An often voiced concern of riders, both novice and experienced, is whether their body size is a good match for their horse.? Of particular concern is often whether a rider is too big for their horse, and how heavy a rider the horse can carry.? Although our horses are incredibly strong and resilient creatures, it is important to remember that they were not built to carry people on their backs, and thus, we have the responsibility to ensure that we are not risking our horse?s health when we ride.
The general standard for how much weight a horse can carry is approximately twenty percent of its own body weight.? Thus a 1000 pound horse should be able to carry about 200 pounds.? It is important to keep in mind that this is both rider and tack.? A typical Western saddle can weigh upwards of thirty pounds, so tack must be an important consideration.? However, Western saddles can also be comfortable for the horse as they spread the weight out over a greater area than an English saddle, which can somewhat mitigate the extra pounds.? Some breeds of horses, such as Arabs or Icelandics, are known for being able to carry a heavier load than others.? Typically horses with large, strong bones and short backs are able to carry more weight.
It is also important to be aware of what type of rider is on the horse?s back.? An inexperienced rider will consistently move outside of the horse?s natural rhythm, constantly throwing him off balance.? In this situation, a heavier rider will cause the horse more difficulty.? Conversely, a good rider who stays in rhythm with his mount is probably better able to ride a smaller horse.
Finally, keep in mind what type of work that you are doing.? Walking and trotting will be easier on your horse than galloping or jumping.? If doing more strenuous exercise and competition, it is going to be much more important to be in the right proportion to your horse.