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mysaygrace
Jun. 27, 2011, 09:13 AM
I've been hearing riders weight with tack should be no more than 20% of the horses weight. But other variables can come in to play such as the horses build, horses condition, how balanced the rider is, type of riding, etc.

My husband's horse (Charlie) has re injured his suspensory ligament & in my heart I believe Charlie's riding career is over. Hopefully we'll be able to get him pasture sound so we're not faced with putting him to sleep. He's going to the vet's today for ultrasounds & xrays to let us know his fate. Everyone is telling me to just let my husband ride my 15 yo arab mare. I am NOT comfortable with this as she's somewhat light bone 14.3 H & my husband is 250 lbs (without tack) & rides on "his pockets" & to one side. I've had several conversations with him that he needs to shift his weight to the left & then he gets angry at me. Even our friends that we trail ride with say they're surprised his horse Charlie never has a sore back. Then there's the disagreement on saddles. I struggled for years finding a saddle for my mare that wouldn't make her back sore, finally I started riding her in a BMSS & she became a different horse, sooo much happier & pain free. But my husband refuses to ride her in a BMSS & insists on using his saddle. I can't help but get angry when we go to McD's & he gets a 20 piece chicken nugget for himself, I just sit there & think of my poor mare & what if he does start riding her.

I hate to be selfish & not let my husband ride my mare but I also feel like I'm not doing what's in my mare's best interest if I allow my husband to ride her knowing in my heart it's not right. When we go out & ride it's for several hours over rocky terrain & lots of hills. My mare is not in shape right now she's enjoying life in our pasture for I've been riding my young horse getting him ready for his first CTR. I feel guilty that I have two sound rideable horses & my husband has none. Actually we have a older arab mare that is more suited for him to ride but she freaks out in our slant load trailer when I try to move the partition over. She was a rescue case we originally got for him to ride, I've been telling my husband for years now to work with her on her trailer issues so he can start riding her but he hasn't. He also has a yearling filly but obviously he can't ride her. I'm feeling all kind of emotions right now, I'm worried sick over Charlie's ankle, angry that I feel pressured to do wrong by my mare, frustrated because hubby won't work with the mare that's more suited for him, and sad for my husband because his horse is injured & he can't ride with us.

The group of friends we ride with are CTR/Endurance riders so we've been conditioning lately for a ride we're going to in July. So even if I would break down & let my husband ride my mare she's no where near in shape enough to tackle the type of riding we're doing. I thought about looking around for a lease on a horse for him to ride until his yearling filly is a few years older. Maybe I'm over reacting & I should let my husband ride her, but I'd never forgive myself if something happened to her that I could've prevented. Sorry to vent on & on about this, thanks for listening.

ellebeaux
Jun. 27, 2011, 09:20 AM
I don't think you're overreacting at all.

It sounds like your husband is a horseman of some experience. It may be very difficult for him to hear such criticism from his wife. Perhaps it would help to have a trainer or someone speak with him? That leaning is a bad habit.

I think leasing a horse is a great idea, play on his strengths - maybe there is a young Quarter Horse in the area that needs some more miles? Did you look in the riders wanted thread?

wendy
Jun. 27, 2011, 02:17 PM
YOU could work on the mare with the trailer issues and just present her to him as his riding horse?

mysaygrace
Jun. 27, 2011, 02:34 PM
Wendy - I have tried working with this mare on her trailer issues. We suspect she was abused by a woman as she is very reactive around me but trusts my husband & the male vets. Her former owner was a woman who let her feet get so long they looked like slippers and was in mud up to her hocks, etc. Last summer when Annie (the mare) had an eye injury which required multiple eye drops several times a day she allowed my husband to do it without a halter. He said they developed a relationship after spending so much time together treating her eye. He was all gung ho then about working with her on trailering then it was like a fart in a wind storm once she was healed he lost interest. I guess I could try working with her again, what do I have to lose at this point.

mysaygrace
Jun. 27, 2011, 02:57 PM
Ellebeaux- Yes, my husband is a decent rider with some experience but when it comes to any sort of criticism he lets it go in one ear & out the other. He'd be a scary good rider if he's listen to what others are suggesting. We often ride with our friend who is also my riding instructor & person who started my young horse. He's even tried saying something to my husband about lengthening his stirrups & putting weight more in his heels, but i hasn't worked. I thought maybe my husband would listen to our friend because he's a man too but he doesn't, very frustrating. I'm the opposite I love the critics I get on the trail, I feel so fortunate that my riding instructor is also our friend that trail rides with us. He takes what he sees out on the trail then tailors my lessons in the ring to what needs worked on. But our friend/instructor is very careful not to offer many suggestions to my husband because he doesn't want him to feel like he's under the microscope the whole time, after all we're out to have fun.

I may start putting my feelers out for a lease on a horse for a few months for him. Our neighbor has offered us a horse in the past when one of ours is laid up so maybe I'll call him, maybe he'll have a stockier type horse that needs some mileage. Thanks for the idea of looking at the riders wanted thread, that's a great idea!

candyappy
Jun. 27, 2011, 03:05 PM
There is no way I would let a man of his size ride a 15 hand arab. With tack you could be pushing close to 300 lbs. I would try to find a horse to lease for at least 3 years because he is too big to ride his filly even when she is 3. I would be honest with him and tell him that he is too heavy to ride your mare. If done with tact, honesty is the best policy.

Painted Horse
Jun. 27, 2011, 08:14 PM
How long, how many miles, how rough of terrain do you ride?

The old rule is 20% weight for 8 hours. Horses that have to carry 25% or 30% weight can do it, But for much shorter periods or distances. Riding in the mountains at 9,000-10,000 is much different than trail around the farm at close to sea level.

I sponsored an endurance race years ago. As new manager I laid out 50 miles of trail that also had over 8,000 foot of verticle elevation change and camp was a 8,200 foot elevation and we crossed several 11,000 foot passes. The Vet judge came to me and said I should take some miles out of the course because it was too tough. I replied that I was told the course needed to be 50 miles to meet the rules of an endurance race. He instructed me that 50 miles of flat trails is easier that 40 miles of mountain trails. He said take the miles out and just tell everybody they had rode 50.

The point being, is there is more than weight involved in your decision. Your husband can ride your mare if its shorter distance or easy terrain rides. Would I put 30% on a horse and ask them to do 50 miles with 8,000 of elevation change. No. But I sure wouldn't worry about 30% for a ride around the farm property.

AKB
Jun. 27, 2011, 09:04 PM
There are plenty of nice draft crosses and other big horses around. Many of them do better with a bigger rider rather than some 90 pounder who is like a flea on an elephant. If you can afford to keep one more horse, that might be a good solution that makes him happy, keeps your horse for you, and provides a great rider for some gentle giant.

brightskyfarm
Jun. 27, 2011, 09:38 PM
Im of the 20% camp. I am approached by buyers who weigh in the ranges of your husband, and politely explain that a horse/rider team should be proportionate.

For anyone weighing this amount, whether a well-versed rider or beginner, I would recommend a draft cross, or full belgium --many are quite attractive! and just darling rides :yes:.

Height is just as much an issue. A 6' tall person would do best to consider a taller horse, a heavier rider would do best to consider a stouter horse -- both? a long time looking!:D
and most likely deep pockets will be needed too.

Suspensory's rarely resolve themselves. Bows are different and once set are ok. I am sorry your horse has this issue. If you were to look at the classifieds in *the lancaster farming* online you will find many draft x's that are ride-ready, safe and reasonably priced.

http://www.lancasterfarming.com/Classifieds/SubcategoryList/?Classification=2090&operator=search

some examples:

7 y.o. black & white Reg. Spotted Draft Mare, 17H, rides and drives very well. Erin C. Lundy (315)493-1051

7 y/o Blonde Belgian mare, works in the lines or jocky, $1,650.

there used to be a draft that ponied at the track -- couch with legs kind of ride :) ! and easy keeper too, so dont let the size fool you .

Guilherme
Jun. 28, 2011, 12:34 AM
We begin with a question: where does the 20% rule come from? Why 20%, as opposed to 15% or 25%?

This rule was certainly not used by the various cavalries during WWI (and probably before and after that event).

The standard load of the British Cavalry during WWI weighed 280 lbs. (including the rider). This load did not include a steel helmet or winter clothing.

The standard load of the U.S. Cavalry was about 250 lbs., including the rider. Again, the steel helmet and winter coat was not included.

Loads of Continental cavalries were also quite large. The following description of an Austrian Army Cavalry patrol is found in a 1917 issue of the U.S. Cavalry Journal:

On another occasion in East Galacia, an officer's patrol of one officer and twenty men covered 342 miles in six days. The average load per horse was 300 lbs., and there were no sore backs. The mounts were of the stocky type, weighing about 1000 lbs., well bred, and from 15 to 15.2 hands in height.

Here are more interesting exerpts:

http://books.google.com/books?id=XuA4g2RCZS0C&pg=PA306&dq=army+rule+maximum+horse+load&hl=en&ei=Ty0FTuqFJqT20gHyu4jnCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwADge#v=onepage&q=horse%20load&f=false

If you click on any page number it will take you to the whole book. There is a very interesting discussion on the "ideal" cavalry horse.

There is no question that loading up a horse increases its work load and increases the risk of injury to both horse and rider. Yet it’s equally clear that focusing on poundage, to the exclusion of all other factors (quality of the horse; quality of the equitation; quality of the husbandry; quality of strength and fitness of the horse; etc.) does no favors for either horse or rider. Indeed a narrow focus on weight ratios, alone, is far more likely to cause injury to the horse and/or rider than prevent them.

Whether or not the 20% rule has any basis in fact is a question I’ve not been able to answer in spite of some diligent research. It is generally quoted as “gospel” everywhere but not supported by fact anywhere. There is a large body of evidence from earlier mounted campaigns that demonstrates that horses loaded well beyond the 20% standard have provided excellent field service.

Note that this is not an endorsement of loading up a horse like you’d load a mule (or a pickup truck). Rather it’s recognition of the limits of the 20% rule and a direct challenge to the almost religious adherence to it by some folks.

G.

jenm
Jun. 28, 2011, 03:24 AM
Note that this is not an endorsement of loading up a horse like you’d load a mule (or a pickup truck). Rather it’s recognition of the limits of the 20% rule and a direct challenge to the almost religious adherence to it by some folks.
G.

What do you mean by this? Are you referring to loading up a mule with a pack weight or riding weight? I'm not challenging your statement, just curious about your statement since I have a mule who has just recently been started under saddle.
:)

mysaygrace
Jun. 28, 2011, 08:30 AM
Well I spoke with one of my former vets yesterday on the phone about this subject & he agreed it is certainly a sticky topic. He said he has had to tactfully tell clients their horse & them are physically a mismatch. His suggestion was to let my husband ride my mare for a short period on the trail & she'll let him know if it's a go or not. I highly disagree, as my mare is one of those horses that seldom complains & will just do. So I'm not taking that route.

On another note we picked Charlie up at the vets last night & ultrasounds show it's not his suspensory. In fact they can't find anything which they said I should take as good news because if it was something serious they felt it would've showed up in their exam. Charlie is to be on stall rest for 5 days with bute 2x a day, cold hosing, standing wraps & topical cream Surpass. Then Tuesday we're to trot him out & see where we're at & call them back. They're thinking about adding shock wave therapy to his treatment & since the vets are baffled they're going to make some phone calls. There's swelling on both sides of the ankle which makes them think they're may be fluid in the joint pockets but it's not regular blood filled it's like jelly. Good news is he has nearly full range of motion & trotted out almost soundly & at this point he's pasture sound, which is really all we can ask for. The vet said he is no longer going to be able to do 25 milers but they haven't written him off as a trail horse quite yet. They feel there's the possibility there may be some scar tissue in there. The vets interestingly pointed out too all his lameness issues are coming from him horsing around in the pasture, not while being under saddle on the trail?!

So for now it's a wait & see thing with lots of finger crossing. Thanks for allowing me to vent on here, it has helped tremendously. Last night I did talk to my husband on the way to the vets my concerns with him riding my mare & he seemed to understand. He said he'd like to get down to 200 lbs before he rides my mare & that I could live with, maybe...

Guilherme
Jun. 28, 2011, 08:46 AM
What do you mean by this? Are you referring to loading up a mule with a pack weight or riding weight? I'm not challenging your statement, just curious about your statement since I have a mule who has just recently been started under saddle.
:)

The "mule" reference was a bit of "poetic license" in that we have many phrases in English that refer to loading up or working mules. Around here you'll hear people say, "work him like a rented mule." Remember the old country song "Don't Worry 'Bout the Mule Just Load the Wagon"? :)

Maybe I've lived in the rural South too long. :lol:

Piling on weight willy nilly or not at all being concerned about it is not a very good idea. Obscessing about it is also not a very good idea. There's a Golden Mean here, and it may or may not be 20%. More likely it's balancing the qualities of conformation, equitation, husbandry, fitness and strength (horse and rider), etc.

mysaygrace, your vet gave you a very rational and very safe alternative and you seem to have rejected it based upon your own personal feelings. This does an injustice to you, your husband, and your horse. I'm not a fan of "natural horsemanship" but I do believe that the horse in front of us, not the horse we see in our mind's eye, should be what we choose to work with. If the horse carries the man without incident then all's right with the world. If after the test you find some soreness or other problems then you know what you're dealing with and can make alternative arrangements. For now you're "neither fish nor fowl" and don't know what you have or don't have. That's certainly your decision as it's your horse but shutting doors because you fear what might be behind them won't lead to an efficient solution in an efficient time.

Touchy subject, indeed. :eek:

G.

mysaygrace
Jun. 28, 2011, 09:07 AM
Guilherme - "but shutting doors because you fear what might be behind them won't lead to an efficient solution in an efficient time." I never thought of it this way. You're right I sit here & worry so much about the "what ifs" and maybe it will all work out & I haven't taken that chance to see what my little mare is capable of. I do have a tendency to go thru life very cautiously to prevent the "what ifs" & sometimes I guess that isn't living at all.

wendy
Jun. 28, 2011, 09:19 AM
yeah, but the cavalry horses weren't lightly built 14.3 hh horses- I can see a stocky solid QH type at 14.3 hh being able to carry 300 lbs., but not a fine-boned lightly built horse.

Guilherme
Jun. 28, 2011, 12:13 PM
Guilherme - "but shutting doors because you fear what might be behind them won't lead to an efficient solution in an efficient time." I never thought of it this way. You're right I sit here & worry so much about the "what ifs" and maybe it will all work out & I haven't taken that chance to see what my little mare is capable of. I do have a tendency to go thru life very cautiously to prevent the "what ifs" & sometimes I guess that isn't living at all.

There's nothing wrong with caution. It saves on medical bills. :cool:

You always must weigh the risks against the benefits in any project. Some folks are more conservative than others and that's OK. It most assuredly does NOT mean they are "living less."

Do what you think is right, but don't fool or lie to or confuse yourself. There are lots of others to do that for you!!! :winkgrin:

To quote the immortal Davy Crockett: Be sure you're right, and then go ahead. :)

G.

ellebeaux
Jun. 28, 2011, 12:18 PM
Just think about the stress on your own joints when you are carrying extra weight. Any way you think about it, unnecessary weight is bad for us, horse or human.

You can suggest to your husband that a great way to get that weight off fast would be trail running or walking. He can have a horse in hand and help the horse condition, too! That way you could all go out to the trailhead together, at least :)

brightskyfarm
Jun. 28, 2011, 01:35 PM
The horses of the turn of the century were NOT like the horses today --- of Any breed.

Im old enough to say that in my childhood I rode foundation QH's from *out west* ----- that do not exist any longer. Even the horses shipped east are far from the type of foundation horses seen ...30-40-50 yrs ago.
Apps! Paints! Huge changes in those breeding programs.
TB's were the US Cavalry choice and yes, did carry 300lb men and gear --- you wont find (average) tb's today that can stand up to that.

mysaygrace, why doesnt your husband consider getting his own (new)25miler horse? and retiring Charlie to a program more suited to his current work load abilities?
I think just simply staying proportionate would be enough without nitpicking percentages, or exacting numbers. A rider has to feel comfortable and balanced when riding, the horse needs to feel capable of managing their jobs as well.

candyappy
Jun. 28, 2011, 02:44 PM
I think you should trust your own instincts. Only you know your mare, her abilities, limitations. You are the only one who knows how your husband rides also. I would think at 250 pounds he would feel very under-mounted on a small boned arab mare. I think your fear of injury to her is justified because you have a lot to lose if she is hurt. Nobody else giving advice here is affected one way or another. I am glad your husband was open to your concerns. Hope it works out well.

Has he ever ridden a small horse before? It could be one ride around the pasture on her would be all he needed??!!

mysaygrace
Jun. 28, 2011, 03:04 PM
Candyappy - my husband's first horse was a 15 H arab mare, she had lots of bone to her & hubby was lighter back then. I do know though once he got Charlie who's close to 16 hands he liked that feeling of riding a bigger horse. My husband is not a tall man only about 5' 9" tops, he has short legs & never looked too large on his arab mare. I'm just hoping his yearling filly grows into a horse that he can ride & be comfortable on & she can handle the work load. I still wish he would've bought an horse that was ready to be ridden now but he really wanted this filly. Guess we'll have to wait & see.

brightskyfarm
Jun. 28, 2011, 03:32 PM
msg, we've chatted on this before but to share with the others....

my personal horse policy has always been to have *1-riding horse* while owning projects. It gets tiresome always working with greenies, or young horses incapable yet of keeping up.

I also never want to push a horse ahead of their abilities as much as I dont like being left out of things I enjoy doing --

The downfall to this is that thers always been a *stock* of horses in my barn! this could be good, or bad depending :)
for me... its heaven! ;)

Napoles
Jun. 29, 2011, 07:45 AM
Ok, personally I would not let him ride your mare.

My husband events a large boned 16.2hh TB. He is 6' and weighed 182 lbs when he bought the horse. However, he felt that to be fair to the horse, he should lose weight, which he did. He now weighs 168 lbs and you can definitely see that the horse appreciates it.
I would not be ok with a 250lb person riding my 15h fine boned arab.. Husband or not, it's not fair to expect the mare to do that.
Just my two cents and I appreciate that it might not go down well with some people, but it is just my opinion.

AlfalfaGirl
Jul. 1, 2011, 07:30 PM
I do not own an Arabian, but I do board at an Arabian breeding facility that is full of little Egyptian bred Arabians. At first glance, they look delicate with their little dish faces, slender legs, flagging tail and narrow type chests (well, compared to a QH!). But I have come to find out standing next to them that they have broad flat backs, plenty of bottom and get up and go and are actually bigger than they look.

The barn manager tells me that Arabians can carry more weight than other horses of the same size and for longer periods of time. They are some tough little buggers. BM' little Arabian is around 14.3 to 15 hh and yes, I think Legato could easily carry a 250 lb man and run like the wind doing it. BM isn't a tiny lady by any means and is training Legato for endurance.

Darolyn Butler is near us and we attended a barefoot trimming clinic with her at our barn. She is a world class endurance rider and told us about a gelding that was not large by any means and that had had feet issues. A heavy weight rider started riding him and doing a great job at the endurance races they entered in and she said she had to take another look at that horse! She was amazed that he was doing so well carrying such a heavy rider!

I think that you will have to watch your hubby on the horse. I would never advocate hurting a horse for anything but I also know that Arabians are the toughest horses in the world. She may surprise you!

CosMonster
Jul. 1, 2011, 11:42 PM
Honestly, I don't think 250 pounds of balanced rider is too much for a horse that size for an average ride. My partner weighs about 225 pounds and used to ride a 13.3 hand fine-boned Arab on a regular basis before he bought his mare, and the little guy had no problem carrying him for a couple of hours. His current riding horse is a 15 hand Arab, but she has pretty good bone so I'm not sure that's a good comparison. I'm pretty involved with the Arabian breed and I've seen lots of large male trainers riding dinky little Arabs at shows and such, and the horses are fine. In fact, a compact Arab will often carry weight better than a big Thoroughbred or Warmblood with a longer back. Like Painted Horse, I might stay out of significant mountains (although we often rode in the foothills of the Rockies on the little gelding) and avoid the all day trail rides, but otherwise it's not that big of a deal for most horses. Of course, it must be taken on a case by case basis.

However, you say your husband isn't a balanced rider, and you're obviously uncomfortable with the idea of him riding your mare. I think you should go with your gut on this. I hope his horse winds up being sound or you guys can find a suitable replacement. :)

Calamber
Jul. 2, 2011, 01:22 AM
We begin with a question: where does the 20% rule come from? Why 20%, as opposed to 15% or 25%?

This rule was certainly not used by the various cavalries during WWI (and probably before and after that event).

The standard load of the British Cavalry during WWI weighed 280 lbs. (including the rider). This load did not include a steel helmet or winter clothing.

The standard load of the U.S. Cavalry was about 250 lbs., including the rider. Again, the steel helmet and winter coat was not included.

Loads of Continental cavalries were also quite large. The following description of an Austrian Army Cavalry patrol is found in a 1917 issue of the U.S. Cavalry Journal:

On another occasion in East Galacia, an officer's patrol of one officer and twenty men covered 342 miles in six days. The average load per horse was 300 lbs., and there were no sore backs. The mounts were of the stocky type, weighing about 1000 lbs., well bred, and from 15 to 15.2 hands in height.

Here are more interesting exerpts:

http://books.google.com/books?id=XuA4g2RCZS0C&pg=PA306&dq=army+rule+maximum+horse+load&hl=en&ei=Ty0FTuqFJqT20gHyu4jnCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwADge#v=onepage&q=horse%20load&f=false

If you click on any page number it will take you to the whole book. There is a very interesting discussion on the "ideal" cavalry horse.

There is no question that loading up a horse increases its work load and increases the risk of injury to both horse and rider. Yet it’s equally clear that focusing on poundage, to the exclusion of all other factors (quality of the horse; quality of the equitation; quality of the husbandry; quality of strength and fitness of the horse; etc.) does no favors for either horse or rider. Indeed a narrow focus on weight ratios, alone, is far more likely to cause injury to the horse and/or rider than prevent them.

Whether or not the 20% rule has any basis in fact is a question I’ve not been able to answer in spite of some diligent research. It is generally quoted as “gospel” everywhere but not supported by fact anywhere. There is a large body of evidence from earlier mounted campaigns that demonstrates that horses loaded well beyond the 20% standard have provided excellent field service.

Note that this is not an endorsement of loading up a horse like you’d load a mule (or a pickup truck). Rather it’s recognition of the limits of the 20% rule and a direct challenge to the almost religious adherence to it by some folks.

G.

Horses used in the army expendable too, might want to take that into consideration when considering cavalry guidelines, funny that the British expected the horses to carry 30 lbs more...... I guess our horses were happy for the Revolution too.')

Calamber
Jul. 2, 2011, 01:28 AM
Honestly, I don't think 250 pounds of balanced rider is too much for a horse that size for an average ride. My partner weighs about 225 pounds and used to ride a 13.3 hand fine-boned Arab on a regular basis before he bought his mare, and the little guy had no problem carrying him for a couple of hours. His current riding horse is a 15 hand Arab, but she has pretty good bone so I'm not sure that's a good comparison. I'm pretty involved with the Arabian breed and I've seen lots of large male trainers riding dinky little Arabs at shows and such, and the horses are fine. In fact, a compact Arab will often carry weight better than a big Thoroughbred or Warmblood with a longer back. Like Painted Horse, I might stay out of significant mountains (although we often rode in the foothills of the Rockies on the little gelding) and avoid the all day trail rides, but otherwise it's not that big of a deal for most horses. Of course, it must be taken on a case by case basis.

However, you say your husband isn't a balanced rider, and you're obviously uncomfortable with the idea of him riding your mare. I think you should go with your gut on this. I hope his horse winds up being sound or you guys can find a suitable replacement. :)

Thank you for saying this! I just rescued a little 14.2 h Arab with good bone but looks to be lighter in the body even in his good years (I have his 3 year old pictures, he is 20 now). I was thinking that I could not keep him for riding because I am nearly 5'8" and at 180 am not a lightweight (I know I need to lose about 20 lbs). I was really looking forward to riding him because he was a western equitation horse, a good trail riding horse and has had some dressage training. Can't wait till he gets out of his starvation mode and puts some more weight on, his topline frightens me to ride him so I guess I will have to work him on the lunge and over cavaletti to try and develop something there.:no:

Guilherme
Jul. 2, 2011, 09:46 AM
Horses used in the army expendable too, might want to take that into consideration when considering cavalry guidelines, funny that the British expected the horses to carry 30 lbs more...... I guess our horses were happy for the Revolution too.')

This is a half truth.

In discussing standards you also have to remember that you’re looking at several centuries of military equine use. In each era there were both similarities and differences from other eras.

The modern (post 1900) U.S. Army planned to retire (declare surplus and sell at auction) Cavalry horses at the age of 16. This was the peacetime standard. They were replaced with remounts that were 4-5 years old. Any regimental commander who had a "wastage" that did not meet this standard would be questioned about his procedures and practices.

I don't know what the practices were in the Artillery or in the British services.

In wartime the horse was, in fact, expendable. You didn't do such a thing lightly (nor did you do it with tanks, aircraft, ships, or troopers). Any trooper who failed to properly care for his mount could find himself, suddenly, in the Infantry (afoot, in hostile territory, and without most of his gear). But losses were going to be part of process and they had to be expected and planned for. This was not evidence of callousness or cruelty, only recognition that Gen. Sherman was right when he said, "War is Hell."*

The weight bearing standard, however, is the question. I'm still trying to find the "root" of the 20% Rule and I'm striking out so far. I did locate a gent who has a copy of the U.S. manuals from 1922 which allegedly cite the 20% rule. He's checking on it for me (but is also in the Texas State Guard on the Border and is a bit busy right now). So I'll be patient. :)

The reason for the higher British number is that the British tack was significantly heavier than American tack of the day. The 1917 Cavalry Journal article that published the British load put the tack weight at 43 lbs. The U.S. load was closer to 30 lbs. I think some of the British equipment was also heavier and they carried a few more things.

I guess we're still at the stage where the fat lady hasn’t sung yet (pun intended). :lol:

G.

*The actual Sherman quote (from his 1879 speech to the graduates at West Point is “I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!”

CosMonster
Jul. 2, 2011, 10:40 AM
Thank you for saying this! I just rescued a little 14.2 h Arab with good bone but looks to be lighter in the body even in his good years (I have his 3 year old pictures, he is 20 now). I was thinking that I could not keep him for riding because I am nearly 5'8" and at 180 am not a lightweight (I know I need to lose about 20 lbs). I was really looking forward to riding him because he was a western equitation horse, a good trail riding horse and has had some dressage training. Can't wait till he gets out of his starvation mode and puts some more weight on, his topline frightens me to ride him so I guess I will have to work him on the lunge and over cavaletti to try and develop something there.:no:

I see endurance riders who weigh more than that riding horses that size for 100 miles and being fit to continue at the end. You'll be fine. :) Because of his age and lack of topline you should take it slow and check him regularly for soreness, but I bet it will be okay. Good luck with his rehab and thanks for rescuing the old guy! :)

I do think having a strong topline is important. Really, that's true of any horse. I'm pretty light, but even so I spend a long time on the longe in side reins and ground driving to build up the back before I ride a young or out of work horse. I think fitness of both horse and rider is a lot more important than size when it comes to weight ratios. And I don't think that just because you're overweight you can't be fit. I've seen plenty of lightweight riders cause sore backs due to poor equitation, and some amazing heavyset riders!

I think that especially in the English riding world we're so used to big horses (and often small riders on them :lol:) that we lose a bit of perspective. When I first starting working with Arabs after growing up in the open hunter/jumper and dressage worlds, I felt like even the big ones were too small for me. Now, my ideal size is in the 14-15 hand range--a far cry from when I thought I needed a minimum of 16.2 hands! :lol: I'd probably like even smaller horses except I'm 5'9" and my legs are a little too long for them. ;)

Calamber
Jul. 2, 2011, 10:47 PM
This is a half truth.

In discussing standards you also have to remember that you’re looking at several centuries of military equine use. In each era there were both similarities and differences from other eras.

The modern (post 1900) U.S. Army planned to retire (declare surplus and sell at auction) Cavalry horses at the age of 16. This was the peacetime standard. They were replaced with remounts that were 4-5 years old. Any regimental commander who had a "wastage" that did not meet this standard would be questioned about his procedures and practices.

I don't know what the practices were in the Artillery or in the British services.

In wartime the horse was, in fact, expendable. You didn't do such a thing lightly (nor did you do it with tanks, aircraft, ships, or troopers). Any trooper who failed to properly care for his mount could find himself, suddenly, in the Infantry (afoot, in hostile territory, and without most of his gear). But losses were going to be part of process and they had to be expected and planned for. This was not evidence of callousness or cruelty, only recognition that Gen. Sherman was right when he said, "War is Hell."*

The weight bearing standard, however, is the question. I'm still trying to find the "root" of the 20% Rule and I'm striking out so far. I did locate a gent who has a copy of the U.S. manuals from 1922 which allegedly cite the 20% rule. He's checking on it for me (but is also in the Texas State Guard on the Border and is a bit busy right now). So I'll be patient. :)

The reason for the higher British number is that the British tack was significantly heavier than American tack of the day. The 1917 Cavalry Journal article that published the British load put the tack weight at 43 lbs. The U.S. load was closer to 30 lbs. I think some of the British equipment was also heavier and they carried a few more things.

I guess we're still at the stage where the fat lady hasn’t sung yet (pun intended). :lol:

G.

*The actual Sherman quote (from his 1879 speech to the graduates at West Point is “I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!”

I think rather than a half truth, I did not fully explain so here it is for those who look at such things. It is not adequate to compare warhorses and the policies which were made for the sake of efficiency and the hope of winning a war, which of course is hell (you think we might want to stop a few ourselves), with pleasure riding for peaceable purposes. Their guidelines were at the outer edge of pushing the envelope for the sake of meeting the hoped for end of the war. I would say that cavalry guidelines for weight bearing for the purpose to which we use the horse is not useful.

In other words ratio of weight of rider to horse is a fallacious construct. As some have said, many factors play into that equation, fitness of both horse and rider have a much more important role to play than a weight ratio. After all, in war, many were expected to die. I do not think much was taken into account as far as humane policies of practice for either the horse or the human. I am certainly not denigrating the great Generals Grant, Sheridan or Sherman, but they were fighting a killing war as Sherman expressed it in the quote you found (thank you for that).

Just by the by, the surest footed horse I ever rode on a downhill gallop was also the smallest, she just happened to be a Morgan.;).

Calamber
Jul. 2, 2011, 10:55 PM
I see endurance riders who weigh more than that riding horses that size for 100 miles and being fit to continue at the end. You'll be fine. :) Because of his age and lack of topline you should take it slow and check him regularly for soreness, but I bet it will be okay. Good luck with his rehab and thanks for rescuing the old guy! :)

I do think having a strong topline is important. Really, that's true of any horse. I'm pretty light, but even so I spend a long time on the longe in side reins and ground driving to build up the back before I ride a young or out of work horse. I think fitness of both horse and rider is a lot more important than size when it comes to weight ratios. And I don't think that just because you're overweight you can't be fit. I've seen plenty of lightweight riders cause sore backs due to poor equitation, and some amazing heavyset riders!

I think that especially in the English riding world we're so used to big horses (and often small riders on them :lol:) that we lose a bit of perspective. When I first starting working with Arabs after growing up in the open hunter/jumper and dressage worlds, I felt like even the big ones were too small for me. Now, my ideal size is in the 14-15 hand range--a far cry from when I thought I needed a minimum of 16.2 hands! :lol: I'd probably like even smaller horses except I'm 5'9" and my legs are a little too long for them. ;)

Someone told me he looked like a unicorn but he got so hungry he ate the horn! He is such a lovely little fellow. I am glad I came along when did, just in time in fact.