I have a lovely little 13.1hh pony who will hopefully be my dressage mount. I'm rather new to the disciple so I've asked my coach for a bit of help. While it isn't the ideal situation, she's about 5'11 and rides her about once a week, sometimes less. She's thin, but very fit and muscular from riding up to 6 dressage horses a day. Pony is a welsh pony. Not super fine boned, but definitely not a heavy type.
I've had some issues with this pony along the way, so its nice to have an experienced rider on her now and then.
She moves beautifully with my coach on her back. She lifts her back and looks so relaxed. Some of the time. She's also taken to rearing some of the time. Even though we have issues now and then, she has never considered rearing for myself. I'm beginning to wonder if it is my coach's additional weight.
I'm getting my chiropractor out to see her this week to see if anything is up, but would love to hear other's opinions until then.
My coach rode her Thursday and she looked terrible. Friday I rode her and she felt forward and light until the middle of the ride when she started just tuning out and she felt stiff. Saturday she felt stiff in her back right from the start and just seemed to get worse. I had a friend hop on her today to get a second opinion and she thought she felt horrible. I watched from the ground and while she didn't appear to be off, she had a choppy trot and a tense back and seemed she wanted to try but just couldn't. I was stunned to see her look so different.
Something is up, but I am wondering how much of this could do with my coach riding her and whether I should continue with myself being her only rider (I'm lucky being only 5ft!). I love the help my coach can provide me as its tough starting in dressage on a horse who knows so little, but I can't do much with a sore horse!
It depends on the pony but I usually try to follow the 20% rule of thumb, where rider and tack shouldn't exceed 20% of the pony's weight. I weigh around 110 and ride a 13 hand pony who weighs 700 - 750. He is a section C welsh cob and built like a tank. He is working/showing 2nd level and schooling third level. We have not had any issues; so, that may give you a ballpark idea.
I really do not know exactly how much my coach weighs, but I would imagine she weights more than 20% of the pony's weight. I figured if she was moving so nicely and looked so relaxed, then my coach couldn't be too heavy.
Now I'm re-thinking things. I just want to be fair to my little one! It would be nice to figure out what is making her sore. It looked like it was working so well and would give me a chance to learn a bit quicker.
Her saddle fits; at very least my saddle fitter says it fits so I would hope he's right.
Last edited by Clever Pony; Apr. 3, 2011 at 08:45 PM.
I also ride a 13.0, cob type.
Event pony, does well in Dressage & jumps 2'9 handily.
First thing I read-MARE- If the stiffness is timed along w/ her heat cycle it may be just that.
Rearing-Ponies really don't like to be ridden like big horses, and tend to rear as the first response of being "told" what to do.
Mackenzie Kurtz rode Harry Houdini to upper level, and she is 5'10ish, so it may be something other than just size.
I think it depends a little on how the pony is built. A more cob like (shorter legged and stouter built) pony is likely able to manage a taller heavier rider than something very refined, leggy and more lightly built. It also has to do with rider balance---an experienced rider who is well balanced and is in sync with the pony movements/balance is much less likely do harm than a rider with less experience/skill.
If there is a weakness in the partnership you will likely see it first behind with the pony adopting a wider stance and showing more rotation of the hocks in a circular sort of movement. The pony will also likely take shorter quicker steps in an effort to maintain balance. JM 2 cents.
There are things more likely to cause her changes than your coach's weight alone, though that is not to be excepted. But unless she appears to have problem carrying your coach, I will suspect something else, like soreness being worked more than before, or even being worked more correctly than before (thus using a different set of muscle).
You mention she is using her back more with your coach onboard. Believe it or not, that alone can cause soreness and stiffness because she is using muscle she did not use before.
Think of it this way: if you go to gym to work out three times a week instead of one time a week, you will get sore and stiff too. That is normal and to be expected. What to do? do more warm up and push through it, and then allow short downtime for the muscle to build up.
That's exactly why I'm asking this here. I'm trying to figure out if I should expect things to be this way and if not, what is the underlying cause. I do think my chiropractor might be able to assist me in finding this, but its nice to have other opinions and to ease my mind until the chiropractor comes on Friday.