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Weigh too much for horse?

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  • Weigh too much for horse?

    I recently leased an Arabian from my neighbor and have been doing quite a bit of trail riding after about 26 years of not riding. I always had quarter horses and no experience with Arabians. The horse I am leasing is a 14 year old 14.2 hands, not sure of weight but stockily built, looks more like a Morgan, former endurance horse. I am 5'4" and 160 pounds. I know I am overweight and have been deligently working on losing pounds and getting back in shape. My problem is she keeps making little comments about me being a little too heavy for the horse. Since I only know about Quarter Horses is she right about me being to heavy for this Arabian? Nothing like being told you are "too heavy for a horse" to make you feel really bad about your weight!!

  • #2
    If she's so concerned about your weight and her horse, why did she let you lease it?

    Just kinda confused.

    Eileen
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    • #3
      Does the horse have soundness issues that you're aware of?

      A lot of things factor into how much weight a horse can easily handle. The general rule of thumb is that the rider and tack should be no more than 20% of the horse's weight. So at your current weight your mount should weigh about 900 pounds (could be less, but I don't know how much a saddle weighs so I gave it a little leeway). The horse's conformation and how well you ride are also issues, so it's kind of hard to tell without actually seeing you too in action. Also, remember that someone who is 5'4 and 160 lb. is going to look heavier than someone who is 5'10 and 160 lb. so your neighbor might have a bit of a distorted view on this. If the horse doesn't appear to be sore and is happily doing his job, I think you're probably OK.
      I love my Econo-Nag!

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      • #4
        I'm about your height (1" shorter actually), about your weight, and my Arabian is 14.2! We've had no problems, either for short arena-enclosed rides, or 4 hour treks across the county! They're a lot stronger than we think, and if the horse isn't having issues, I wouldn't either! :-)

        Plus there's nothing like an Arabian-generated aerobic workout to help get in shape!

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        • #5
          The 20% "rule of thumb" is often quoted yet I've never seen anyone tell me why 20% as opposed to 19% or 21%.

          One prominant clinician says 250 lbs. is the absolute maximum on any horse, ever.

          The Army remount standard called for a 15-16 hand TB-type horse weighing 900-1100 pounds. That horse was expected to carry 230-250 lbs. as a matter of routine in the field. That meant it might have to cover 30-35 miles per day, and maybe have a fight or two along the way.

          I think that works out to 21%-28%.

          Riding skill has a LOT to do with how much a horse can carry. If the rider is an "old sack of wheat" then 20% is liekly too much. If the rider is skilled in balance then maybe 35% is not too much.

          A proper saddle will also make a big difference.

          Also, are we talking about a slow walk down a trail or riding a cross-country jumping course?

          And, of course, the horse's height has nothing at all to do with its weight hauling capacity.

          "Rules of thumb" are just that (presuming you even want to go that far). Ride lightly and balanced on the horse and you'll do just fine.

          G.
          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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          • #6
            Have you ever seen the size of some men who ride western on ranches and such? They MUST be 200+ pounds and their horses are tops 15 hands. Honestly, I think you're fine.
            I love my boys... Miki & Apollo
            Rest in Peace Harry. 2-18-90 to 10-1-07. We miss you.

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            • #7
              My last high mileage horse was 14.3 and weighed 870 pounds. At a weigh in I would run about 220 with all tack. I weighed in with water bottles full, all gear including saddle blankets and bridle.
              My guy completed many 50's with straight A's and never once got pulled.
              I would not run him in a 100 since I felt the weight ratio was off but 50's never fizzed on him.
              At 160 you are fine.Arab's can carry weight.
              I have loped circles in the arena at 350 pounds riding double and he handled that fine

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              • #8
                Originally posted by hunterrider1025 View Post
                Have you ever seen the size of some men who ride western on ranches and such? They MUST be 200+ pounds and their horses are tops 15 hands. Honestly, I think you're fine.
                uh ya. My Dad is 250lbs and he owned a 14.2 HH QH that he used to gallop around on all the time. The horse fell 3 times though...but he was galloping him down a hill all three times...and my dad is a VERY poor rider. My Dad broke ribs all three times before he finally gave up riding like a fool. If my Dad had of been a better rider and NOT galloped the horse downhill I am sure the horse would have been okay and not fallen.
                My horses past and present....
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                • #9
                  I think most healthy horses can carry 300lbs on easy terrain. Now that would be a load for the horse...don't get me wrong. I just read an article last night by a guy who raises Morgan horses. He and his 2 brothers have competed against each other for years to see how far they can push their horses. He admitted to breaking down several horses in the process and was regretful. In the end he said that he only bred horses that were 15.1 or over because with a saddle and gear he and his brothers were easily 300lbs on the horse. They would then head off to the mountains of ride through snow all day. He found that the smaller horses carried them fine (so would be fine for arena work or trail riding) but for serious endurance riding or mountain riding that little bit of extra size and length of stride gave the horse more endurance. It was an old article from a real horseman. Is the horse sore? Check out some of the guys on this site. I think they weigh a hair over 160...tell her you weigh 125 and let her think what she wants. I weigh 125 too .....
                  Diamond B Training
                  “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
                  ? Rumi






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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rancher View Post
                    uh ya. My Dad is 250lbs and he owned a 14.2 HH QH that he used to gallop around on all the time. The horse fell 3 times though...but he was galloping him down a hill all three times...and my dad is a VERY poor rider. My Dad broke ribs all three times before he finally gave up riding like a fool. If my Dad had of been a better rider and NOT galloped the horse downhill I am sure the horse would have been okay and not fallen.
                    OMG The image of your Dad made me laugh so hard. Here, alone in my house. Your Dad must be a riot!
                    “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
                    ? Rumi






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                    • #11
                      Honestly, I don't go by the 20 percent rule.. If a horse is stocky like the old foundation Quarter Horses, those horses carried adult men, a western saddle that probably weighed close to 50 lbs., and never mind that they worked hard.

                      If the horse is built like a tooth pick, maybe.

                      My POA is 13.1 and believe me, I weigh more than you..

                      If you're a well balanced rider and not *flopping* around on, I see no problem.

                      Plus, like Roan said, why did she lease the horse anyway if she was concerned? I'd be inclined to end the lease if someone was constantly making comments about my weight I ride to relax, not have some insecure person making rude comments..
                      MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
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                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                        The 20% "rule of thumb" is often quoted yet I've never seen anyone tell me why 20% as opposed to 19% or 21%.

                        One prominant clinician says 250 lbs. is the absolute maximum on any horse, ever.
                        I've often thought the same thing and could never get an answer from anyone. Who came up with it? And there are sooo many variables, rider's ability, horse's build etc.

                        Even 250 lbs sounds a little far fetched to me (well, actually a lot)
                        How about Draft horses? 250 must feel pretty light to these guys. Did you ever see the harnesses those guys wear at pulling contests? Those alone look pretty heavy, especially the part that goes around the neck.
                        MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
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                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                        • #13
                          It really depends on the horse. I know someone who weighs more than you with an arabian cross the same height; her horse carries her just fine!

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                          • #14
                            I've always heard 20%, but it's totally just a starting point. I've ridden horses that, under this rule, I shouldn't be riding and they haven't had any kind of issues from that. Personally I think the biggest variable is riding ability. If you sit like a sack of potatoes no horse is going to be super psyched about it.

                            I don't remember where I read this, but can't endurance horses carry something like 1/3 their weight easily? I've never really dealt with arabs, but they seem like really tough little things. So again, unless the horse has soundness/soreness issues, I think you're fine.
                            I love my Econo-Nag!

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                            • #15
                              Arabians are typically short backed and stronger for their size than many horses of similar height.

                              That said, I've heard 30% for pleasure riding and 20% for heavier work.

                              I'd put a 160lb person on my 14.2 arab without even thinking twice about it.
                              Zahra - 8yo Arabian mare
                              Danny - 14yo Hanoverian gelding

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                              • #16
                                Alot of whether you are too heavy has to do with the horse's conformation and your riding equitation. A well balanced rider on a well balanced horse can weight quite a bit more than you and both be comfy for day long intense rides.
                                160 is average weight for a smallish man. I wouldnt be concerned unless the horse had under developed topline, or a weak loin coupling or something.
                                now, then again if your are bouncing around up there and struggling with your balance, well then, i would suggest lessons on a heavier boned horse and then come back to this one when your equitation is ready.

                                i agree someone saying you are a bit too big for a horse hurts Just because they say it doesnt make it true.
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by kayla View Post
                                  Arabians are typically short backed and stronger for their size than many horses of similar height.

                                  That said, I've heard 30% for pleasure riding and 20% for heavier work.

                                  I'd put a 160lb person on my 14.2 arab without even thinking twice about it.
                                  I'm glad this topic came up, thanks OP and contributors!

                                  Let me just say, I've just purchased a purebred Arabian who is 14.1 and 1/2 (57 inches) rather than the 14.3 as advertised and I actually thought, for a few minutes, that the missing 1.5 inches would make a difference in him carrying my 170lbs When I drove up to the farm to see him, the little fellow was carrying his 6'5" owner in a western saddle and moving easily...not buckling at the knees as we tend to think.

                                  Now, granted, I am losing weight <whoo hoo, bye bye blubber on my belly> but part of that is being able to RIDE. And thanks to this tolerant, talented, charming and sturdy fellow, I can really ride everyday (I have one retiree TB who can't holdup to really riding everyday and a young understudy TB that I'd best be in darn good riding condition for before I back him...hence the Arabian)

                                  And while I'm really sorry to hear that you're getting the bad feedback from the owner, I think if you see and know that the horse is not suffering, and that in fact the breed is quite able to carry the weight if they are structurally normal, then I do hope that you'll carry on riding and can enjoy it while tuning out the inappropriate comments that aren't based in fact.

                                  I haven't tried it, but have thought of it a couple of times in redundant meetings at work, maybe you could get some of those bright orange soft earplugs...put them in right before you're going to get the static from the owner....hehehehehe.

                                  Happy Riding with your new friend!
                                  Last edited by StraightAccord; Apr. 10, 2008, 01:19 AM.
                                  *Equine Residue Removal Specialist, First Class*

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                                  • #18
                                    I'm a overwieght rider myself. I was worried I would be to heavy for my Arab cross (aprox 15 hands, 13 yrs old). I was expecting some concern from her when I first started to ride her but no, it was like, what have you been waiting for, lets get out on the trail! I was surprised at how strong she was.
                                    Now, I don't plan to go out and do 20 miles all in one swoop without some conditioning first. I check sadde fit on a regular basis. I evaluate her dispositon also to make sure she isnt showing some stress. I attempt to stay balanced in the saddle and be a active rider so as not to become a sack of potatoes. I stay current on her hooftrims and general health. Use good horsemanship.
                                    Keep up on your own riding fitness and listen to the horse. A horse will give you telltale signals long before breaking down if he is over burdened.

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                                    • #19
                                      Everyone has pretty much said it all. I'll only add that yes, your horse and my horse and most horses would be better off over long distances and long hours with less weight on them. Over a distance it does add up. That's why John Crandell rides in a really light weight synthetic saddle with absolutely nothing on the horse, rider and saddle that isn't absolutely necessary. Weight will tell in speed and function, eventually, in a race and I suppose over the very long run. But are we all racing? Are we all riding really long and fast distances?

                                      If you want to lighten up you can do what I do, keep buying lighter saddles!!!! I gained 10 lds so I bought a Sensation saddle that weighs 7 lbs! Hah!

                                      Bonnie

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Shadow14 View Post
                                        My last high mileage horse was 14.3 and weighed 870 pounds. At a weigh in I would run about 220 with all tack. I weighed in with water bottles full, all gear including saddle blankets and bridle.
                                        My guy completed many 50's with straight A's and never once got pulled.
                                        I would not run him in a 100 since I felt the weight ratio was off but 50's never fizzed on him.
                                        At 160 you are fine.Arab's can carry weight.
                                        I have loped circles in the arena at 350 pounds riding double and he handled that fine
                                        870 pounds? Wow, that's tiny. My (barely!) 15 hand Arab is about 1,000 pounds and she's very small compared to some of those endurance horses out there. She's actually more like 14.3 1/2".

                                        I agree that horses can carry weight, but it totally depends on what you do with them. An endurance horse racing to win is a different story than a pleasure trail horse or an endurance horse who will finish in the bottom of the pack.

                                        I am 5'7" and 150 pounds. My treeless is extremely light. I am thinking of switching to synthetic stirrup "irons" also to eliminate a couple pounds. I carry a lot of water so I try to not carry much of anything else.

                                        Potato Richardson says that endurance horses have more trouble with stuff flopping around all over than the actual weight, though you should keep the weight down as much as possible also. But if you do carry stuff, make sure it is securely cinched down to the saddle rings for no bounce.

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