Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weighed Down

I have a lot of "Non Horsey" people ask me this question; "How much weight can a horse carry???" So I found this totally AWESOME article that answers just this question. Some people think that being bigger is a bad thing, BUT being too waif like can also create problems, the horse can ignore you or attempt to walk all over you cause of strength and light weight. We have a nice gal at our barn who is so light and thin that her horse sometimes blows right through her commands and ignores her. So it does go both ways. I personally get a little thrown off by this question (that is code for annoyed) only because ANYONE can enjoy horses, big, small, tall, whatever. I just have to remind myself that non horsey people are not as gifted and brilliant as us horsey people and that they can be a little ignorant :P

Courtesy of http://www.frontrangefrenzy.com/ridinghorses/how-much-can-a-horse-carry.html

"When asking the question, "how much weight can a horse carry?" you often hear a response similar to "it depends on the breed of the horse, its conditioning and conformation, how far and how long you will be traveling, the horse's bone structure, the type of weight the horse will carry (for example live [rider] or dead weight [gear]), weight distribution" and so on. So with this sound advice from your fellow horsemen, surely you now have a much better idea of how much weight your horse can carry. No? Of course not. Though your colleagues are correct in stating all the above factors, you are still left in the dark without any guideline on how much weight a horse can carry. Can my horse only carry 80 pounds, or is he capable of carrying 300 pounds?

Fortunately some very smart horsemen over the years have come up with a few methods for us to calculate a starting point to help determine how much weight a horse can carry. One very simple guide is to take the horse's weight and divide by six to give you the total weight, including rider and tack, the horse can carry. Given this, a 1200 pound horse could carry up to 200 pounds.

Another quick and popular method is to use the 20% rule. You take 20% of your horse's body weight and the result is the amount of total weight your horse can carry. For example, a 1,000 pound horse should easily carry 200 pounds of rider and tack. The 20% rule typically applies to competitive or otherwise "hard" riding. For pleasure riding, many use a 30% rule, so this 1,000 pound horse could carry 300 pounds for shorter pleasure rides.
Measuring a horse's cannon bone is used by some in determining the approximate weight a horse can carry. A measurement is taken around the circumference of the foreleg, just below the knee. Add together the weight of the horse plus the rider and tack, and divide this sum by the cannon bone circumference measurement. Then divide that result by two. A number between 75 and 85 is good. If the number is over 85, you probably need a larger horse. Using this method, I measure the circumference of the horse's cannon bone and get 7.5 inches. The body weight of the horse is 1,150 pounds and the rider and gear weigh 235 pounds for a total combined weight of 1,350 pounds. Divide 1,350 (total combined weight) by 7.5 (cannon bone) and I get roughly 185. Divide 185 in half and my final resulting number is 93. Using this calculating method, I either need to lighten my gear or get a larger horse to get the number down to around 85.
Some horse and rider guidelines where carrying weight is concerned:
Pick a horse with bigger cannon bones, wider loins, shorter back
Avoid using heaving saddles and only carry necessary gear
Make sure the horse is conditioned for the type of riding you doing
Keep proper riding posture and balance
Give the horse a break on longer rides - get off a while and let your horse rest
Avoid riding in areas where footing is not desirable - such as mud, deep sand, asphalt
Avoid letting the horse trot or canter
The maximum weight a horse can safely carry does vary by the breed of the horse and how hard it's worked. There is no absolute rule about how much weight a horse can carry, but generally speaking the lighter-framed the horse the less he can carry. A well conditioned horse or a stout horse can generally carry more. Some breeds are bred to carry heavier weights like the Quarter Horse, Arabian or Icelandic Pony. Riders with good balance also make weight load less of a problem."

Really? Arabs were made for heavy weight??? Hmmmm I'm a little questionable on that one, but still a great article...


Equus said...

Nice reference article, I bookmarked it to use in the future. It's a common question :)

I have to disagree though with a person's being "too thin" being an issue with a horse, particularly a larger horse. Personally I feel it has much more to do with how that person conducts themself. Granted, that same horse may feel more comfortable running over a 110lb waif than a 200lb guy built like a football player, but if that football player doesn't assert himself, that horse is still going to run over him as well. Body language is uber important; even "waifs" shouldn't have a problem working with a larger horse - if they do, they have to realise it is more to do with the body language they project (both on the ground and under-saddle) than their body weight.

Trainer X said...

I agree with that, but for example the gal at our barn conducts her body language well, but she's not physically strong enough to reinforce her body language I guess is what I meant LOL!!

Tash said...
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Tash said...

Just get a big black tank that neighs and call it good. I knew a gal once who gave herself such a complex over gaining 15 lbs that she ended up giving away the horse she loved.

S&D said...

Trainer X - I disagree about the "waif" getting ran over due to lack of weight, it's all due to her lack of assertive body language. Take into consideration the other thin women at the barn, specifically the one who has the stall across from me, she has no problems what-so-ever getting her much larger TB/Paint to behave - whereas first thin woman took a perfectly good well mannered smaller type of horse and has completely turned it into a nightmare on the ground and under saddle as well - it's all about body language and not about strength. That's just her excuse for having a poorly behaving horse.
If it was all about strength, then why are kids able to ride horses? They certainly aren’t strong enough to reinforce their body language against a 1200 lb animal, in fact, neither is the average adult – I am not a thin person, and there is no way I could out pull or push either of my horses, there is just no way when they weigh 6 times what I do.
As Mr. Barn Owner says - "these horses aint puppies" and you can't go out there with $40 of treats and carrots every night let the horse push you around, and knock your kids down, all the while your shoving treats in her face, and expect the horse to behave.
Waify woman doesn’t want a horse, she wants a Great Dane.

sterling said...

Actually, arabians can carry a surprising amount of weight compared to their size. They're tough as nails. Remember that some breeds were bred to carry full grown men and still be able to go places large horses cannot, or eat less food than a large horse, thus being smaller yet able to carry just as much weight as a large horse. Icelandics and arabians (the old type polish/classical bred horses, not the over-refined ones you see today) are able to carry quite a bit of weight easily.

Aylisha said...

I disagree as well...I have seen small but assertive (if you have no weight behind you, that is what the end of a lead rope or a crop is for) teens handle pushy WBs and even a draft or two. I have seen non-assertive and large adults get dragged around/run over by ponies and even one guy by a mini... So it really has nothing to do with weight. Same with riding. A)training of horse has a lot to do with it and B) training and confidence of rider/handler
As to Arabs..yes, they can carry lots of weight well...well, the "working" Arabs...those long backed, spindly legged show ring things that try to pass for real horses would fail of course. But I do endurance and there are plenty of HW riders riding 14.2-15hd horses with no issue. These horse have strong/wide and short cannons, good feet, and a short back and strong loins... And I have let friends ride my little 14hd mare on short "trail walks" that were around 30% of the horse's weight...no problems there...same mare carries me on endurance rides...with my heaviest saddle and pads I weigh in at almost 180lbs (though usually with her stuff I weigh in at around 170). She has no problems, as long as the saddle fits well (as I am finding out now...I am on a saddle search for her and the WRONG saddles cause her back to sore up...unfortunately her first saddle that worked AWESOME no longer fits, as she changed wither shape once she got in really good shape...that saddle was actually a treeless and she was never backsore). One guy even has thousands (literally...one horse is now in the endurance Hall of Fame)of miles on two Icelandics...looks funny at times cause his feet hang low (not dragging or anything..just not up high like on a BIG horse :P), but those little buggers carried him all over the place. Now he's not a huge guy, but he's bigger than I am...

The Margarita Girls said...
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The Margarita Girls said...

I think that it is becoming more important to really understand how much weight a horse can carry safely. As the general public gets larger, knowing how much weight a horse can handle is critical. There is a new line of rider clothing ("Fuller Fillies" http://www.smartpakequine.com/ProductClass.aspx?productclassid=7455#fulldescription ) that caters to heavier riders they go up to size 40 - which is a 46" waist.

I agree with Alyisha - when I was 8 yrs old and about 70 lbs I rode a 16.3 TB stallion (and, yes, he was BLACK!! LOL) for riding lessons. He did everything I asked - it's all about 'attitude.'

Hell, I didn't know any better - I just expected him to listen and gave him a swift kick or pop with my crop when he didn't.

Don't know if I would have the balls to do that now if I were just starting out.....


david said...

Horse can carry weight but how much i can't tell and guess also . because that depends on horse ,if its a healthy horse he can carry lot of weight .
English saddles