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Am I Too Big For My Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   31st Jul 2013   •   3,320 views   •   0 comments
Am I Too Big For My HorseOne of the most common questions I hear when people are thinking of buying a horse or learning to ride is Ďam I too big for the horseí. Horses of course, aren't like shoes, so you can't just get on one and know by the feel if you've found a good fit. Interestingly, I think more women ask this question then men. Men who weigh well over 200lbs with tack never question that they might be too heavy for their 15hh Arabian or Quarter Horses. This probably ties into our self-image and what we perceive as nice looking, in addition to the comfort of our horses.

Generally, itís been believed that a horse can comfortably carry about 20% of its body weight. So, a 1000lb horse should be able to easily carry 200lbs. However, a more recent study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, suggests that horses should carry 15% of their body weight or less. The study suggested that horses that carried more than 30% of their body weight were more prone to physical problems. And, that means a substantial number of us are too big for our horse, especially when we figure the weight of our tack in. Humans have gotten larger over the last several decades, but most of our horse breeds have not.

Regardless of our actual weight, there is one thing we can do to lighten our horsesí load. We can learn to become better riders. The better balanced we are, the more in sync we are with our horsesí movements, the less stress we will put them under. The results of this one study hasn't really given us any hard-and-fast rules. While itís easy to get caught up in statistics and research, itís important to remember that the study did not look at a number of other factors, including conformation, age, condition and initial soundness.

So, whether you are too heavy for your horse has to do with a lot more than just what you weigh when you step on the scales. The riderís equitation also affects the load the horse must bear when ridden. A smaller horse may be able to carry a heavier rider comfortably if the rider rides well. A smaller rider, who is sloppy in the saddle can be more difficult to carry, even for a larger horse. If you've ever carried a toddler, youíll know what this is like. If the toddler is asleep, itís like carrying a sack of potatoes. If the toddler is squirming, it can be hard to keep your balance. However, if the toddler is holding itself up in your arms, itís much easier to carry.

How worried should you be about being too big for your horse? The best answer will come from your horse. Does he seem happy in his work? Have you done everything to make sure the saddle fits correctly, and when his back is palpitated, does he seem fine? Is your horse otherwise sound? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then itís unlikely your horse is over-burdened.

Image Credit: © Insima | Dreamstime.com
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