Horse Riding: Can Your Horse Carry Your Weight?

horses running in the field

Horse riding requires strength and balance. But other factors, like weight, also affect your riding experience. Excessive weight can stress out your horse after a long ride. Healthy horses are able to carry 15 to 20 percent of their weight. Scientists found carrying this weight showed little indication of stress to horses.

It’s Not Only About Your Weight

Your weight alone is not enough consideration when choosing the right horse. Riding a horse also requires certain equipment, which will add more weight to your horse’s load. Horses carrying more than 25 percent of their weight experience faster breathing and higher heart rate.

Scientists suggest horses should not carry over 20 percent of their body weight. For instance, a horse that weighs 545 kilograms should carry a maximum of 109 kg of tack and rider.

For hefty riders, choose a horse that’s big enough to carry your weight. Invest in lighter equipment, like shock-absorbing saddle pads, to minimize the weight that adds to a load of your horse.

Additionally, your height affects your ride. If you’re tall, make sure to ride a horse that has a solid build, so you’ll feel more comfortable. A shorter horse can make you unbalanced, making it harder for the animal to carry you.

girl riding a horse

What Type of Horse Should You Ride?

Horses come in different breeds and sizes. For heavier and taller riders, here are the three kinds of horses you may consider:

  • American Quarter Horse – this kind of horse originated in the USA, which is known for its ability to beat other horses in quarter mile races. It’s ideal for pleasure riding, and it can carry larger riders comfortably.
  • Icelandic Horse – although this type of horse is pony-sized, it’s still an excellent choice for larger riders. Historically, they served as draft horses on farms in Europe. This type of horse has a friendly and obedient nature, as well, so it’s easier to handle.
  • Norwegian Fjord Horse – this type of horse is one of the purest breeds. They are built to carry weight and an ideal choice for a larger woman of a short build. They are usually in brown dun except white and gray.

Once you found the right horse for your weight and height, make sure its age is enough to carry your load.

 Your Horse’s Age Matters

The stability of a horse’s joints and bones vary based on their age. Younger horses, for example, are still developing their joints and bones. Senior horses, on the other hand, may start developing bone problems. These factors affect their ability to carry weight.

Horses can live for more than 25 years with proper veterinary care. In rare cases, some horses can live up to 30 years. This animal doesn’t age at the same rate, however. The way you care for them affects their aging process. You should watch for signs your horse is aging, including:

  • Growing gray hair around the eyes
  • Looser skin tone
  • Choppier gait
  • Change in appetite

Horse riding is enjoyable. But that enjoyment quickly diminishes once your weight becomes a burden for your horse. Make sure the animal carries the right amount of load, which combines your body weight and your equipment’s weight.

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