View Full Version : Size of Horse for 230lb. Rider

Marla 100
Mar. 9, 2011, 04:08 PM
I'm wondering how big in height and build a trail horse should be for a rider this size. I know short, stout horses can be very strong and some big, tall horses can have puny little legs. So can you describe the ideal horse for this large, tall man for 1-2 hr. trail rides? Mostly flat, sandy trails.

Mar. 9, 2011, 04:25 PM
Sometimes more important than weight itself: Can he actually ride? Is he a fit man?
In other words, is he a bag of potatoes letting the horse do all the work, or is he a well-balanced rider who does his part?

Some heavyweight riders do very well, incl. long distances, riding smaller horses, etc., but they know what they're doing. They most likely take/took lessons and keep not only their horse but also themselves in good shape.

Also, very important for a heavyweight rider is to find the right saddle that fits properly and distributes the weight well.

Mar. 9, 2011, 05:09 PM
Is that tack included?

My father is about.. 245 lbs tack included. He's ridden 50 milers for about the last 30 years -his current horse (last 5 years) has been a 15hh crabbet gelding who isn't super fined boned but is much lighter than his previous horse and they do very well every season.

But it also depends on riding style as stated. My dad has a very balanced seat, but we did have some trouble as first with saddling to get everything just 'right' for longer distances.

Marla 100
Mar. 9, 2011, 09:15 PM
230 pounds body weight, tack would be extra and he hasn't ridden for 40 yrs so he might be that sack of potatoes for awhile. Fit? Nah, not very.
I know of a horse who may become available QH/TWH, maybe 15.3-16H, good bone but not huge, decent size body, not sure of weight. But I'm concerned the horse may be too small/light for a re-rider this size. Any more thoughts?

Mar. 9, 2011, 09:37 PM
Honestly, for 1 -2 hrs on mostly flat ground, the horse you describe should be just fine. Think of the Grand Prix riders that weigh 175 -200 + and they are jumping big courses. You aren't looking for speed and it's not over a long distance/time so don't fret too much!

Mar. 9, 2011, 09:48 PM
Since hes an unfit, re-rider, why not consider a draft or a draftX.

They would be very comfortable to ride, manage the weight well -- and considering adding tack to the 230lbs.. you might be nearing 300 in total.

At best, he would have an enjoyable ride, and can practice on regaining his muscle fitness and balances. Once hes got his legs back, he can better assess a horse perhaps better suited to his tastes.

Certainly, a well-ridden draft or X, will hold their value enough to add to the kitty for a new mount.

Mar. 9, 2011, 10:21 PM
My DH is 230-240 lbs, and 6'3". His 17.1 hand SSH, that looks and is built like a draft cross (to SSH lovers, he's a bit of a mutant), carries him well for trail rides, and has grown with him from a newbie to an experienced rider over the past 8 years. I think smaller horses can handle the weight, but I would worry for them as they age. For my DH's horse, his value is in his stockiness and not so much his height. I agree with the thought of a draft or draft cross. My 16 hand TWH, who isn't that small boned, can carry my DH for a trail ride but he's not too happy about it, being used to me and a forward sort of guy. Look for a stocky, solid and stout build, and the temperment to babysit while he's starting out. :)

DH's horse is the "pony" on the property, and the horse we put kids and newbies on. All 17.1 hands of him!

Halcyon Days
Mar. 9, 2011, 10:39 PM
At my heaviest, I weighed in around 300 (with tack) and did up to 75 mile endurance rides on a 16.2 TWH. A nice stout gaited horse would be just fine with him and keep him comfortable

Mar. 9, 2011, 10:39 PM
Whatever it is, short back, good bone and very sound should be your #1 criteria. 230 is heavy for someone who's not fit and doesn't know what they're doing. It's 30 pounds heavier than most lesson programs will allow. Another thing you can do to help whatever horse you choose is to make that the horse is fit as well, even if it means that you do some of the exercising to keep it in shape. A fit strong horse will carry the weight easier than an unfit one.

I'm tempted to suggest a strong QH.

Mar. 9, 2011, 11:55 PM
My ex was about that size. Did not possess the best balance.

Rode arabs. Stout arabs who took care of him. 15-15.2h arabs.

Mar. 10, 2011, 01:34 AM
Draft or Irish cross with quarter horse would be perfect--that's what they use in CO and upper CA for trail rides out to see the wild horses. They're sturdy, solid, and comfy with easy-going personalities and good brains.

Mar. 10, 2011, 02:13 AM
I am over the weight limit you stated and ride a 15.2&1/2h TB mare. She has a slightly stocky body, short back/good conformation. I did make sure my saddle fit her well. We routinely go for several hour trail rides on varied terrain, and she has never had a problem carrying me or had a sore back.

Mar. 10, 2011, 02:53 AM

Mar. 10, 2011, 08:29 AM
I would suggest a big, stout, gaited horse with a smooth gait. That way your SO won't be floundering trying to deal with the trot, may not ever have to canter either. A TWH or SSH might really fit the bill for him. But do get a saddle (with a trial period) that REALLY fits well and a pad that will help with the fit and shock absorption.


Mar. 10, 2011, 08:43 AM
My concern with a draft or draft cross is that OP is in Florida. Many of the heavier draft or draft crosses I know have a tough time with heat and humidity. It is harder to get them fit, keep them fit and their body mass makes it harder to cool out.

Mar. 10, 2011, 10:30 AM
The remount standard for the Cavalry specified a 15-16 hand, Thoroughbred-type, 900-1100 pound gelding as the base horse. It was expected to carry 230-250 pounds in the field (rider, tack, weapons, gear, etc.). This meant the average horse soldier was 130-170 pounds as his tack and gear and weapons were going to run in the 80 pound range.

I would think that a TB gelding, properly conformed, would do the job if the saddle and tack weight were kept down. Indeed just about any well conformed horse in this size range would do the job.

The larger rider has to keep in mind that they are, by definition, stressing the horse more than a lighter weight rider. This means they have to ride better and be more balanced. They can't just sit astride like an old sack of wheat. They must also be more careful in tack and saddle fitting as they have a smaller range of operation.

The key for the heavier rider is good selection of the horse. They will likely pay more for a better horse, but good horses are generally cheaper to keep than sorry ones, so it likely will even out over time.


Mar. 11, 2011, 04:54 PM

All the more reason to go with a solid and more traditional quiet type horse like a TWH or QH don't you think?? A TB would not be my choice for a trail ride after 40 years out of the saddle. Maybe something to strive for in the far future??

Mar. 11, 2011, 05:21 PM
People keep recommending TWH which surprises me as I always thought they had relatively longer backs compared to a QH. A preliminary test I've always used is if the horse has to shift to balance itself while you are mounting, you're too heavy for it. Same if it groans.

Since we're talking about a beginner rider who will be putting significant miles on the horse over an extended period of time, I commend the OP for taking this seriously.

Mar. 12, 2011, 09:43 PM
The remount standard for the Cavalry specified a 15-16 hand, Thoroughbred-type, 900-1100 pound gelding as the base horse.

Remount used a lot of Morgans also... the old style Morgans with shorter cannon bones provide more torque...they can hold up in Florida, but a old line Polish Arabian maybe a better line for that much heat/humidity

Mar. 13, 2011, 01:06 AM
Remount used a lot of Morgans also... the old style Morgans with shorter cannon bones provide more torque...they can hold up in Florida, but a old line Polish Arabian maybe a better line for that much heat/humidity

Morgans were used, but mostly in the Artillery. More than 90% of the Remount Service Stallions were TBs.


Mar. 16, 2011, 07:49 AM
Gullherme, you're right ---

John Waynes big bay with the blaze, Banner, was a tb. Now, JW was 6'4/ 300 lbs in True Grit> where he's holding the reins in his teeth) However, it is said, the horse did struggle with his weight on certain stunts. In ElDorado, he was riding a grey roan appy, Zips Cochise...that he hated cause he was too small, (obvious to us if we watch the movie)...but the producer owned the horse and wanted it in the movie. <sigh> poor JW cursed a lot !

I have a fellow coming today to look at a horse> hes 6'4"/250. I honestly doubt even my 16.3 monster boned turf hose with size 2 shoes can hold him. Yes, that mounting *straddle& groan* test is one I use also.
I do notice too, that inexperienced riders have a tendency to want to stand in the left stirrup, pulling the saddle & back badly, so its not always weight that causes this ... but it is another measure of suitability.

I'm of the camp that big people need big horses and follow the 20% rule --- 1000lb horses max weight 200lbs/ etc. In our hunt club, there was never a man of stature hesitant to ride half-drafts or even full in order to have a full day of hunting! In my younger days, I showed jumpers against a gal who rode a full that flew over fences, challenging me at every turn!
I find drafts(x's) very comfortable -- there's one that ponies at the track, smooth as silk.... and keeps up just fine with the tb's.
I could give, as many of you could, lots of examples and excellent reasons for bigger people to work with these bigger horses.

ps: simbalism: Ive met you ...! there isn't a horse in my barn you cant ride :)