Rider weight

Ale

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
7,978
6,463
113
Saw this come up on Facebook. I don't know the research behind it but just thought it might me something else interesting to talk about. Either yay or neigh. Screenshot_2018-12-10-20-13-36.png
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,179
10,414
113
38
Suffolk, UK
Interesting, I'd like to see the full study and why at the end they specifically state bigger riders should choose a longer backed horse for a bigger saddle.... Is a bigger saddle implicated for weight alone even if you're short enough to fit in a smaller saddle? I also wonder if the horses normally carried this weight or if there was a sudden increase (not allowing for physical adaptation). I'll have a poke about tomorrow when I'm on a proper computer.
 

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
If it's the study I've read about before it was an extremely small sample of riders & horses which immediately means that it isn't a good study.

My personal view - based on no scientific tests or studies but from watching horses - is that there are far more factors than just weight. I know I've said it before but I was amazed a few years at how much harder my welsh cob found it to carry a very small light rider who was unbalanced than he does to carry me, despite the fact that according to many of the percentages quoted nowadays I'm heavier than he should carry. And as @Jessey said there's also the issue of is the horse used to carrying this weight & so - hopefully - muscled up accordingly, and also used to the rider's balance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
A while ago there was a study saying elite performance horses shouldn't carry more than 10% of their ideal weight, I thought this was very interesting given how many top class riders in all disciplines are men. What would an average weight for a normally built & sized fit man be, surely at least 12 stone including riding clothes & boots I'd say. Well at 10% a 12 stone rider should be riding a horse with an ideal weight of 762kg & that's a seriously substantial horse - certainly not the type you'd see top level eventing or showjumping nowadays & probably a lot of high level dressage horses wouldn't make that either. Even saying 10 stone is 635kg and again you'd probably struggle to find many. I pity the endurance riders!!!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trewsers and Jessey

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
50,461
10,346
113
49
On an island
Mr T wold technically probably require a shire horse fit and muscled and no less than 18hh!!! :p I don't think Zi struggles with him at all:)I think these studies are not always accurate or all that realistic.
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,179
10,414
113
38
Suffolk, UK
So I think it was the study detailed here http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-xmodnewsrss_detail/riderweightratiostudymarch2018.html
It was conducted locally to here and they asked for people to loan their sound horses to be ridden by their riders.

It was a very small study, just 6 horses and 4 riders (one in each weight category), each horse ridden in it's own tack (so not nec. fitting the rider and clearly not in at least 1 instance) and the horses not nec. accustomed to the weight, they do acknowledge it is a pilot study.

Quoted from the attached - The results do not mean that heavy riders should not ride but suggest that if they do they should ride a horse of appropriate size and fitness, with a saddle that is correctly fitted for both horse and rider.

Personally I think SRT are jumping the gun a bit to put a number to this based on the findings of this study alone, especially a Dr Sue Dyson has been clear further research is required. Maybe I found the wrong study, its the only one I can see done recently in collaboration with SRT tho.
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

Ale

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
7,978
6,463
113
Yes far too small a sample size to prove or disprove anything!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
@Jessey that sounds like the one I was thinking of, and to me it isn't a big enough sample and has too many additional influences to be of any use - it would be like comparing me & the 6yo on my cob and saying a light rider has a negative effect on soundness!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey

OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
7,297
2,176
113
Raininghamshire
I find this really tough and I think there needs to be proper research in to it.

I agree that a larger rider would need a saddle that fits both horse and rider and that may mean a horse with a longer back to take the seat size required. However, a longer back can be weaker.

I also think that a good larger rider can be better then a unbalanced lighter beginner but again a lighter rider will not make a horse lame due to the weight having to be carried. Just as a larger rider even a good one can still make the horse lame as weight is weight.

Horse fitness is a huge factor and not just a larger horse for a larger rider and this also means over weight horse for larger rider this is not correct.

A fitter horse will be able to carry a larger rider but that does not make it ok either

Does that make any sense at all

Sorry tough day took much wine and peanuts
 
Last edited:

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
6,435
3,117
113
Yorkshire
I find this really tough and I think there needs to be proper research in to it.

I agree that a larger rider would need a saddle that fits both horse and rider and that may mean a horse with a longer back to take the seat size required. However, a longer back can be weaker.

I also think that a good larger rider can be better then a unbalanced lighter beginner but again a lighter rider will not make a horse lame due to the weight having to be carried. Just as a larger rider even a good one can still make the horse lame as weight is weight.

Horse fitness is a huge factor and not just a larger horse for a larger rider and this also means over weight horse for larger rider this is not correct.

A fitter horse will be able to carry a larger rider but that does not make it ok either

Does that make any sense at all

Sorry tough day took much wine and peanuts
Makes sense to me, mind I have had my first Christmas port(s) of the season, and pistachio nuts. Might just be on the same wavelength ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,179
10,414
113
38
Suffolk, UK
I find this really tough and I think there needs to be proper research in to it.

I agree that a larger rider would need a saddle that fits both horse and rider and that may mean a horse with a longer back to take the seat size required. However, a longer back can be weaker.

I also think that a good larger rider can be better then a unbalanced lighter beginner but again a lighter rider will not make a horse lame due to the weight having to be carried. Just as a larger rider even a good one can still make the horse lame as weight is weight.

Horse fitness is a huge factor and not just a larger horse for a larger rider and this also means over weight horse for larger rider this is not correct.

A fitter horse will be able to carry a larger rider but that does not make it ok either

Does that make any sense at all

Sorry tough day took much wine and peanuts
I think that all makes sense, I just don't think a study of 6 horses is enough to prove it in scientific terms, especially when the tack didn't necessarily fit each rider and horses weren't necessarily fit/acclimatised to the rider.
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

HaloHoney

Well-Known Member
Apr 30, 2017
557
668
93
39
Apparently saddle too small = rider putting too much weight on cantle of saddle, which then puts most of weight on wrong bit of back of horse, causing pain.

I think the purpose of this small study was to add gravity to the anecdotal evidence suggesting riders can indeed be too heavy for their horse, and as such a much wider study would be worth pursuing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ale

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
I tend to see it as wasting money proving the obvious! The thing is there are so many factors in play I tend to feel it's impossible to come up with a sensible % that people seem to be looking for, instead people should use commonsense & observation of what's in front of them. Examples based on mine: 1) I wouldn't ride a 16hh tb that was the same weight as my 14.2 cob, the conformation would be such that it wouldn't be up to the job 2) I wouldn't put an unbalanced or novice rider the same weight as me on my cob, indeed he's so unused to being ridden by a novice that I suspect he'd be unhappy with even a very light one 3) I wouldn't ride my cob in a saddle I wasn't sure about the fit of (ok, goes for any horse really but as the rider gets heavier it becomes more of a factor) 4) I wouldn't take him for a day hunting, I'd feel that was asking too much. I could go on, but I'm sure the idea is clear & shows why trying to give a fixed % of bodyweight is never going to be a sensible approach.
 

HaloHoney

Well-Known Member
Apr 30, 2017
557
668
93
39
I think the problem is, unless there is a study done, there are a certain number of horse riders who are riding inappropriately sized horses for their weight/skill level, who won’t listen. Without quantifying the bleeding obvious, these people are always going to trot out the “BUT *MY* HORSE IS FINE.” Line. For a thousand different reasons.

If there is quantifiable evidence from scientifically conducted studies, then I think those people can be made to listen, and put their horse’s welfare first.

If your horse’s welfare is at the centre of everything you do for them, then I think you’re probably not one of the people who need to pay attention to such a study...
 

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
But likewise they could use the "I'm within xx% so I'm fine" line when the horse clearly isn't coping for whatever reason. The need, in my opinion, is to educate people not just give them a meaningless figure.
 

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,179
10,414
113
38
Suffolk, UK
Apparently saddle too small = rider putting too much weight on cantle of saddle, which then puts most of weight on wrong bit of back of horse, causing pain.

I think the purpose of this small study was to add gravity to the anecdotal evidence suggesting riders can indeed be too heavy for their horse, and as such a much wider study would be worth pursuing.
I don't think the study was designed to be small.

I agree with your first paragraph there, as did Dr Dyson, but the conclusions publicised at this event we're that the rider weight made the horses lame, the fact the bigger riders were riding in saddles not fitted to them and on horses not physically acclimatised to carrying that weight appears to have been disregarded as they came up with a % weight based on this study alone. Now if each rider had ridden the horse for 3 months and had their own saddle fitted and the horses didn't cope then yes you could perhaps conclude it was weight alone causing the problems.
 

diplomaticandtactful

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2003
10,678
370
83
Pathetically useless study, tells you nothing at all based on that sample - I used to work in market research, this would be laughed at for being so unrepresentative.

If you use the 10% weight ratio, then I am too heavy for Buddy, if you use the 15% ratio I am at the top end of what he can carry. He is a sturdy 16hh shire cross, with an 18 inch saddle, which is regularly checked, and I ride light.

Of course, if I let him gain more weight, then he would technically be able to carry me easier but in fact would find it harder. He has lost around 40kg this year as I have changed him onto full forage/fibre and managed to get more work into him.
I don't think the study was designed to be small.

I agree with your first paragraph there, as did Dr Dyson, but the conclusions publicised at this event we're that the rider weight made the horses lame, the fact the bigger riders were riding in saddles not fitted to them and on horses not physically acclimatised to carrying that weight appears to have been disregarded as they came up with a % weight based on this study alone. Now if each rider had ridden the horse for 3 months and had their own saddle fitted and the horses didn't cope then yes you could perhaps conclude it was weight alone causing the problems.
I bet if you went to any yard and checked saddles there would be plenty that don't fit. when I got Buddy, I had to have my saddle adjusted and wait a month for saddler, as I wasn't happy with it when I first rode him so I stopped. We began working at 15 minutes as I hadn't ridden in 8 years and now we ride every day for 30 minutes weather permitting and more at weekends and then 5-6 mile fun rides when we can find them. He carries me fine, has never been lame, and when we found he had a small rub under his saddle, the osteo found it was due to him being unlevel on one side and adjusted his pelvis and hinds, and hasn't rubbed since. It was interesting to see the correlation and the saddler had commented on it, we changed the numnah as well and keep an eye on it. I actually think the 18 inch saddle is bit big for me but I manage with it. He is full of energy and we keep an eye on his back all the time. But if you go simply on the weight ratios they quote then at 10% I am too heavy for him.
 

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
6,685
2,229
113
I don't think the study was designed to be small.

I agree with your first paragraph there, as did Dr Dyson, but the conclusions publicised at this event we're that the rider weight made the horses lame, the fact the bigger riders were riding in saddles not fitted to them and on horses not physically acclimatised to carrying that weight appears to have been disregarded as they came up with a % weight based on this study alone. Now if each rider had ridden the horse for 3 months and had their own saddle fitted and the horses didn't cope then yes you could perhaps conclude it was weight alone causing the problems.
That would be a better study, but I still don't think it would give a % of bodyweight figure, simply because I think a % of bodyweight is a meaningless guide. Again going back to mine as I know him (and rounding up to 400kg for ease/laziness lol), a 400kg 14.2 welsh D has a very different weight carrying ability to a 400kg 16hh tb. Now according to those quoting 10% you'd be looking at a weight of just over 6 stone - I don't know how they'd fair on the imaginary tb, but God help them on my cob if they go faster than a walk (and if they stayed in walk he'd probably go for a graze :rolleyes:), also most riders that weight are children & while he's fine as an occasional child's ride he isn't really a child's pony. Up it to 15% we're getting 9.4 stone all in, which he'd find very easy but would probably be getting close to the limit of what I'd want on the fictional tb. At 20% and 12.6 stone my cob is still laughing & acting the fool while I would have said too heavy for the tb & not allowed the rider on. However if any of these weights had been unbalanced my cob would have quickly looked lame.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jessey