“Am I too fat to ride a horse?”

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heavy-rider

Maybe, maybe not. A “scientific study” has concluded that a horse cannot comfortably carry more than 10 percent of its own weight. I have been looking for the punch line ever since: obviously this is a joke! This would mean 80 percent of the people riding horses today are too fat!

According to The US Cavalry Manual of Horse Management (1941) a horse should not carry more than 20 percent of its own weight. This edict was routinely exceeded, soldier and equipment regularly weighing 250lb.

Researchers at Duchy College, in Cornwall, England, studied horse impact from 50 riders executing 45-minute workouts and they too came up with the 20 percent recommendation. This was ascertained by monitoring the release of creatine kinase, an enzyme present in the muscle and released into the blood to restore muscle damage. This enzyme is triggered when an increasing heart rate releases plasma lactate to levels the horse’s body cannot metabolize.

Of course, the scientists noted that impact on the horses varied greatly. Those with wider loins and thicker cannon bones recovered more quickly. Experienced riders know the fit of the saddle is vital.

For most of the 5000 years men have been riding horses they have used them to go places to kill each other. Pleasure riding, as we know it today, is barely 100 years old!

The earliest warriors rode bareback and all their horses were sore within three days. As weapons and armor increased in weight, so did the structure needed to carry them on the back of a horse. Attila the Hun was the first to use a saddle in war, around 440, figuring spreading the bearing weight over a greater area would make the horse less sore. He was a PSI pioneer!

Attila stole this idea from the Sarmatian women warriors (400 BC) who built a wooden “casing” on a horse so they would not be ejected when they ran a lance through an enemy ground soldier. They invented mounted lance warfare, these women who were feared above all other warriors. They cut off their right breast so they could more easily pull a bow. The Greeks founded the Amazon legend on the Sarmatians, with whom they became aquainted as traders.

Next, Attila stole a stirrup the Chinese used as a mounting aid during the same period. Amazingly it took 800 years for somebody (Attila) to think of putting a second stirrup on the other side!

The Romans soon visited Attila’s discovery but were quick to establish weight limits.  “Cloak bags” were not to weigh more than 35lb, saddles not more than 56lb.  Add this to 200lb of an average armed warrior and the Roman war horse carried 300lb, well over 30 percent of horse weight. Still, they conquered the world.

Over the next thousand years weight increased even more. Knights of old were actually lowered on their horses with pulleys, after two men fitted the saddle.

Advance to the South African War (1899-1902) the average weight of an Allied solider with equipment was around 320 lbs. For the British Desert Mounted Corps in Palestine and Syria (1917-18) the typical weight carried was 290lb, “all day and every day,”  according to saddle historian Major G. Tylden.

Hitler had the most mechanized army the world had ever seen, yet he had three million horses under his command. They carried 250lb to protect his Tiger Tanks.

For the war in Afghanistan, I saddled 130 horses for the US Special Ops, also designing scabbards for their M4s. Those horses packed 250lb.

Today, for the first time in the long man/horse partnership we are not eating them or causing them to die in battle. We are actually enjoying them and, I like to believe, they are enjoying us.

Ironically, all this feel-good stuff has happened when humans have grown substantially. In the last 50 years we have outgrown airplane seats, cars, furniture and houses.  When I started putting Americans in Australian stock saddles in 1979 the average seat size (Australian) was 16”. Today it is 17” and rising.

But the horse has not changed. Clearly, humans and horse are on a weight-impact collision course.

heavy-rider2The good news is people are asking themselves: am I too fat to ride?

I consider reality rather than scientists, who can crunch numbers and come up with any result they want to push an agenda. I suspect much of the weigh-impact-on-horse dialogue is advanced by people who do not want us to do anything with animals other than look at them. It is easy to imagine that in 200 years humans riding animals will be illegal. And we won’t be looking at them in zoos either. Zoos will be banned. We will view them “virtually.”

Another likely agenda is the persuasive prejudice modern cultures have toward fat people. They are discriminated against in jobs, social situations and almost any human interaction. Except in China, where fat people are admired!

Meanwhile, horse lovers are taking note. Bayard Fox, owner of Equitours , sends people to dozens of countries to ride horses – but he has a weight limit of 200lb. Still, he does not chisel that in stone, explaining: “In actuality, we have felt that some riders weighing 210 pounds were easier for horses to carry than others weighing only 175 pounds.”

Bottom line: riders who move with a horse are “lighter” than people of the same weight who “ride like a sack of potatoes”.

There is a popular misconception that big people should ride big horses. The reality is that smaller horses can carry a higher proportion of their own weight than bigger horses. In the trench warfare of World War 1 Connemara ponies carried half their body weight all day long. Mules and donkeys do the same today.

Endurance rider Ed Anderson rode his 14.3 hand 900-lb Arabian gelding Primo 2000 miles from Mexico to Canada carrying up to 275lb  – around 36 per cent of the horse’s body weight. “I went solo and unsupported,” he says. “Primo had no problems.”

But as Dr Gary Carlson DMV cautions: “Every extra pound a horse has to carry from point A to point B requires that much more energy.”

As a member of the American Endurance Ride Conference’s Veterinary Committee, Dr Carlson knows reality.

For questions or comments, email Colin on tassc@aol.com or call 818 8896988.

Colin Dangaard is founder and President of the Australian Stock Saddle Company, launched with his wife Linda Fox in 1979. They were the first to bring the Australian stock saddle to the USA.

» Read Colin’s profile

58 thoughts on ““Am I too fat to ride a horse?”

  • August 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm
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    No way, I had 27lbs too much before I did the “Loaded Gun Diet ” and I had my riding lessons every morning.

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    • June 27, 2017 at 4:38 am
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      EVERYONE CAN RIDE A HORSE BUT MUST FIRST FIGURE THE HORSES WEIGHT, THEN DIVIDE BY 4. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE SURE THAT YOUR HORSE IS 4 times YOUR WEIGHT, TO HAVE THE PROPER HORSE. THAT SURES UP THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT ENDANGERING THE HORSE AT THAT TIME OR DOWN THE ROAD. WHEN RENTING HORSES IN MEXICO AND ALASKA, IF THEY DID NOT HAVE THE PROPER WEIGHT HORSE FOR THE RIDER, THE RIDER WAS TURNED AWAY.

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    • August 28, 2017 at 9:34 am
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      What is the loaded Gun Diet? Never heard of that one ,is it a joke ?

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  • August 19, 2015 at 4:02 am
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    >Over the next thousand years weight increased even more. Knights of old were actually lowered on their horses with pulleys, after two men fitted the saddle.

    This is a common misunderstanding. This was only done for a very small time for tournaments. Tournament armor was much heavier than battlefield armor (after all who wants to be killed at a sporting event) and the horse would be carrying the rider for only a short time.

    A knights armor (called harness) usually weighed between 40 and 80 lbs depending on the time period (lightest early [due to less armor] and late period [due to better technology]).

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    • April 25, 2019 at 10:49 pm
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      indeed, though even for tournaments cranes were not used, and even the really heavy 60 kg armours can be mounted from the floor in an emergency.

      usually a mounting block was used when avaiblable, and 16th century riding treatises talk about training the horse to come to the block.

      knights mounting are actually fairly commonly depicted, even in italian armour of the 15th century, that, including the mail, could top 100-120 lbs fairly easily.

      we quite commonly perform canter pirouettes and even high school movements wearing reproductions of these and the horses are perfectly fine. (coincidentally meets the 20% standard usually)

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  • August 19, 2015 at 10:41 am
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    Every pound carried requires more energy. That is true from the very first pound. It isn’t a cautionary tale. If energy is the only issue, then advances in nutrition should cover for the issues.

    And no discussion of how the horse is ridden- a well schooled horse, using his abdominal muscles to support his back can carry weight much better than one that is hollow and strung out. That is the real story. When horses had better schooling they could withstand the extra weight.

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    • January 7, 2018 at 9:49 pm
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      Callie said “No discussion of how a horse is ridden excellent point! -A happy horse, in their comfort zone has an elevated back that can carry weight with strength and ease. A horse with a hollow back is in discomfort with a rider on and eventually is in excruciating pain. I find it “interesting” that most pictures of a horse and rider depict a horse with a saggy back, in discomfort if not in outright pain – it’s THAT normal for people to not even notice. The photos in this article are of gobsmackingly generous horses who should have bucked the riders off and that has not so much to do with the riders weight, as the fact that the horse has not been prepared for that weight. Google me Jenny Pearce, Happiness and Well Being for Horse and Rider I have an excellent video entitled “Does riding hurt my horses back”.

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      • August 9, 2019 at 3:39 pm
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        Much about weight on a horse has to do with your capacity to sit well so your weight is balanced..this will make a much better ride for you both !
        A very important part about riding !!

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    • August 13, 2019 at 11:58 pm
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      Yes, you can be too fat to ride a horse. Each time you bounce back on the horses spine it equates to 300lbs of thrust plus your weight. If you think your too fat you’ve already answered your own question.

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  • August 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm
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    Fat people are not admired in China. Ed Anderson wasn’t that heavy. Your facts are way off.

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    • June 4, 2018 at 4:21 pm
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      When you ride 2000 miles alone on a horse you pack stuff with you.

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  • August 20, 2015 at 6:52 am
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    People were around 5ft 2″ in the past and food was not available like today. We are taller and heavier so the small ponies are too small for the majority of adults and hprses are being bred bigger to accommodate us. Big bottoms on slim horses does not look right either.

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  • August 20, 2015 at 11:27 am
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    This article has no mention of the long term impacts excessive weight has on a horses joints, bones or overall health. Common sense tells you that just because a horse CAN carry a heavy weight, over time the excessive pressure and wear and tear will cause problems such as chronic pain and soreness, early arthritis, lameness, spinal issues and more. Carrying someone on their back is very unnatural for a horse and they should be conditioned, trained and only ridden using well-fitted tack and always given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to obese riders or very large loads.

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    • January 15, 2019 at 10:32 am
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      I agree, Michelle. Just because a horse CAN, does not mean it SHOULD or that it is not harmful. Yes, horses have been carrying heavy weights for ages. Horses have also been developing arthritis, kissing spine, hoof problems, soft-tissue injuries etc. for ages. Caring owners/riders want to minimize any pain or damage to their horses, and thus need to think about factors like their own weight vs. what their horse can safely carry. I actually sold a lovely little horse of mine who was essentially perfect in every way other than that he was small and narrow with a slightly long back, and I had gained weight during the five years I owned him. Though he seemed to “be fine”, I didn’t feel it was fair to him to force him to carry me, so I sold him to a wonderful lady who was quite a bit lighter than myself. My current horse is not tall, but built like a tank with fabulous bone and a very strong, broad, short back (a mustang from Devil’s Garden, CA — get yourself one if you are looking for this type of horse!). I feel that I am unlikely to harm him, so feel much better riding him.

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    • April 25, 2019 at 10:58 pm
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      horses are heavily domesticated, so is it unnatrual for them to be ridden, as they are genetically engineered to be ridden, after all?

      studies showing muscles strain and massive studies from early 20th century military trials show long term health only deteriorating over 20-25% of the horses weight, depending on the distance traveled in the workload of the day.

      (American military takes 20% but travels further and European armies take 25% but travel less far with it)

      this still outreaches the regular working day of most horses today.

      the shape in which a horse is ridden ( the quality of the dressage, if you will) is a major factor, as is equipment fit,

      so long term effects have been assessed, mostly to save money on the million horses enrolled in the German army just before the Great War.

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  • August 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm
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    This one statement is completely inaccurate:

    >Over the next thousand years weight increased even more. Knights of old were actually lowered on their >horses with pulleys, after two men fitted the saddle.

    As a jouster, and the U.S. Delegate to the International Medieval Combat Federation’s ‘historical authenticity’ committee, I can tell you that this is a pure Hollywood fabrication. Knights were, first and foremost, soldiers. If they could not mount without assistance they were pretty useless if unhorsed. I can mount from the ground in my joust armor with no problem.

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  • August 21, 2015 at 1:45 am
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    It would be nice if we could have a formula for this (weight of rider vs. weight of horse) but it is not that simple of course. An important part of this issue is the long term impact of weight bearing on the horse’s structure. There are some recent studies coming out on the condition of the horse’s back due to riding and speed, and also some research coming out on detecting pain in horses (unfortunately, something we are not good at, as a rule). So to simplify this to a percent of the horse’s weight is not the answer. Rider ability, the build of the horse, the fitness of the horse, the balance of the load, the speed of the horse, fit of the saddle, how long the horse will be ridden each time and over the years with that weight/speed and many other factors are important here as part of the discussion for the welfare of the horse. Thoroughbred horses are ridden by very light individuals but can have serious back conditions as shown by the research done the vertebral column. The percentage of rider weight vs. horse weight can be helpful of course but does not provide the complete answer to prevent problems for the horse.

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  • August 23, 2015 at 1:51 pm
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    This article raises some challenging points. However, most of the cited examples are incomplete because they have no follow up as to the effect on the horse. To follow these examples as sound reasoning would be like saying that there was no point in reforms for industrial safety because after all people have worked in mines and sweatshops for well over 100 years. Yes, people have engaged in hard physical work for centuries but yes, they were and are often crippled by it if the work overtaxes joints and muscles. The fact that the horse can carry a certain weight without collapsing does not mean that it is either comfortable or healthy for the animal. One English study evaluated the effect of the weight of well-trained riders in a standardized “riding lesson” format. The people that conducted the study evaluated the horses for soreness in the back. That’s more convincing than partial anecdotes without any supporting reference. It is worth remembering also that work and cavalry horses were expected to wear out (and be sent to slaughter) at what we would consider a relatively young age. When I was young, few buyers wanted horses over 8 and a 20 year old was considered ancient.
    Here is my personal experience — I put a sweet, but obese woman on my 16 h. 1000lb. TB in an well-fitting Aussie saddle. She admitted to weighing 232 pounds. The horse sagged at the knees when she mounted using a mounting block but carried her through a half hour lesson at walk and trot. She had ridden a lot and had even taught riding at summer camps but she was unfit. After three lessons, the horse visibly dreaded her appearance at the barn. Could he physically carry her? Sure. Are any of my horses now carrying someone over 200 lbs? No unless that person is an excellent horseman.
    And the “this must be from some animal rights extremist” bogeyman argument is used by many people who want the freedom to mistreat their animals. “Gosh if they make me provide my horse with food and water or won’t let me beat it to death, pretty soon they’ll outlaw riding altogether.” Feeble, very feeble, especially as the author has no evidence of any bias on the part of the authors.

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    • October 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm
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      The difference between the mine workers and horse riders is that the workers were almost all, obviously sickened and/or has obvious physical ailments from their work.
      People who ride horses these days who others say are too fat to ride them, are not in most cases in any way, harming the horse.
      You can see that the horses can carry the weight and are still healthy and fit afterwards.
      Unless someone can prove in individual cases, that the individual horse in question had it’s joints and muscles overtaxed, that is just the same kind of false boogeyman that you mentioned.
      And speaking of such, you make the outlandish “fat people riding horses, will mean anyone can beat their horse to death” boogeyman claim that you are complaining about.
      And the one you are complaining about is invalid because what the author of the article, said is provable.
      All you have to do is go look at the YouTube video by the video on YouTube by “bite size vegan” titled “is horse riding cruel, is it vegan?”.
      And her conclusion supposedly supported by science, is that it is cruel and should be totally outlawed.
      And she is not the first or only one I have ever heard, say that, either.
      There might not be many who say that, but 59 years ago there were not many who said that riders who they think are too heavy should be killed for being “cruel” either, yet the comments under many videos with “overweight” riders say they should be.
      And since most people believe in evolution, they should believe that in the many thousands of years people have been riding, the horses have adapted and evolved to carry the extra weight.
      And Icelandic ponies have been bred specifically to carry the weight of a full grown man with heavy armor and weapons.
      So those ponies at least, can without a doubt carry very heavy riders because that is what they have been bred for a 1000 years specifically to do.
      The fanaticism you dismiss as a “boogeyman” is very real, and there in videos and comments, for all to see.
      And the boogeyman you created that “allowing fat riders means horses will be beaten and starved to death” is far from real.

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    • January 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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      We also have a weight limit of 200 pounds which was instigated along the same lines as the anecdote that you shared in your comment. In fact, almost word for word.
      A lot does have to do with the physical fitness and skill level of the rider, but much more, IMO, depends on the breed and build of the horse. A thoroughbred is too lightly built to carry that much weight day in and day out. An old-style Haflinger, for instance, can carry a decent sized person quite easily, so long as you find the correct fitting saddle to use. Therein lies the rub for the smaller horse with a wide and shorter back: finding a saddle that fits that horse’s physique AND the posterior of the rider without having everything sitting back on the horse’s kidneys. On many, a western saddle is out of the question and an english saddle will require a fitting from an experienced saddle fitter.

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      • May 1, 2017 at 3:39 am
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        Saddle is good, but you must too have spurs and whip.

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        • April 21, 2018 at 9:38 am
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          Yep, need to use them on you though. Not the horse. Idiot.

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  • September 12, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    Isn’t it kind of obvious that horses don’t want fat people on them? Would you rather carry the heavier pack or the lighter one? I’m not saying you have to be super skinny to ride, just have some empathy and don’t choose the Shetland pony please. Pick the horse that suits you. If you are really fat maybe just stay in bed you probably wouldn’t have the energy to ride anyway

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    • September 18, 2015 at 8:44 am
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      @ duh. I am “really” fat. I am close on 220 lbs. I have tons of energy. Did you know that some manic people can be “really” fat, too? Probably not, so this is an education, I’m sure. I am not ashamed of my strong, fat, useful body. It’s a good thing my horse doesn’t think I should stay in bed all day, or no one would muck out the barn.

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      • December 8, 2016 at 11:07 am
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        220 might be fat or overweight for your height and age but that isnt heavy….. could i ride a horse safely for the horse @330 lbs…. before the gear…. tons of iding posts says 250~ is top end so i am guessing at 220 + gear ur still a light weight.

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      • September 8, 2018 at 4:19 pm
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        @em: Fat people aren’t capable of “educating” anybody on anything, aside from the art of stuffing one’s face until one’s body explodes with adipose tissue. If fatties like you are so energetic and full of vitality, how come y’all always choose the most sedentary forms of activity, like yoga, horseback riding, belly dancing, etc? Most of you can’t even sleep without a CPAP machine, but you want everyone to believe that your grotesque form is “strong” and full of energy? LOL! Get outta here!

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        • April 4, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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          EAD!!!! Grow up and get an education

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    • November 9, 2015 at 4:13 am
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      You must be a special kind of jerk.

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      • December 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm
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        Jerk isn’t the word for it!!! You have NO idea!!

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    • April 14, 2017 at 6:38 am
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      What a terrible response! My best friend has been a lifelong equestrian. Foxhunting was her passion. After the birth of her second child, she developed Type II Diabetes and has suffered from Metabolic Weight Disorder ever since. She is 5 feet tall and weights around 250. “Stay in bed you probably wouldn’t have the energy to ride anyway.” What an idiot you are. She could probably out-lift, and out-swim you. She is very fit but the weight will not go away. I despise people like “duh.” Why? Because they are stupid.

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      • July 21, 2019 at 2:37 am
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        Im a rider – rescue OTTB – and I say that I despise anyone who makes a sport from the unecessary suffering of an animal. You call it foxhunting, I call it something else entirely

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      • September 6, 2019 at 4:30 am
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        Okay first off- Foxhunting make equestrians like me have a bad name! Foxhunting is basically people chasing down an innocent animal and letting dogs maul it to death as fun, it is cruel and blatant animal abuse. I am 5’4 and weigh nowhere near even 100 so quite clearly she must be riding a larger horse and even then could be causing serious damage/harm and abuse to the animal. So clearly if your friend is a “lifelong” horse rider and knows basic equine knowledge she probably would go to a hospital and put effort into losing some weight for herself and the health and safety of her animal which probably will have damage so bad its joints will be ruined forever.
        — IT DOES NOT MATTER WHY! It doesn’t matter why you weigh too much it matters what you will do about it and how you will help your horse and not abuse it for the rest of its life.

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  • October 7, 2015 at 5:02 am
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    I don’t know what the limit is, but to say that most of us are too heavy for our horses sounds ridiculous to me in a time when horses are working sounder and living longer than ever before. MSU study?

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    • October 11, 2015 at 2:35 pm
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      I think you are right.
      I said something similar, though I did not mention the longer life expectancy of today’s horses, and I appreciate you adding that insight.

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  • November 10, 2015 at 10:32 am
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    Have compation for the poor horse! Can ride no matter how heavy you are but please don’t be cruel to the horse when you know you’re too heavy. The question is are you too fat to ride the answer is no for yourself and yes for the horse

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  • May 23, 2016 at 5:32 pm
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    We should also take into consideration that short backed compact horses can also carry more weight. The Arabian horse in most cases has one less vertebrae in their back and although they are usually smaller then many breeds these days they can, pound for pound, carry more weight comfortably then bigger horses with longer backs.

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  • June 1, 2016 at 2:41 am
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    The study was done at
    UC DAVIS
    And they say a horse should NOT carry more then A 1/4 of its weight.. read it for yourself

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  • June 29, 2016 at 11:14 pm
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    Really fat people, especially the 1st picture of that big women on that poor horse, who do you think you are putting poor animals through that

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  • January 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm
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    I think you have to use common sense. It depends on the size of the horse, of course. My quarter horse is large boned and even though only 15 hands, he weighs almost 1300 lbs. but is not fat. He’s stocky and can carry a larger person than my 800 lb. Arab/Welsh pony who is fine boned but sturdy. You can tell if the person is too heavy just by looking at if and how the horse/pony moves and if it labors under the weight. I believe that you must have a heavier person ride with a saddle and not bareback.

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  • February 28, 2018 at 7:51 pm
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    Of course, why am I not surprised. Obese people making excuses. Maximum 1/4 of the horse’s weight, and that includes you + gear. Not just you. Have some compassion. The horse is carrying your entire fat arse. Poor horse 🙁

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    • May 12, 2018 at 3:13 pm
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      Well said, Victoria. The horrible truth is too many riders ARE too heavy whether they want to know it or not, they’re just too selfish to care enough about the welfare of the horse & hence easily convince themselves that just because people do it, it must be okay. Nevermind reality, where the horse IS silently suffering, and any time the horse tries to let the people know they’re in discomfort they’re ignored until the protests get stronger, resulting in the horse being punished for “bad behaviour” and I observe too often the larger people are the ones most guilty of that (hoiking the mouth, kicking the ribs and whipping the horse is an unfortunate common occurance). But even minus those things, heavy weight is punishment enough, and no horse deserves it.

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      • May 30, 2018 at 6:23 am
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        Agree with Victoria and Katya!! Have some compassion both for the horse and your own joints/ organs and heart!!!

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    • January 6, 2019 at 9:06 am
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      Can we be kind to both horse and rider? Give some credit and a thank you to folks who are trying to be responsible about riding. No meanness or fat shaming needed!

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  • March 1, 2018 at 6:57 am
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    Well…. bottom line for me is…. I weigh 227 lb. right now and I would not dream of putting a horse under that weight…. why… because I care about them. Now…… when I lose to at least under 200… aiming for even less… then I will look into riding again.

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    • May 30, 2018 at 6:21 am
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      I wish all heavy people thought like a Vickie did/ does!!
      Please don’t make these poor horses suffer under your heavy weight! If you refuse to lose weight, ok that’s your unfortunate decision, but PLEASE don’t mount any horses or elephants or other animals. ( Actually no one should be riding elephants since their backs are not strong like horses and develop problems from carrying humans no matter the weight of their passengers).
      If other more slender members in your group want to ride, then why not walk along side them as they ride ( or take a hike elsewhere) and get some exercise at the same time?

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  • October 14, 2018 at 10:53 pm
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    well, well, well, I weight 175lbs. my western saddle weighs in at 19lbs. I own a 16.2 hh standard bred I have lost 16bls so far riding her and getting up and exercising with all the other tasks that come with owning a horse. I have done many of research into this as I did not want to be too big for my horse when I bought one. but I knew I would loose weight with my new hobby. I also have a bike in the mix to get to and from the yard. which is helping me shed the pounds. As I have read before on many a websites while researching. that a pony of say 12hh can take a heavy person and a light person but if the light person cannot ride and bounces around all over the place.. they will do more damage than the heavy person. there is no ideal weight or formula to use its all down to the different breed of horse bone structure and riding style, well my opinion anyway!! 🙂 but All I do know is that my horse will only get happier as I get lighter lol.

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  • January 9, 2019 at 9:51 am
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    First and foremost, the woman in the photograph, should never have been allowed to get on that horse in tennis shoes. If it were me, in charge, she would be instructed to wear proper footwear or she doesn’t get to ride. Judging by her physical stature, in tennis shoes, she would get into trouble very quickly if her feet get caught in the stirrups. If she has to ride, get her feet out of the stirrups. Clearly. Safety is no concern for that woman, in tennis shoes, so I doubt there any concern for the horse’s well-being and safety. As a paramedic niece shared with me, “Stupidity will kill a person quicker than anything else.”

    No proper footwear? You don’t get to ride. Plain and simple.

    It isn’t fat shaming if a person is too heavy. The horse’s well being takes prioriy over political correctness. It is as simple as that.

    And they do still eat horses today. Kill buyers can be found at any auction. What some Veterinary professionals are extremely worried about is human consumption of TBs. Because of the medications that are administered. Medications are clearly labeled not to be used if the animal is for human consumption because of the known risks to humans. Pure greed is the incentive for some people. The sheer terror the horses experience? There are no words. It’s pure evil. Plain and simple.

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  • February 8, 2019 at 3:01 pm
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    I weigh 300lbs and would not get on a light horse. It isn’t fair to them. I’ve been riding a 2000lb Percheron and he seems ok with my weight. I am focusing on building muscle and losing weight to make it easier for the horses and also for me. Riding is not cruel to the horse as long as you use common sense. I’d never get on an 1100lb horse at 300lbs. It just isn’t right.

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  • March 12, 2019 at 1:51 pm
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    Well I’ve been accepted into an equine college course that starts in 5/6 months. I’m only 16 but I’m also pretty overweight. I’m really scared that i will be to fat to ride. I’m currently trying so hard to lose weight between now and then. I’ve had a look around their stables and they have a total of 38 horses, some are huge which comforted me a little. I’ve been riding since 3 years old but 2 years ago I lost someone very close to me and also I lost interest in riding. Then I turned to food as my comfort.
    I’ve read all the comments and some of you are horrible saying how all fat people are lazy and don’t do shit all. That’s not always the case! Being around horses makes me happy and makes me forget about all the shitty things going on in my life. I really want to ride again but I’m so scared too.

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    • August 10, 2019 at 6:32 am
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      Don’t be scared because of the people who are mean and angry. Their hate should not guide your decision. Even if you are bit overweight, you can still ride a horse safely if it’s the correct ratio.
      And if you want to ride, do it! Just ride the right horse. And don’t let the jerks and fat shamers or anyone else tell you what you should do!

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  • March 16, 2019 at 4:47 pm
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    Unfortunately there is no cure for stupid!!

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  • June 16, 2019 at 7:06 am
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    Connecting people with horses, trails and nature is a good, healthy thing. I used to ride when I weighed in my own estimation an appropriate amount for the horses I had access to, but I am not at that weight at present, so I haven’t ridden in a long while (bummer for me). However, I might suggest for trail riding companies/groups to consider adding another type of experience. 1) hike while leading a horse who carries your gear for a picnic 2) an experience to pet, brush, feed a carrot, learn how to saddle a horse, lead the horse around. You might have to select which horses are the most ‘friendly’ to people petting them but you also could charge a small fee to allow people to get to have that one-on-one connection. I loved doing that as a teenager and would love to get to just interact with someone’s horse. . . and my weight would not be an issue at all. 😉

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  • June 27, 2019 at 4:57 pm
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    for those horse experts on this forum who think all is black and white, your intellect doesnt take with average folks on the internet searching for answers. stop being debbie downers and insulting people or your asses wouldnt be able to make a living breeding and caring for horses (in a strict sense you are slave owners and lose moral ground by owning anything other than yourself). be nice and concise please and stop letting your anger contaminate the internet with hatred. regarding horses, i have sister who, based in this forum i can tell is too heavy to ride, but she wants to take my daughter (typical 11 yr old) on a trail ride, which she had done over a decade ago when she was lighter. i’d say she is 300 now amd was before her health issues 215. should i talk to her and discourage this and point her to this forum or another or let the manager at the trail d al with it. i am not a horse expert and am not well able to act like i know the facts. pointing her here to learn could be too time consuming especially with so many snarky ass people distracting from the real discussion. i suppose IF the trail has a real big horse and feels she can saddle it’s his/her call but i feel maybe i should intervene and encourage her to not expect the right animal to be available or that rules will permit her in such condition. please dont respond if all u think is tell her she’s fat and dont ride. i know that already, but find it hard to believe there hasnt been some big ass cowboy weighing in at 300 not includimg saddle that didnt hirt their horse. shot, half the men in missouri that raise cattle and are 6’ or greater have horses weigh and weigh in at least at 220-250.

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  • July 25, 2019 at 1:49 am
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    I am a “fluffy” rider. I have a good seat, light hands, ride in a bareback pad about 90% of the time, and a semi-custom trail saddle for the rest of the time. Our usual riding terrain varies (just as it did in the old days) and our pace and gaits change constantly.
    my fine boned wee half arab, was a starved rescue at two. I didn’t ride her till she was five-though I ponied her all over the place. She’s always had a “tricky hip” which sometimes requires rest or chiropractic, and we do a lot of specific muscle building for it.
    At 10- I suspect she’ll be good and ride-able for at least another decade-though perhaps not at the rate we do now.
    My point? We start horses way too young. We do a lot of repetitive stressful movements on them. Many riders do not have a balanced seat and they have awful hands. Saddle fit is always an issue.
    Does that mean we shouldn’t ride? No! Horses are way too expensive and get health issues from doing NOTHING as well! If well treated-they understand and thrive with “being useful” aspect of the partnership as well as we do. It opens up a whole new world for them and the intelligent ones really get into it…It is not hard to see the satisfaction and glee in a well trained animal at the top of it’s game. Mine actually neigh at the trailer and can hardly wait for the next adventure…ears perked-stride merry. We practice ‘dressage movements’ on the trail where they make a whole lot of sense!
    I consider it abusive to have “yard ornaments”. If they surpass either your pocket book, bad marriage or your life span-they have little use for the next person and are often a safety liability or walking health litany. (Won’t lead, stand for a farrier, load in a trailer or carry even a light wee rider in their old age.)
    If we enjoy riding and the horse does get sore, stiff and old-well-yes-that is part of the aging cycle-I am there myself. The best we can do is make the tack fit, learn to ride and go forth in happiness and camaraderie. A steady,well trained and responsible equine-will still be able to be someones “toodle” horse or child’s first learning experience-limping or not-they will fulfill this with focus and endearing tenderness that makes me tear up and bless all good horses-be they 5, 8,15 or 35.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 3:33 pm
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    Wow. I feel badly for the horses because they are being used by a bunch of a*******s to be bigoted towards fat people. I don’t understand the anger and hate towards people different from you but that’s pretty common in our society. They breed huge horses for fatties” (I’m guessing we have some seriously insecure folk with body image issues trying to project their fears and unhappiness into others in this comments section. And maybe a bit of ED. ‍♀️). Because fat people are like regular people and enjoy doing fun stuff, too, I’m guessing? If a stable puts someone that is too heavy on a horse that will be harmed by them, then guess who’s to blame? That is the responsibility of the stable to properly care and look out for those horses. Period. Stop trying to be hateful to fat people for things that are not their responsibility nor should it be. Their weight is none of your damn business, and you have no idea whether they gained a bunch of weight from a medical treatment, bedridden from a brain disorder that causes daily migraines, or have a slowed metabolism from a new experimental cancer med and finally got a chance to get out and ride a horse. How dare you judge them as though you were somehow better. You so very obviously are not.

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    • September 21, 2019 at 9:31 pm
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      Absolutely a person can be TOO FAT to ride a horse. I cringe when I see fat/obese people on a horse.
      I feel so bad for the horse. And it tells me how selfish the fat person is who thinks horses can handle their massive weight.
      Americans are getting fatter & fatter & no ones supossed to say anything.
      It’s embarrassing how fat Americans have become.

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