Rider Weight?

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

  1. purplepony

    purplepony Active Member

    This rule was fazed out years ago, as it was considered that yhe horses carrying the dead weight of the lead were at a significant disadvanatge to those carrying just a rider above the required weight. (a rider can shift their weight when needed, the lead plates obviously could not) So it was ruled that a minimum weight requirement was not necessary to give a level playing field in the sport.

    Personally, I am alway amazed when I hear of people riding their horses 5-6 days a week. What about lunging? A horse is ultimately not made to carry any weight on it's back, and regardless of rider being over or under-weight this puts enormous stress on the horse's body, then we add in schooling, jumping and travelling at speed? Why not ride 3 days and lunge the rest and give your horse a break while maintaining the fitness and education?
  2. doofus

    doofus Well-known Member

    Springbok, that was so wonderfully worded!! **)
  3. princeton

    princeton Well-known Member

    Well said Esy :)
    I agree, unless it is a welfare issue.... It is no ones god given right to pass judgement or take it upon themselves to point out someone elses flaws.**)
    I would really love to know which riders have provoked this topic... Just so I can compare my waistline and know what I'm in for lol *#)
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  4. sambo

    sambo Well-known Member

    It is no ones job to tell someone that they are too fat or unfit to ride. How rude.:mad: I also know of "skinny" people who have trouble keeping up with their horses cross country!
  5. maxntaz

    maxntaz Well-known Member

    Very good point Andhi! **)
  6. ASH lover

    ASH lover Well-known Member

    I think springbok has it spot on...but it does then lead to the question about at what stage DOES it become a welfare issue...
    I keep thinking of the little Dartmoor ponies that (up until about the 1960's) used to take the miners to work across the moors everyday - these ponies are no taller than 13hh yet were very capable of carrying grown men for many miles everyday (and I think they also used to work all day in the mines - now that certainly WAS a welfare issue and the reason why it stopped in the ' 60's)
    The ponies were fitter than most recreational horses as they did far more work than we do with our horses and were as tough as nails - but based on the 20% rule it would be a 'welfare issue' that the miners rode them.

    As I said before it is difficult to put a hard a fast rule....but you can see when a horse is struggling to carry its rider... and that is when it becomes a welfare issue - regardless of the size of the rider, or horse/rider ratio.
  7. Smiley n Me

    Smiley n Me Gold Member

    I think this is a good topic with some great points that have been addressed.

    As a larger rider this is always something I face and am totally paranoid about!!!
    I would however never blame the horse for my faults and hopefully be aware if it was my weight that was hindering the horses performance.
    Oh I wish we could all be a perfect size... LOL
  8. Elanda

    Elanda Gold Member

    As a "fat chick" I am very conscious of how much weight my horse has to carry. I specifically bought a bigger boned, short coupled horse because of it. My horse is not young, but is green. I have also not ridden for a good many years, so am also conscious of my lack of core strength. It is very frustrating when you know what you want your body to do, but it just won't. I aim to be trim taut and terrific and am getting there:)*I do not have time to go to a gym but my new job is 5 hours a day physical work (lost 5kgs in the first week, so I hope that continues**)). I ride my horse very lightly, hopefully we can both build up our strength together:) I would, at this weight, not consider working him hard or jumping anything larger than a cavaletti (once he gets over his fear of trotting poles..lol). I would weigh about 20% of his body weight. As a few have said, it is about the welfare of the horse, those of us who are bigger need to keep that in mind when riding.
  9. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    You know, I just hard back to Genghis Khan and his warriors conquering the world not on horses, but on skinny little ponies.

    I also think that we also underestimate what horse can do, let face, most horses these days would not know an honest days work if it bit them.
  10. Elanda

    Elanda Gold Member

    I watched a Mongolian film last night on SBS (sad what you watch when you finish work at midnight:(), and those little ponies were hooking along with the men on them, elbows flapping in the wind, legs dangling to ponies knees. Ponies had ears pricked and seemed to handle it just fine:)*
  11. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    Yep, those ponies are tough as nails lol.

    You just have to look at what ponys used to do in the coal mines, you know we need to bring back coal mines to get the kids of the streets :)

    And a clydy working a plough all day and stage coach horses, mail ponys, todays horses like our kids get it soft.
  12. Freestyle

    Freestyle Well-known Member

    You cant actually think that these things were good for the horses and ponies involved? They would have had a terribly short working life I would imagine.

    This thread is about rider weight and whether or not it is a welfare issue. Personally I think (as a slim person) that if you are as careful with your own diet as what you are with your horse's diet, so you are healthy and fit enough to compete/ride at the level that you have chosen then it's fine.

    I often have a giggle at all the people who get on their high horse about feeding horses sweetbulk and other feeds, but who probably are sipping on a can of coke while they are typing their post!! *#)

    Being healthy has nothing to do with your size.
  13. shadowkat

    shadowkat Well-known Member

    "You cant actually think that these things were good for the horses and ponies involved? They would have had a terribly short working life I would imagine."

    I dunno Bec - a working horse would have been a very valuable piece of equipment, so it would be in the interest of the owner to look after it and ensure a long working life. I guess that ultimate level of care would depend on the owner - just like today - but I don't think we can assume that as a rule, working animals would have been flogged to an early death.

    I don't know why I always have to play devil's advocate to any argument! *#)
  14. himitsu

    himitsu Well-known Member

    Agree with Esy completely!!! well said!

    YES being overweight does affect your riding and horse's performance! Muscle movement can be controlled, fat movement cannot. So picture the rider sitting trot or canter for a moment. Lets imagine they can absorb the movement through their body very well. But if they are overweight the momentum of the movement in their fat (which remember you cant control) will cause part of the rider to be moving agaisnt the motion of the horse, so fat is still moving down with momentum when the horse's back starts moving up again = thus creating an impact/jarring and hindering the horse's ability to move freely. And that is assuming they have a good seat to start with.

    And of course the extra thickness of flesh would impact your position. A fat rider cannot get the contact with the horse that a thin one can simply because their fat is adding distance between their muscle and the horse (like sitting on a doona). It can also affect the balance of teh saddle, especially if a hands width cannot be fitted between ass and cantle - therefore making weight push down on loins. And then there is ability to hold arms in correct position - stores of fat can affect the angle of the arms and the not sitting deep in the saddle (as explained above) can also mean the elbow is higher and as such the angle of the arms steeper to be able to hold hands just above wither. And leg aids i imagine would be harder to apply too as they dont drape around horse the same as slender legs. I am not aiming this at anyone just making physical observations on how being overweight MIGHT impeed on riding performance.

    My coach is constantly watching her (tiny) weight because she knows the importance of staying in shape to maximise her riding performance. I do think it is only fair to do what you can to be fit for the job you expect your horse to do! and if you are not quite there yet then set your standards/goals a little lower so you are not expecting too much from your horse - it is a partnership afterall.

    I have old injuries that make some things hard for me. I have been nearly in tears at comps because my hip is making me nauseous. I cant take away that injury, but i have spent alot of time/money/effort improving my strength and flexability to try and reduce the hinderance. 12 months ago i physically couldnt put my left shoulder back (was always sitting as if in shoulder-in right) but now that i have had heaps of Feldenkrais/pilates/physio etc its better. I also had trouble dropping my hip, lower back pain making it harder to sit/absorb the movement properly etc and in a sport like dressage it can definatly affect the horse (which is why my coach referred me to feldenkrais). I weigh like 50kg (havent weighed myself in a while but id say about that) and that is a purposeful increas from around 45kg last year. So its NOT just a weight thing that affects the performance of horses!

    It was so interesting watching the video from Saturday's competition - 3 young riders of similar level riding the same horse in the same test. I felt that each rider (me included) had good and bad points with the way they allowed the horse to move. Its amazing how much a change in rider can affect the horse's movement! One rider had proppy/stiff changes with the horse whilst the others had more flowing changes. One rider made the horse's canter a bit too short and almost 4 beat due to it not moving forward enough. One rider rode the extended trot with much more cadence and elevation. And the one rider got a much better quality of higher collection prior to pirouettes then the others. All the same horse in the same test! What a fantastic way to improve your riding - watch someone else ride your horse and compare with video of you riding same horse! I know ive got alot to work on after watching it!

    So really weight is only one issue here. But yes it is a valid one.

    And in the long run, (unless it is a wellfare issue) it is NOONE ELSE'S BUSINESS!!! Its my own problem is my lack of flexiability, abdominal strength, balance, coordination, feel, or my huge guts decrease the quality of my riding and therefore the performance of my horse! Its has nothing to do with judges, spectators, officials, other competitors etc. If you want like it dont watch. HOWEVER i dont think anyone should get offended by a coach/judge/friend making a subtle and constructive comment about any aspect of your riding, including weight. When a judge says im making it hard for my horse by sitting crooked i dont get offended. if they said im making it hard for my horse because im unfit i shouldnt get offended either - you pay for their opinion.

    I think horse riding is a great way to stay active and fit. As someone said earlier - riding enough to get the horse to a competetive level and the running around to look after them sure does help! So good on anyone who wants to ride to improve their health/fitness!

    Ramble over LOL!
  15. Sharaway

    Sharaway Guest

    Not serious about sending ponys back down the mines Bec, But dead set serious that some kids should be **)

    A longer life doesnt mean a better more meaningful life either.

    When horses have been seen as everything from treasured gifts from the gods to sacrificial items to other gods and from friend to food. You really have to be careful about how much we westeners romanticise horses.

    And its still on the subject of wieght, historically horses have been asked to carry for more weight, pull far more wieght and do far more work than they are asked to do these days.
  16. Horseagilitywa

    Horseagilitywa Well-known Member

    Beautifully said Blitzen.

    Even at my Skinnest, still 80kgs at only 157cms, I was running 6kms, 5 times a week (training for trialthlon, used to do em alot), trot work for 4 racehorse, and working my own slub of an OTTB.
    I was studying Natropathy and Massage therapy, and living on bugga all (had to feed horse, cat, dog and pay fees ;-), so lived on not alot, it was great.

    But now

    Now at 107kgs, (I walk with OH), I hate myself, but can't seem to have the energy to get back into it. How the hell do I get back there. Just can't seem to get it together like I did once.
    Won't get on my young horse again until I drop at least 15kgs, thats my goal.... but... so hard ;-)

    Will get there or I may as well sell my horse and well i don't wanna do that.
  17. Possum

    Possum New Member

    I think what we need to remember is that horses are flight animals and were never designed to carry weight on their back.

    If one is causing discomfort to a horse, the horse will let one know either very subtly from not standing still when one is wanting to mount through to the obvious of trying to buck one off every time something is aked.

    Unfortunately I have seen quite a few people on horses that aren't able to cope with their weight especially ottb that are 3 yo, and these horses have definately shown their discomfort to the riders but for some reason these signs are ignored.

    At the end of the day it's the horses' comfort that is the most important and thats what counts, I think it becomes an issue with welfare when the horse is in pain / discomfort and a blind eye is being turned.

    The more intense work you want from the horse (jumping,racing etc) the lighter you should be.
  18. InkibahD

    InkibahD Well-known Member

    Wow what a thread!
    well i have a little to say
    U used to ride competitively(eventing) and for work(racehorses) untill i was 18 and i used to weigh about 55kg now at 5'3 Thats in my opinion now was a graet weight(even though then i thought i was fat) but now i weigh about 70kg which for some doesnt seem much but i have lost weight i was up to 76. now for me that was a huge difference and noing what that difference felt like. oh and id like to mention i stopped riding competitively from 18 and stop riding racehorses just after i turned 19. but when i started riding again in december 07 i felt so unco, and things that never used to hurt hurt like hell...... riding has helped me loose a bit but i doubt ill ever get back to my 55kg...anyway point..i feel im a better rider now then i was at 18 and in terms of being puffed after xc im actually less puffed yet i way 15 kg more....
    I dont belive its nesesarily to do with weight of sucess its fitness and proportion. as some of the girls have said on here if they are slightly heavier they ride a bigger/stronger horse. I do belive that many people are to critical and i hope im not copming accross as that......i just mean horses can handle alot more then we think and their are weight restrictions i think in PC its a 12.2h pony cant be ridden by somone more the 60kg in competition.

    Ok im still rambling i will come to a point

    people that a cruel and blame there horse for something that is not its fault will be cruel and blame their horse no matter what their weight is! so its not that the person is to big for the horse its that they dont have the right personality to be riding a horse in the first place!

    Ok im sorry if this rant made no sence...im having a complete brain fart today
  19. buggalugs

    buggalugs Well-known Member

    the rule is 12.2hh pony can only be ridden by a rider 53kg and under...
  20. mav

    mav Well-known Member

    ok. i have to say that yes i agree with some points here, and yes i disagree with some. i think esy and himitsu are correct too in the fact that you dont know what is affecting the riders ability so you cannot make rash judgements...

    i used to be the 'thin' rider - you know the one that could eat like a horse, not do too much excercise and still fit into a size 8 joddy. now that i have had kids and the last one being only almost 4 months ago i am no longer that thin person. i am now a more curvy, more busty HOT MAMA!!! yes i gained weight while pregnant and i havent lost it yet. yes i have started riding again and the first time i got on i thought i was going to fall off at a walk due to lack of core muscle. and yes i know i will eventually get there and loose it because i feel uncomfortable in my own skin now (not even just when riding). however i will never aim to be that thin girl again - i want to be a fit and healthy, curvy and hot woman!! woman have curves and boobs and bums and thats just the way it is. we are all built differently and have all got a pretty good idea on our faults, our horses abilities and what we are willing to do to fix them...

    BUT if a random person was to come up and tell me i was too fat for my horse i would slap them stupid!! how could you dare to make a judgement about someone you dont know!! how could anyone comment on things they have no idea about - wether i eat all the wrong things, sit on my butt all day and do nothing or if i have a medical/physical reason why i am like that is noone business but mine.
    yes i understand that it could impede on a horses well being but dont you think us "fat chicks" get that??!! dont you think that we would do anything to be those skinny little waifs that people judge to be 'perfect' just to stop the stares and ridicule and whatnot...

    personally i think seeing people out there competing on ponies when their feet are almost on the ground is cruel and ridiculus BUT i also know that there are reasons behind it. i would never assume that i know best and to tell them they are underhorsed.... its none of my business!!

    novel over :)

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