their body weight (rider + saddle) were more prone to musculoskeletal injuries. So for your average 500kg horse that's 100 kg all up. Allowing 8kg for a saddle, that's 92 - 95kg for the rider.
    But it's so much more complex than that - absolute weight isn't the only measure. Horses can be heavy, but long and gangly, whereas a short stocky horse might be under 500kg but better up to carrying weight. And there's the issue of bone density and type... which depends on early nutrition. And for the rider it's not just about weight - it's fitness. Where I start to worry is where someone is riding to beyond their FITNESS level - then they get out of breath and tired and become much more of a burden to the horse.
    An hour's bush ride - a 500kg horse will handle 100kg + quite happily - I would have no worries about putting my 105kg husband on my Standy at 15.2, but not for more than an hour or two.
    Schooling and flatwork - it's more about balance and fitness than absolute weight.
    But for me, faced with an Arab who'll battle to be much more than 450kg and me wanting to do a Quilty - I've come down from 81kg to 71 with 2 more to go.. Plus I have been working on my aerobic fitness. Because that's up to 16 hours in the saddle and anything more than that weight would be unfair.
    It becomes a welfare issue when the horse is obviously struggling... I don't know that the RSPCA would intervene on the basis that something might cause a horse to have tendon problems later on...;)
  4. TBPA

    TBPA Well-known Member

    yeah as a welfare issue it is 20% of the horses weight, but the horses conformation must be taken into account a horse with a short coupled muscular back is able to carry more weight. A round horse will actually have less trouble carry any rider than a hollow backed one.
    I think if you want to compete at a higher level it will be easier on your horse if you are lighter therefore you will do better lighter. In dressage I know of some girls who have been larger that have gone to the higher levels but they are exceptionally balanced riders. So I think in dressage with a certain type of horse it is possible.

    But you forgot
    d) Jumping and galloping.
    Now this is where the larger rider will most limit their horse there is a reason why jockeys weigh 45kg the horse can go faster with less wieght the same said for jumping try hurdling with a huge backpack on its when you land that it will be the worst.
    The thing is if you want to make time and get over big fences you need to be lighter in the low levels it is not so important as you are not asking as much of the horse. I read an interview once about Blair Richardson it said that he was running to try and get his wieght down because he thought it would help him Xcountry (his wieght was about 70kg).
    And if you read any of the articles about george morris clinics he is always calling his riders fat (particularly the boys) because if you want to jump big it pays to be lighter.

    *#) off to the stairmaster for me :eek:
  5. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    20% rule is good but you really have to look at the amount of bone etc.

    EG. Jingles has 9Inches of bone and is a heavy horse, but doesn't have an overly wide barrel. me + saddle is under 60kg's though. My brother asked me if he could ride *#), and the simple answer was no. He is 6"4 and built like a brick outhouse! I think my horse could take it, but in a 16 inch saddle?

    Maybe in a bigger stock saddle for better weight distribution...

    Another point about jumping etc is where the weight is positioned through the saddle, a bit unfair on the horse (regardless of size) if you are a heavy weight. I also think horses with large riders will have more trouble bringing their back up.

    IMO - whether you are fat or thin, do your horse a favour and get fit and get some core strength. I do a 20 - 30 minute hard cardio session almost daily, because when I don't my riding sucks big time and Jings works totally different. I can imagine how hard it would be for a bigger rider! It is unfair to expect your horse to carry you and work when you are totally unfit yourself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2009
  6. speedshot

    speedshot New Member

    So true! weight is definately an issue but so is a rider that doesn't have good core muscle or any balance, the less of burden you make yourself for the horse to carry you, the more likely they are to travel better.
  7. Deb2

    Deb2 Guest

    Andhi, I thought your reply was absolutely the most inspiring thing I've read in a long time. I only didn't quote it because it was long, but it deserved quoting, thats for sure.

    I 100% agree with what you have said, and you are an inspiration to all, large or small!**)

    I guess going by the 20% rule (including saddle) I am a bit over the weight for little Shilo, but I think my balance is good, and as she is young, she only gets short sessions....and as she grows we will fit the criterier for 20%. I only hope when people see me riding her, they dont think I am being cruel....that would upset me.:(

    Perhaps I should use the lighter saddle (wintec stock)?

    Andhi, you have inspired be to loose another four kilos.:))
  8. ASH lover

    ASH lover Well-known Member

    Very interesting thread...

    Being a voluptuous girl myself I am constantly aware of how I ride as I realise if I am not moving with the horse I will interfere with the horses movement and cause physical stress on my horse (and on myself).
    I also think a blanket 20% rule is misleading and that the actual weight of the rider is less important than the way a rider rides. We have probably all seen 'big' girls that have great self carriage and are in perfect harmony with their horses...and smaller people that slop and bounce around in the saddle making life REALLY difficult for their horses.

    Obviously the combination of a heavier rider slopping and bouncing around would be a big problem - but I think there are so many things that influence the stress on a horse (horse fitness, rider fitness, riding conditions, build and confirmation of horse, level of training of the horse and rider, etc. etc.) that it is pretty much impossible to have a hard and fast rule.
  9. chanel

    chanel Well-known Member

    im a very thin person and everyone apart from my mate think im anorexic
    :(but im not i eat LOADS.but i think more stockier horses can carrier a bit more weight same with bigger horses.
  10. princeton

    princeton Well-known Member

    Well my pony and I are as fat and unfit as each other at the moment LOL *#)
  11. alex

    alex Well-known Member

    At my workplace the limit for riding weight is 80kg.
    but I definitely agree on the whole balance/self carraige of the particular rider.
  12. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    Being a heavy rider i always worry that people are looking at me.
    I've came to the conclusion people can go fly a kite lol.
    Obviously i'd never ride a smaller/fine built horse.. But i think i'm perfectly ok on a stocky horse.

    Didn't horses use to carry farming equipment? i'm sure most horses can carry 80kg alright.
    This is me on my mates 14.3hh horse.. i weigh over 80kg ;)
    I don't think he looks like his back is breaking (LOL i'm sure he'd like to think so but *#) hahaha)
  13. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    I worry more seeing heavier riders on young yet to fully mature horses, I worry a great deal seeing a young immature unbalanced horse being riden by a heavier rider.

    Im a lard arse I also ride a horse thats 700kg and built like Mack Truck, but I also dont ride her often or ask a great deal from her at this point in time.

    And cantering her is something I only do when she's willing to offer it and Im ready and balanced for it.

    The other side of the coin is that simply because I ride I am 20kg lighter and about 2cm taller for being straighter and stronger.

    I dont jump my horse with me riding her at all, full stop, I will leave that to younger thinner better riders lol.

    I will have to add here, I have ridden horses all my life, from what ever my wieght was growing up to my heaviest at 138kg, I have ridden, but I have always, well when I got FAT been very very carefull about what horse I rode, and what saddles I use.

    If you have a size 18 backside in a 15in saddle you will do damage to the horse.

    If you have a size 10 backside and you are flopping around in a size 18 saddle you will damage the horse, will take longer no doubt but the potential is there.

    If you have riden all your life and have gained weight, are a confident and balanced rider then you will have less impact on a horse than a lighter complete beginner that bounces all over the poor horse.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2009
  14. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    Pmsl.. now i'm worried..
    Do i look to big on him?
    I do small amounts of canter, and i jump every now and than (about 30cm-45cm)
  15. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    Lauren, IMO you could loose some weight and the horse could put some on, maby you can work out a swap lol
  16. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    Also I hate bad hands on a horse far worse than a fat rider. Everytime I see someone seesawing a horses mouth I just want to punch them off the horse, and insert the bit into their head and perform the same action of their back teeth.
  17. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    He's normally fat as!
    But his owner has got family stuff happening atm, and he's dropped a lil.
    He'll be back to being fat very soon i'm sure lol.

    Yep.. hence the diet.. which is so not going well..
  18. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    Sorrrrry.. i swear they aint ussually that bad.. It was his first show and i had just got on and was nervous.
  19. simbin

    simbin Gold Member

    Hehe same here.
  20. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    lol Lauren you tool, you know I wasnt talking about you lol

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