In the equestrian world, one of the most frequently asked questions is “what is the weight limit for horse riding”? And even though the answer is quite simple, it still stirs controversy between expert horse owners and novice riders.
In this article, we will discuss how much weight a horse can carry and significant methods to calculate the horse’s weight.
So, let’s get riding!
- 1 How much weight can a horse carry?
- 2 Horse’s Characteristics contributing the weight limit
- 3 Height
- 4 Horse Conformation
- 5 Physical Conditions
- 6 How To Determine your Horse’s Weight
- 7 Methods To Determine Weight Limit for Horse Riding
- 8 Signs you are Too Big for your Horse
- 9 Horse Breeds that can carry Heavy Riders
- 10 Conclusion
How much weight can a horse carry?
Honestly, there is no hard and fast rule. A horse can carry as much as 100 lbs, 250 lbs, 300 lbs, or 500 lbs.
However, it depends on various circumstances and characteristics of the equine.
Here are some external factors that affect the weight limit for horse riding.
- Live weight (riders’)
- Deadweight (gears’)
- Rider’s height
- Body proportions
- Riding skills
- Behavioral issues
The above factors are more or less concerned with the rider. Though, one factor that contributes to the weight limit for horse riding is the saddle.
Some saddles are lightweight and never affect the weight limit, for instance, racing saddles, eventing, or dressage saddles.
However, Some saddlebacks are very heavy and have huge designs with additional parts.
Therefore, the external factors may increase or decrease the horse’s capacity to carry more weight.
Horse’s Characteristics contributing the weight limit
External conditions are not the only factors that contribute to weight limits. Equine’s characteristics play a vital role in setting the weight limit for horse riding.
The average weight a horse can carry depends from breed to breed under the following circumstances.
The key factor that adds to the weight limit is the height of the horse. Miniature horses such as ponies are not a considerable fit for horse riding, and you’ll rarely find them in the racecourse.
However, large breeds such as draft horses are robust, taller, and perfect for carrying heavy loads.
Correct horse conformation is a crucial factor that adds to the weight limit.
You can evaluate horse conformation by analyzing the horse breed for balance, structural correctness, way of going, and muscle health.
In essence, a perfect conformed horse for horse riding has broader cannon bones, wider loins, and shorter backs.
Equines that are not physically fit are never considered for horse riding. The physical conditions include the equine’s body weight, soundness, muscle soreness, and stress.
Horse age also contributes to the weight limit for horse riding. Very young and senior horses have a lighter weight limit than horses in their prime years.
All in all, the weight limit for horse riding depends on the breed, physical conditions, age, and body conformation of the horse.
How To Determine your Horse’s Weight
You should determine a horse’s body weight to understand how much weight it can carry.
Though expert equestrians can assess the weight of a horse by analyzing the breed and horse conformation. It’s still important to weigh your horse using more definitive methods.
Weight tapes are not only used to weigh the horses. Instead, they track any noticeable fluctuations that may cause potential disorders.
These tapes determine the weight of horses within 50 pounds. The measurements are not always 100% accurate. However, they give you a rough estimate of the overall weight.
Here’s how to measure your equine using weight tapes.
- Make sure that your horse is standing tall on a flat, even surface
- Wrap the tape around your horse, right where the girth would go
- Let the weight tape coincide with the zero
- Note the number on the tape where the zero hits
Weight scales are valid, reliable tools that give you an accurate estimate of your horse’s weight.
There are online tools to determine the weight of your horse. These tools take the measurements of heart girth and body length of your horse and return the approximated weight of your equine.
Please note that these tools only give an estimated measurement. For reliable results, we recommended that you use weight scales under the supervision of experienced vets.
Methods To Determine Weight Limit for Horse Riding
If you’ve been horse riding, you must have signed a waiver that includes your overall weight and height.
Now the waiver is not aimed at limiting you from riding the horse but assigning you the perfect ride according to your weight and height.
Well, we’ll walk you through the process of calculating the weight limit for horses.
Please note that these calculations are just estimated values that give us the starting point to determine the weight limit.
- The first method is the easiest to determine the weight a horse can carry. In this method, you take the horse’s body weight and divide it by 6. The result is the total weight limit your horse can carry (including the rider and tack).
- The second method is the famous 20% rule. The 20% rule usually implies competitive or hard riding. However, for pleasure riding, horse owners use a 30% rule.
To measure the weight limit by the 20% rule, take 20% of your horse’s body, and the result is the estimated weight limit for your horse.
However, a recent study suggested that well-conditioned horses should carry around 20% to 30% of their body weight for 100 miles.
- Some equestrians determine the approx weight limit a horse can carry by measuring its cannon bone.
To record this, take measurements around the circumference of the foreleg (below the knees). Furthermore, sum up the weight, including the rider and the tack. Divide the sum value by the measurement of cannon bone circumference.
The overall measurement is then divided by 2. The answer should be between 75 to 85. If it exceeds 85, you need a larger horse breed.
Signs you are Too Big for your Horse
So, suppose you’ve done all the measurements and applied the methods for calculating the weight limit. But still, if your horse exhibits certain signs, you need to reconsider the weight limit.
Here are the signs to find out if your horse is carrying more weight.
- Your equine sags in the middle and buckles at the knees
- While riding, your feet drag on the floor or hit poles
- If your horse becomes sore and uncomfortable, the chances are that you’re too big for it
- Rapid shallow breathing and increased heartbeat are some of the most common signs of carrying too much load
Sometimes, even if you are within the prescribed weight limit. Your horse will exhibit the above signs. That’s because of some external factors such as the saddle.
A loose or heavy saddle makes your equine sore and uncomfortable, which is likely to cause potential long-term damage.
Tips To Distribute Horse Weight Effectively
You might be the perfect fit for your horse; weight-wise, but still, your horse would seem consumed and exhausted.
To cater to this, here are some horse and rider guidelines concerning the weight limit.
- Choose a horse with broader cannon bones, wider loins, and a shorter back.
- While using saddles, avoid saddlebacks with heavy designs.
- Consider carrying necessary gear to avoid overloading your horse
- Some horses are not conditioned for mountain treks, no matter what. Similarly, a few horses cannot carry heavyweights. Whichever horse you choose, make sure it is accustomed to your preferred type of riding
- Your riding position makes the biggest difference while distributing your body weight. Sit upright and keep proper posture and balance while horse riding
- During endurance rides, i.e., 50 miles or longer, consider giving your horse a break. Get off and let your horse rest for a while
- Avoid muddy and sandy areas where it is strenuous to ride, and the environment is unsafe and unhygienic.
Horse Breeds that can carry Heavy Riders
If you are on the larger side and afraid that your equine may not carry you, fret not.
There are some larger breeds of horses designed to carry heavy riders. One of them is the shire horse breed.
The shire horses are not only bigger but bulkier than other breeds.
On average, shire breeds can weigh up to 2,425 lbs and easily carry 20% of their body weight.
However, if you’re a novice horse rider on the heavier side, chances are you’re confused about choosing the best large breed of horses.
Fortunately, all the large horses fall under one category; the draft breeds or draft cross breeds, which accommodate 33 different kinds of large horses.
If you’re a rookie horse rider, it’s recommended that you get the Percheron or Percheron crossbreeds.
Percheron horses are versatile, intelligent breeds with a calm temperament which makes them ideal for amateur horse owners.
Now that you know the answer to “what is the weight limit for horse riding” is dependent on various external and internal factors. We hope that you choose your saddles and races wisely.
Lastly, horses are athletic and powerful animals. Before riding one, you must have the strength and ability to control them. Once you communicate well, horses are quick to respond and train.
Happy horse riding!