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Polite way to suggest rider weight might be cause of horse soundness/behavior issue?

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  • Polite way to suggest rider weight might be cause of horse soundness/behavior issue?

    Going to try to keep this vague, as I truly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

    If someone posts in a public forum asking what could be the cause for a particular behavior/soundness problem, and it is obvious that the cause *might* be that the horse is a slight-built animal and the rider is...very heavy (my guess would be approximately 300 lbs.)...is it ever appropriate to mention that that might be the issue? Or is that totally out of bounds?

    People have gone off in 1,000 different directions giving advice on what they think might be wrong...but...it just seems very likely that it is a weight problem and that the horse may be in pain from the weight of the (also quite novice) rider. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed this, but, like me, I'm sure others are afraid to speak up. We need George Morris to chime in, I suppose.

    I normally feel that someone else's weight is not my business. But this person has asked for opinions on a problem with the horse, and I hate that the horse may be suffering long term damage if this continues.

    I feel like there probably ISN'T an appropriate way to bring this up. Which is a shame, really.

  • #2
    Do you know them personally? If it were someone that I knew, I would probably avoid bringing it up on the forum, and embarrassing them publicly. Either way, it's an uncomfortable conversation, but if it's face to face, or over the phone, at least it is kept between the two of you.

    If you don't know them very well....I mean....I don't know that I would do it, but if I read someone else saying it, I would really appreciate that the poster had the kajones to "go there", for the sake of the horse. They did ask for opinions...there's no guarantee that they will like the opinions.

    Comment


    • #3
      There probably is not a PC way to bring it up, but either hurt the person's feeling or the horse keeps hurting...maybe put out the facts about horse and rider weight proportions in general (there is a formula for it likely online)

      I don't think someone's feelings have to be protected at the expense of an animal's well being. I mean, this person knows how heavy they are and is either ignorant or doesn't care about the effect it has on horse.

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      • #4
        Quite frankly there is no polite way. That being said I am currently just under 250 lbs so no light weight. Do I know I am fat? Yes of course. I am pretty sure this rider does also.

        I am obsessive about checking with my horses chiro and massage therapist making sure they did not think my weight was an issue. Since my therapist is also my saddle fitter she has seen me ride so does not think that is an issue for my horse. But I know I am heavy and I know to ask. But I am not a novice rider so am fairly balanced.

        What I am trying to say is that addressing it with this individual may not be what they want to hear but really should not be a total surprise either.

        If you address it I would do it through email or PM. No sense throwing it out there in public.

        You could phrase it as "I know you may not want to hear this but have you considered that this particular horse may not be up to carrying a heavier rider? Some horses do not have the athletic ability to balance a heavier rider especially a novice rider who is more likely to be learning and hence a little unbalanced themselves."

        Would I be upset if somebody told me that my horse's bad behavior might be due to my weight? Yes, of course. But I would be upset with myself not the messenger. Maybe it would be the additional kick in the pants I need to really buckle down and diet/exercise or maybe I go buy/lease a big draft to cart my fat butt around.
        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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        • #5
          a trainer friend has a similar issue with one of her clients... the client has her own horse and occassionaly rides the trainer's horse. When she rides the trainer's horse, the horse sometimes off - trainer thinks its a combination of client's weight and the client's saddle. Trainer has tried several times to be subtle about the weight and it just goes in one ear and out the other... Sometimes there's no other way than to be more direct, however, I agree w/ the other posters that it should done privately and by the person's trainer or close friend...

          I just heard Dr. Sanja Gupta (CNN Health Corres) say that just losing 1 lb can help someone w/ arthritis... so one would guess the same could be horses... their load plus ours..

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks for the input. I don't know this person at all, in any capacity. We just both happen to be members of the same online group. But yes, I agree, if this was someone I actually knew, I would not post about it here for fear of them recognizing themselves and feeling terrible.

            Sadly, this individual doesn't appear to have a trainer or, really, any competent guidance at all. So I am reluctant to turn them off to the online group because it might be their only source of help of any kind. I think the individual might also be an older teen or possibly very young adult. Ugh. I hate this.

            It's really been bothering me because, even before this particular person brought up the behavioral/soundness issue, I had watched some of their videos (that they posted months ago) and thought "Oh no, that poor horse." The person appears to be very well meaning and kind hearted, and the horse appears to be well cared for in that he is in good weight, feet look good, etc. It is just pretty obvious to me in the videos that it is the rider's weight combined with lack of balance that is causing the horse's troubles.

            I will mull it over. Thanks, guys.

            Comment


            • #7
              As a fat rider myself, might it be easier for this person to hear it from someone who is a little on the heavy side themselves? It's one thing to hear it from someone who is 110# soaking wet, and quite another to hear it from someone who has walked a mile in their shoes, so to speak.

              There are a couple of blogs that have FB pages, like A Fat Girl & A Fat Horse and Eighteen Hands, that you might be able to refer her to for some advice as well.

              My trainer was quite frank, as in "XHorse doesn't have the frame for you to ride him."

              Quite frankly there is no polite way. That being said I am currently just under 250 lbs so no light weight. Do I know I am fat? Yes of course. I am pretty sure this rider does also.
              ^ This. It has to have crossed her mind; I have a 17.3 Percheron, and I still worry about riding him, because it's all about skeletal proportions, and making sure tack fits correctly, and balance, and a hundred other things.

              Perhaps a PM, with some helpful links, and starting with "Unfortunately, there is no polite or graceful way to have this conversation. Just please know that I am not mentioning this to hurt your feelings in any way, but to provide some options that might lead to a solution."
              Last edited by 2horseygirls; Aug. 21, 2013, 04:15 PM.
              "Let's face it -- Beezie Madden is NOT looking over her shoulder for me anytime
              soon . . . or ever, even in her worst nightmares."


              Member, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree that the best way is by a gently worded PM. As Sonnysmom and 2horseygirls have said, if the rider's weight is enough to be a problem, they are certainly aware that they are overweight. But if they're also a novice, they may not realize that a small horse can more easily carry a large experienced rider than a large inexperienced rider.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 2horseygirls View Post
                  Perhaps a PM, with some helpful links, and starting with "Unfortunately, there is no polite or graceful way to have this conversation. Just please know that I am not mentioning this to hurt your feelings in any way, but to provide some options that might lead to a solution."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2horseygirls View Post
                    Perhaps a PM, with some helpful links, and starting with "Unfortunately, there is no polite or graceful way to have this conversation. Just please know that I am not mentioning this to hurt your feelings in any way, but to provide some options that might lead to a solution."
                    I agree with this. I'm not skinny either, but it was my horse's soundness issues that prompted me to get serious about losing weight (lost about 40 pounds since February) and I was glad for the wake-up call, though sorry for my horse.

                    If you absolutely don't want to have the conversation with her, perhaps suggest a good vet who is also a chiropractor for her horse. A good chiro adjustment could really help, and hopefully that vet could approach weight and saddle fit with the owner as a cause of any issues they find.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Since you say you both are on a forum, others may also have PM her about this, as it is hard to come across in a polite way with certain sensitive topics in public.

                      Give it a try thru PMs and see how she responds, that was good advice already given.

                      Or, well, see where this goes a bit longer, an opening may show itself to say something yet.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Yes, I suppose it is true that someone may have sent a PM to this person already, although I kind of doubt it. The individual claims that the horse has had its back checked (I'm not sure to what extent) and that it's not a back problem. I somewhat question the competence of the vet, because the videos I have watched show a horse that is really struggling. Head way up in the air, back dropped, etc. While I suppose it is possible that the horse is struggling under the sheer weight of the rider in the moment and that the horse doesn't have acute back pain when the vet palpates, etc. when the horse is unsaddled, it just seems a little unlikely to me.

                        I'll think about sending a PM. I just feel terrible, because I'm sure no one wants to hear that kind of thing. And, while I'm not 110 soaking wet, I'm definitely not overweight and perhaps on the thin side...so I also feel like I might not be the best one to deliver the message for that reason alone.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The suggestion about it coming from another heavier rider is a good one. IT is a world of difference to hear it from someone who faces the same issues.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                            The suggestion about it coming from another heavier rider is a good one. IT is a world of difference to hear it from someone who faces the same issues.
                            Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone on that forum in person...so this may just be something where I have to hope that someone heavier will chime in privately. I just feel sad for the horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                              Going to try to keep this vague, as I truly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

                              If someone posts in a public forum asking what could be the cause for a particular behavior/soundness problem, and it is obvious that the cause *might* be that the horse is a slight-built animal and the rider is...very heavy (my guess would be approximately 300 lbs.)...is it ever appropriate to mention that that might be the issue? Or is that totally out of bounds?

                              People have gone off in 1,000 different directions giving advice on what they think might be wrong...but...it just seems very likely that it is a weight problem and that the horse may be in pain from the weight of the (also quite novice) rider. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed this, but, like me, I'm sure others are afraid to speak up. We need George Morris to chime in, I suppose.

                              I normally feel that someone else's weight is not my business. But this person has asked for opinions on a problem with the horse, and I hate that the horse may be suffering long term damage if this continues.

                              I feel like there probably ISN'T an appropriate way to bring this up. Which is a shame, really.
                              If the owner asked me directly, I would be honest, but couch it in old-time horseman's language:

                              "The problem is, the horse isn't suitable for you."

                              "Why?"

                              "He isn't up to your weight." Go on to explain the 15% equation the cavalry used to use to determine the optimal relative weight of mount and man. Any reasonable person should allow that this is realism, and not be insulted--after all, he KNOWS he's 300 lbs.

                              "That's the problem, and it isn't fixable. We need to find you a different horse." Explain light-middleweight-heavyweight hunters of yore. . . tell him he certainly isn't the first gentleman (or lady!) who has experienced this issue; and offer to help him find a more suitable mount, preferably half-draft or husky WB.

                              Maybe there'll even be a commission or two in it for you . . .

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Most vets will say 20% and with a stocky horse 25% is OK. After seeing these tiny Arabians and Pasos carrying big men with big saddles and often trail gear I KNOW they are carrying more than that and they seem to do fine. And the cutting and reining horses are TINY but they are carrying often HUGE men with heavy saddles. A heavier rider should definitely have a stockier, sturdier horse though, not some slab sided horse, if only for the RIDER to have better balance. It also depends on the rider's talent. A good rider can weigh more and cause less disturbance than a bad thinner rider. I'm big but I know my mare can carry me without a problem. I've seen how strong she is! I would never get on a 14.2 hand horse though or one of those slightly built Arabs or similar types. Even if they could carry me easily enough (and most probably could) I wouldn't feel right.
                                Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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                                • #17
                                  http://www.gaitedhorses.net/Articles/HRiderGuide.shtml I found this of interest when my heavy family members were interested in riding.

                                  I also like LE's reference to the old time horseman's classifications of a "horse that is up to your weight", ie a big strong heavyweight hunter that can go throughout the day so you can have a good time riding.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible

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                                  • #18
                                    Oh no....the "Fat rider" trainwreck. Fresh popcorn anyone?

                                    The good rider/bad rider, balanced rider/sloppy rider.

                                    Or the simple, "You're too bloody fat to ride"
                                    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
                                      Oh no....the "Fat rider" trainwreck. Fresh popcorn anyone?

                                      The good rider/bad rider, balanced rider/sloppy rider.

                                      Or the simple, "You're too bloody fat to ride"
                                      Too heavy Trak. Who is it that has the sig line "200 lbs of lady fat is heavier than 200 lbs of man fat"?

                                      We are so eff'ed up in this nation regarding fitness and body image.
                                      Underweight and unfit, overweight and unfit, we all love the stick thin and make excuses for the rotund. We're stupid.
                                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                      Incredible Invisible

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                                      • #20
                                        "your horse is too weak to carry you?" " riding this horse is affecting his soundness?"

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