The Rider Weight Debate

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a nice break over the festive period.

January is the time the world is full of weight loss and health kicks. You may have also seen much more publicity recently surrounding rider/horse weight ratios. This has mainly been aimed at adults on ponies wherein the Great Yorkshire Show actually asked riders it deemed too heavy to dismount-awkward!

There have been a couple of bits of research but nothing with solid outcomes as such. Previously it was stated that the rider should be no more than 10% of the horses weight-which I think personally is ridiculous as most average sized women would have to ride a Shire Horse! More recently it was suggested more in the region of 15-20% was acceptable with over 25% beginning to show welfare concerns for the horse. I think is more reasonable but what many have questioned is the different breeds and conformation of ponies and horses.

It has been accepted for many years that Native Ponies in particular are capable of comfortably carrying weights much more than their size would suggest. Then perhaps in comparison we should consider whether a much taller horse with say, a long and therefore potentially weaker back with very little bone to the leg may actually weigh more due it is size but may not actually be as strong as something shorter and more compact? Then comes into the equation the riders seat, being that a more capable rider with a light seat would be much less strain on a horse than a beginner who may not carry themselves as well.

Anyway as yet research continues and there are no definitive guidelines on the matter so I guess we just have to use our common sense.

What I will say though is that we should consider on own fitness level and how this impacts our horse when we are riding. I don’t just mean our weight-but I think we do need to accept that being overweight ourselves is not good for our own or our horses health, but there is more to it than that.

In reality you could be 9 stone, incredibly weak and unfit and therefore your horse has to work harder to “carry” you than maybe if you were 12 stone but with lots of muscle and endurance and in turn actually had better “self carriage” whilst riding.
Secondly, in terms of health and your day to day energy levels; eating a predominantly whole food, unprocessed diet will give you more energy and you will be less susceptible to illness. I bet you give your horse the best diet you can………………….so why not you?

This January I want you to embark on that health and fitness kick to improve your riding and to have more energy to give to your horse time-I promise you it’s a better motivator than celebrity ideals. Although I am told the fear of white breeches for dressage season can be equally motivating!

And if you are like me and have a penchant for ponies rather than horses, I’ve got to get some weight off to get down to my “jockey” weight so I am below 20% of my 12.2h native ponies bodyweight-turns out the promise of riding my pony when she is backed is all the motivation I need to keep my diet on track!

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