View Full Version : Which is which - my weight or her being lazy?

Sep. 19, 2007, 09:52 AM
I'm embarrassed to post this question but I really need your help to figure out this question that I have for my Arab mare.

She is 14.1 hands and weighs about 900 lbs. After working with her this summer on ground, taking care of her feet and waiting out from the rain storms and mosquitos problems, I finally got to ride her the past two weeks. Since I want Abby, the alpha mare in her herd to be the Mother's mare which means that she is to act like the horse that I can rely on while I take care of my girls out on trail ride, I work hard on establishing the trust between us while I let her know that I'm the alpha mare. We are not 100% there yet. However, I have this persistant problem.

I've lost 30 pounds and have about 35 more to go (195 to 165 lbs - went down from clothes size 20 to 12. I'm exercising vigorously at least 7 hours a week so that I can be in a good shape for long trotting with Abby. For a horse to carry me, I and the tack - Barefoot Cheyenne saddle - cannot weigh more than 20% of her total weight which is 180 lbs). I thought that I'd be lighter than before; however, I'm thinking otherwise. I've noticed that Abby would pin her ears backwards whenever I get her to trot - not the listening mode but rather, "I do not want to do this" type ear pinning back. Is it because I'm still too heavy for her? Or, is it because she is too lazy? How do I measure which is which?

Mtn trails
Sep. 19, 2007, 09:55 AM
Could be your saddle fit, check for pain issues first. It' doesn't sound like you're too heavy for her or her being lazy.

Sep. 19, 2007, 10:50 AM
It sounds like she had a good period of time off from being ridden? So she's probably going to need time to get back into shape for regular riding. With the time off she probably lost some muscling in her topline, which could throw her saddle fit off and make it more difficult to bear weight.

I don't think you're too heavy at all. My mare is 14.3, and when I gained my college weight (which has since been banished, but note to self: Irish stout and cheese fries do not constitute a balanced diet!) I weighed a bit more than you do now AND I was using a big heavy saddle. Scarlet was in prime shape at the time and did not have a problem carrying me. So it might just be a matter of equine fitness.

Probably a good idea to take a look at hoof angles too after a few months off. If something is even slightly off with the feet, it'll throw everything else off and lead to some back pain.

And last but not least--CONGRATS on the awesome weight loss! I know how hard it is to stick to a weight loss program, so good for you! I'm sure you feel absolutely fantastic.

Sep. 19, 2007, 11:50 AM
Also, could SHE be a bit overweight?
900lbs for a 14.1 Arab sounds like a lot... (Did you use a tape or are you just guessing?)

I would definitely check her saddle fit, especially if she has gained weight during her time off.

(And congrats on YOUR weight loss!) :)

Sep. 19, 2007, 11:59 AM
Is she just kind of bitchy? I have a little 6 year old Arab mare who does pin her ears back at me at various times, on the ground and under saddle, and really isn't the sweetest little thing in the world :) When I first started her, she really didn't want to go forward and got pretty ornery. She was also super sensitive to all of her tack and I had to find out what type of saddle, pad, bit, etc. that she really likes. Anyhow, now she's got a couple of LDs under her belt and has been ridden quite a bit more and she is much more forward and has a lot less attitude. But she's not a sweetie like my geldings!

Sep. 19, 2007, 12:04 PM
Congrats on the weight loss and GOOD FOR YOU!! I think you've gotten some good suggestions. Since you are riding in a treeless saddle, I would make sure that you have the right kind of pad to support your horse's back. You should definitely be using a pad specificially designed for treeless like a Skito so your weight is distributed evenly along her back.

Good luck!

beth heffelfinger
Sep. 19, 2007, 05:31 PM
You are to be comended for the Awsom loss. I know that it has been hard work. I think the Head mares are more Domanant and like to give there oppinions. If you take her for a walk on a lead off the property I bet she will give some additude then you will know she is beaing Mare ish. Good news I think once she gets back to work she will forget about things bothering her.
(you are wise to check her back)
:)You are not to big keep up the good work.

Sep. 19, 2007, 05:47 PM
well i know what you're going through anyway, it might be the weight or she isn't muscled well enough yet to carry it, i went from 165 to 145 and got stuck for a couple of months and now at 130, have 10 more to go, i ride better at a lower weight, so it might not be the weight itself but how you balance it as well

JackSprats Mom
Sep. 19, 2007, 11:03 PM
Its not your weight, she can carry you just fine.

I would check the obvious as others have said, saddle fit, back etc etc.

Otherwise she may be trying it on, go check out my thread on the dressage forum on 'horse balks going forward' as I went through the same, but more extreme thing with my 4 yeaqr old.

Sep. 20, 2007, 09:10 AM
Thank you all for your suggestions. I couldn't answer yesterday afternoon as I had to get the splint in my eye removed by a specialist. Now, my eye is puffy but ok.

Jacksprat, I will check your thread today.

Yellow-horse, I think I'm better balanced now than before but I might still be
"off"? I'll ask my trainer to check to see if I'm balanced now.

Beth, I've taken her out on many foot walks with me and have learned what she is like out there. She's accepted that I'm the one who's in charge and that there are no "ghosts" to be afraid of.

GE, I bought special pad to go with Barefoot just for the reason - to further support my heavy weight last summer. I have not switched to another pad because Abby seems to be happy with the current saddle and pad. Then, again, I might be wrong.

Saratoga, YES, she is bitchy towards humans and horses. Abby reminds me a lot of my middle daughter who is very intense with her feelings - very LOVING or very BITCHY. There is almost no in between with her.

Bearcat, the last time I measured her was when she got laminitis in the late Spring. I put her on a diet. I have not yet measured her. :/

Scarlet, your reasoning makes sense about her not having muscles along topline. I recall being sour and sore after I started rowing again after a month off.

Yes, losing weight is difficult but worth it for many reasons. Abby is the first reason why I started working out. I feel so much better after reading all of your suggestions and will work on them. I so very much look forward to taking her out on many rides so that we can enter the FIRST race this coming Spring. My fingers are tingling with the thought of going! :D

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :D

Sep. 20, 2007, 11:44 AM
that was the reason i lost weight, i got a skinny arab and thought well this isn't fair to expect her to carry me around and be happy about it, my sister who is not horsey said to me, are you happy in your marriage you are losing weight and working out,that's a sign of having an affair,lol

Sep. 20, 2007, 12:25 PM
I just posted a thread on the Dressage board about balance.

You might also be in the same boat as I am, that your balance has changed some. In many ways I was a 'lighter' rider at a heavier weight, because I haven't quite mastered the 'new' body I'm using. And I've another 30lbs to go... so it's going to get worse again before it gets better (if it gets better first... it might just STAY uncomfortable until I reach my goal and stay there for a while. )

I don't understand at all what you're saying about alpha and mother mare and such, so I can't comment on that.

Sep. 23, 2007, 10:09 PM
I have seen that reaction during a trot transition and often it is a reaction to the front of the saddle digging into the shoulder. Might not hurt to put your hand there to see how tight it is when you are in the saddle - and watch her shoulder muscle and whether the saddle is interfering.

Carol Ames
Sep. 23, 2007, 10:31 PM
What happens when you palpate her back?:confused:

Sep. 24, 2007, 09:50 AM
Yesterday, I took her out for a ride in the arena and found her to be a pleasant horse to ride on even at trotting. Nonetheless, I will look at her back and shoulder with the saddle on to see if there is a problem.

Balance thing is something I need to work on with the new body that I have on. I cannot ride bareback just yet. :( I miss going bareback.

Thanks! :D

Sep. 26, 2007, 08:43 AM
Prieta - no way are you too heavy for your mare.

Watch some ranch work competitions. most of those horses are 14-15.2h QH, Morgans, and Arabs. These cowboys weigh in anywhere between 165-225lbs, and then add in the tack.
Also, look at the Arab breed shows.
The Arab dominates endurance and competitive trail competitions.

Look at Polo horses - predominently small TBs carrying around guys averaging 180lbs - all this at speed wiht quick stops and turns.

Good for you on the weight loss - BUT stop losing weight when you feel 'good' rather than at a designated weight - remember that muscle weighs a lot more than fat. So if you are exercising please take that into consideration. I wanted to get down to 120-125, but I feel really good and healthy at 130 - yeah I have a bit of a belly bulge, but I feel good, so I'll try and stay at this weight. Too many of my friends picked a weight goal, reached it, then got very very sick. You know, as we get older our body changes. ;)

Sep. 26, 2007, 10:45 AM
:yes: I've watched those shows you mentioned and mentally tell myself that I'm not too heavy for my mare. Once I'm with my mare, my mental notes went out of the window. I fret and worry whenever my mare complained. She is very communicative and sweet at the same time. She never buck me off so it is up to me to be sure that I'd not abuse her by making her do beyond what is asked of her.

About the ideal weight, I might end up weighing 135 to 140 and stay there. It is fun to go for the ideal weight while I'm at it. :yes::) It is no fun having this middle aged body refusing to give up those lards even with lots of work. :no:

Sep. 26, 2007, 01:28 PM
Prieta, first off - Good for you! That is a terrific weight loss and commitment..:yes:

I've read several times on the board about not weighing more than 20 percent of your horses weight, but I'd really like to know where this study came from and how did they came to that conclusion.

Many of the old type of QH weren't much over 15.0 hands, yet carried a grown man and perhaps a 50 lb roping saddle just fine.

I have the same problem as you regarding weight. I have a 13.1 hand stocky, not overweight POA. I'm up there in weight, but solid and well balanced.

Believe me, she has no problem carrying me. Our daily trail ride consists of mostly trotting and some nice fast galloping up a slight hill. :winkgrin:
In fact today, she was "booking"...lol

I think balance plays a bigger role than weight. Again, I always hear the 20 percent factor and IMO basically dismiss it (unless it is very obvious)
Just noticed another poster mentioned the Ranch horses with grown men...perfect example why I dismiss the 20 percent rule.

Again, Kudos for the weight loss! There is hope for me yet! :lol:

Sep. 26, 2007, 01:56 PM
You mare could have some issues with her previous laminitis. It takes a year or more to regain sole density. Is she more willing on softer ground?
I doubt if your weight is a issue.
Congrads on your weight loss! You are a inspiration to us heavier riders!

Oct. 5, 2007, 05:55 PM
You might want your vet to check her out. She could have some uterine issues. A friend's mare was like that, and during a breeding exam the vet discovered she had cysts that were causing pain and increased hormones. As soon as the cysts were removed, she was a new mare!

To help with possible saddle issue, you might think about getting a ThinLine pad (http://www.aretesaddlery.com/tack/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=46). Use it over the pad you have. It will eliminate pressure points and help distribute weight. If it is a saddle issue, you should notice a difference after a few rides with the new pad. If it's not, you won't notice much difference. You can send the pad back within 30 days for a refund if it doesn't work for your girl. I bet the ThinLine Endurance pad (http://www.aretesaddlery.com/tack/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=67) would for your saddle. That's what a friend of mine uses with her Barefoot saddle (over an Equipedic pad).

How are her feet? Someone else mentioned softer ground. I know my mare will pin her ears if we go out barefoot too soon after a trimming. I use boots on her (her soles are still in transition from shod to barefoot, but improving everyday!). If she's in a pasture, putting pea gravel down in a common area will help toughen and thicken her soles.

Oct. 7, 2007, 11:39 AM
You are an inspiration! WOW!

I'm in the camp who says there is no way you are too heavy for your mare. I took a little 14hh Arabian mare on a 30-mile CTR, and with tack I weigh 170 lbs. She was fine and had no back soreness at all. I use a saddle with an Arabian tree, since none of the other saddles I have fit her. I also rode a low two-point a lot to stay off her back. You could try going two point for your transitions into the trot and see if that makes a difference.

A friend pointed out to me that Arabians sometimes need their saddles back farther than other horses to clear the shoulder blades while the horse is moving. She had one that would rear whenever the saddle was too far forward. I had never thought about it before but was extra careful when saddling the little Arabian mare, Cressy. Sure enough, I had to put the saddle back farther than usual (I'm used to TB's these days). The little mare has well sprung ribs and is also a bit tubby, so she needs a crupper to keep the saddle back where it belongs.

It is great that you are so sensitive to your mare's moods. If you think it is discomfort, then try her on different footings to see whether it could be hoof related. I don't usually find ear-pinning to be hoof related, but one never knows. My guys that get sore on rocks become very picky about their footing rather than pinning their ears. They'll have opinions about where I want them to go, but not how fast.

Also keep in mind that mares can be moody, just like us women. I sure wish I could pin my ears when I'm in a bad mood! One of the reasons I love riding mares is that they are moody and I feel I'm in good company. Geldings are so...predictable. Even Butch. I can predict that he'll buck any time a horse comes up the trail behind him. :lol:

Oct. 8, 2007, 10:21 AM
Thank you all for your suggestions and "clappings". It is not easy to lose weights! One month went by and I measured myself again. I lost three pounds and a total of 4.5 inches all over through swimming, rowing, and riding.

Between the last posting and this posting, I've done quite a bit with Abby. She is indeed out of shape because Abby would puff and huff after I trot her just a bit. I think that her topline is not muscular enough to help her work more effectively. I've basically taken her out on walks in the hilly cornfield every other day for thirty minutes. Yesterday, Abby was really high that she went cantering without my prompting but was grateful when I asked her to slow down after a few strides. She was really huffing and puffing but really happy and alert. I also moved the saddle back a bit to give her more shoulder room. This week, I'm going to increase her work from 30 minutes to 35 minutes with more trotting. Hopefully, Abby will improve from there.

I am really looking forward to going to endurance this coming Spring! :)