Who can ride a 12.3 DHP?


New Member
Jul 3, 2021
Hi, first time poster (and a first time owner!). Posting here because I've seen my girl's same age herdmate being ridden by her owner today and it got me thinking about mine.

I have a DHP mare who turned 3 last month. I'm not planning on backing her for a good while yet (if at all, the plan was to have her driving instead). She measured 12.3 today and has 10 inches of bone on her fronts - the muscle on her is insane and I can post pictures tomorrow if it would be helpful. I've shown her to people who work with the Dartmoor breed professionally and before being told she's a DHP they've said she's the 'perfect example of her breed'. IMO she's probably crossed with another sturdy native. Her farrier and vet thinks she might make 13hh and that she'll probably be able to carry 12st safely. When she was 2 she was measured as having a 14inch seat.

With all this in mind, I'm crap at maths and have no idea what kind of rider - taking tack weight into account as well - she'd carry happily, so I'm asking what do you think you'd be comfortable putting on her?


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
It depends is the answer.

I wouldn't wan any youngster carrying the same weight as a mature horse. When I was a kid (and that was long before this obsession with rider weight) a rough rule was that a well put together, substantial native could carry a stone per hand as long as the rider was reasonably capable. I suspect that nowadays that may cause some comment. In reality rider size may be limited by the size of saddle a native can take, it's hard to fit a 13stone rider in a 15" saddle.

I still think the best guide of all is whether the horse seems happy with the size and weight of the rider.
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Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2014
My native is 13.2hh and I'm 5'6, so it is possible.

A general guide is a maximim of 20% of their ideal weight but personally I'm much happier with 15% ( or as close to as possible)..Just because they can take more, it doesn't IMHO mean they have to.

I'd want significantly less than that for the backing & riding away process though until she has developed significant top line and core strength to help support a rider.

Saddle fitting wise, there are options - AHS and native pony company saddles would be a good starting point. But, I've recently gone treeless and am a big convert - it's so much lighter too!
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Well-Known Member
Nov 11, 2018
Mines a 13hh cob, I'm 5'2 ish and lightweight- ish. In fairness, my present boy could carry a lot more than my finer old boy at 13hh 3, though he too could have carried heavier than me. I agree with the general rule, that if the horse is happy enough, then the weight is probably ok. Pictures are helpful, and everyone loves seeing them anyway!
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