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Rider Size Vs. Horse Size


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#1 Palouse_lover

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:09 AM

I'm looking for a horse for my boyfriend, who is over 300 lbs. What size horse would you recommend. I'm thinking a draft cross. Any ideas? Any rule of thumb to go by?
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#2 mehpenn

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:38 AM

I've got lots of personal experience with this, as my DH is 300#'s.
One thing I've learned is that taller does not necessarily mean it'll be a good fit.
My DH's horse is 16.2HH, which isn't HUGE but is larger than the average horse, especially in my area. And what I've found is that DH's horse is very difficult for him to get on. I'm not saying DH's belly has anything to do with it *clearing throat* but he'd definately have a easier time on a shorter horse.

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#3 Andi

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:57 AM

Height isn't an issue. The horse's build and weight distribution and conformation is. The proper saddle to make sure it fits the horse correct is important. If the 300 # rider isn't a good rider or isn't a balanced rider, that makes a difference. Using a step/mounting aid is critical for the horse's comfort as well.

As a general rule of thumb, figure the horse can pack about 25% to 30% of it's own weight, if the horse is in good condition, with a good fitting saddle. So, 1000 # horse can pack about 250-300 lbs of tack and rider combined, which usually means a 200 lb rider with a 50 lb saddle.

You want a horse with a strong loin, good bone, in good flesh, shorter back, strong legs and hocks, shorter pasterns and that weighs about 1200 lbs. I always worry about riding because I'm heavy (not 300 lbs) but with my colt Jake, I might look like crap on him but he's plenty stout enough to pack me and he's maybe 15 hands and 1100+ lbs.

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#4 Palouse_lover

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:26 PM

Tall would definetly have to be able to stand a mounting block, not belly here but knees.

Andi, Thanks bunches! Now, to get botfriend to tell me what he weighs...

Edited by Palouse_lover, 08 December 2010 - 12:26 PM.

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#5 mehpenn

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:50 PM

DH and I have talked about his next horse being maybe a quarter horse/draft cross or even a gatied draft cross.
For sure we're not looking for anything over 15.3hh, but with lots of body and strong legs.

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#6 Andi

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:59 PM

This is me and Jake, about a year and half ago; at the time, me and the saddle were right about 250 combined and Jake about 1000+ lbs.:



This is me and Snickers last riding season; she's about 15.2 or so, probably about 1150 lbs and me and the saddle were right about 215 here:



I have done some pretty good trails on both horses and they have done fine. Both have good conformation, good bone, good muscle, strong loins, etc. And I use a mounting block.

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#7 Wild Rose

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:32 PM

This is good information. If this is true, then little 12.2 hand Jedi (ideal weight around 700 lbs) should be able to pack me and a fairly light saddle around just fine!

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#8 Reiner0227

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:41 PM

I have usually heard 20% of the horses body weight as a standard. But really conformation has sooo much to do with it. A horse with a shorter, sturdier back and sturdier bone structure will carry weight much better than a horse that weighs the same but has a longer back and/or weak loin.

I personally think it depends on the horses confo/age. Younger horses it is better to stay on the lighter end of the spectrum, which was a reason I decided to hit the gym and hit it hard before I started riding my younger horses again.
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#9 KatyB

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:02 PM

I think how the rider is built plays a big part as well. If you are short and round, a shorter, stouter horse might work better. A really tall 300 lbs is going to need a horse that is both tall and stout. My husband is 6'6", about 260. He rode my 15.3 stocky gelding just fine (well, he looked fine on him - he also fell off every time he rode, but that's another subject).
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#10 Palouse_lover

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 07:20 PM

My honey is 6'1", so tall and stocky.
I'm still thinking a draft cross, at least age 10,super broke, up to 16h or so. Oh and it has to be black.... He's a color fanatic. crazy.gif
Thanks everyone!
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#11 dondie

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:14 AM

I was always told that a good balanced rider can be up to 25% of the horse's weight.
A beginner or a person with poor riding skills should only be 20% of the horse's weight.
I'm glad that everyone mentioned how important it is that the horse have a strong skeletal structure, a shorter back length and good muscle to carry a heavier rider.

I know a lady that rides an obese, long backed, severely cow hocked paint pony with long pasterns. A train wreck of a horse and thinks that it is fine because it weighs 1000lb and she weighs 325. The only good thing as far as the pony is concerned is that she only rides it at a walk. And since she is a crummy rider, she often makes unscheduled dismounts. So the pony isn't ridden for more than thirty minutes, if that. That pony is a perfect example of ignorance is bliss because she thinks it is Beautiful!
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#12 ExtraHannah

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:44 AM

QUOTE (Palouse_lover @ Dec 8 2010, 07:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My honey is 6'1", so tall and stocky.
I'm still thinking a draft cross, at least age 10,super broke, up to 16h or so. Oh and it has to be black.... He's a color fanatic. crazy.gif
Thanks everyone!


I think you are on the right track then! A nice short backed, heavy boned draft cross or even purebred draft would probably be just the thing. And black shouldn't be too hard to find. The other nice thing about having draft blood, since you want super broke/calm, in there is that they often are pretty laid back. Of course not always, but most of the drafts and crosses I've personally known were very quiet. Lazy even. I don't know that much about drafts, but would assume those bred to work the fields and such HAD to be quiet. You couldn't have a high strung horse working all day to plow a field. It would waste energy, be too hard to keep plodding on at a rather boring job and be dangerous as all get out. An 800 lb horse can be a real danger, can you imagine an out of control 1600 pounder? crazy.gif



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#13 Guilherme

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 10:01 AM

The average draft horse found in the U.S. was bred to pull, not carry. That argues against using such a horse to handle a heavy rider, no matter how "stout" the horse appears to be.

A draft cross might be a possibility, but will have to carefully examined for conformation.

One area to explore is the German warmbloods. Many of these were initially bred to carry heavy Prussian cavalry in the 19th Century. The load on one of these horses (large rider, armor, weapons, tack, etc.) could easily exceed 300 lbs. Again, the individual horse's conformation is the key.

Careful conformation analysis is essential. Not only overall size, but back length, joint size and quality, leg size and quality, etc.

Consider, too, that bone density can decrease as bone size increases. Put another way, just 'cause it's big does not mean it's strong.

The rules of thumb that are so common (anything from 15% to 25% seem to be the most prevalent) all presume good conformation. Whether or not they presume basic riding skill is open to question. Further, the rules themselves are open to question. Why 20%, as opposed to 19% or 21%? Dr. Deb Bennett, a usually reliable source for conformation analysis, says that 250 lbs. is an absolute limit on any horse. Yet, even here, we must ask why 250 lbs., as opposed to 245 or 255? And I've never heard her address the historical Prussian horses that carried large Junkers as a matter of routine.

Of course the large rider heavily stresses the horse. Average trail riding and basic lessons will not be a problem. Jumping, reining, or other athletic events are probably out of the question.

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#14 Palouse_lover

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 10:11 AM

Definetly nothing over basic trail riding. He's not ridden in years and is rather intimidated about the process but wants to join in with me and my passion, so....
It'll probably have to be a conformationally correct draft cross.
Thanks all!
Spotted rumps give me goosebumps!

Happier than I've been in my whole life! Who would have thought, just changing one little thing.....Not me!


#15 Kina Kat

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:23 PM

What about Haflingers? I'm interested in them because they're not tall but I'm hefty. flirt.gif But I haven't found any info that implies that they can carry a heavier rider.



#16 dondie

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:10 PM

QUOTE (Kina Kat @ Dec 9 2010, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What about Haflingers? I'm interested in them because they're not tall but I'm hefty. flirt.gif But I haven't found any info that implies that they can carry a heavier rider.

The original Haffies are a multi-use breed in the areas around the Alps. They plow, drive, pack, carry riders and are eaten. I watched videos at the Horse Expo of very heavyset people riding them up and down some very steep narrow mountain roads. From talking to breeders and owners the newer "American or Modern" taller/lighter weight Haffies don't have the same carrying capacity as the original European horse.
I like their calm, sweet natures. Plus, they are very beautiful with their great conformation and lovely heads.
A local breeder told me that a Austrian judge who came to CA to evaluate young horses as breeding stock. Told her that by the very nature of the dangerous mountain area they live in, only the calm ones survive. The wild ones either fall off the mountains or get eaten for dinner.

I really want to get some Haffies for my nieces, since an adult can ride them too. One of the big problems with Faith is that I can't ride her if the girls were having a problem. I just fell in love with her sweet nature and didn't think things through. duh.gif

Edited by dondie, 09 December 2010 - 02:15 PM.

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#17 Trinity

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 05:46 PM

Any reasonably decently conformed Draft or Draft cross will carry this person. Whether or not they were bred to pull, they carry a saddle just fine and seldom have problems with conformational issue riding. I worked at a tril riding stables whose drafts and draft corsses held up the best and worked longer and better than the regular horses. Proper fitting tack is important but beyond that they will trail ride GREAT for bigger guys. Just realize they get hot fast with the big muscle mass and you will need to go easier on them in the middle of the summer and spray them off or take a dip in the creek while riding to help them disapate the excess heat.


WE have problems riding them because they tend to be rough and bouncy as they have straighter shoulders and short strong pasturns from the selective breeding for pulling as a rule. That is the differnce in the "bred to drive and not ride" :)
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#18 equinitis

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 05:59 PM

Try a mule! You will get exceptional strength in a smaller package as well as the famous hybrid vigor, intelligence and sure-footedness.
Just my two cents as a mule advocate!






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#19 jnr_equine89

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 12:00 AM

QUOTE (equinitis @ Dec 9 2010, 02:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Try a mule! You will get exceptional strength in a smaller package as well as the famous hybrid vigor, intelligence and sure-footedness.
Just my two cents as a mule advocate!



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#20 Palouse_lover

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 12:04 AM

Thank you all so much for the input and education! Off to search for just the right candidate...
I figure it will only take me a year or so to find him/her.
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#21 nick

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 10:18 AM

hang on a sec, don't you have to have a LOT of savvy to have a mule without everything going south? this guy is apparently a beginner. (i'd love to have a mule but they're so hard to find around here).

to the OP, just research horses that were bred to carry weight. for example, icelandic horses are tiny but are bred to be "weight carriers". another breed to consider, although i'm not sure they're thick on the ground over there, is the "schwarzwälder", a small and very sturdy draft breed.

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#22 dgRuffian

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 11:29 AM

Hate me if you want but no horse, regardless of size and breed should carry more than than 15% of their weight if they have a healthy back to begin with. I know of several stables who will not let anyone over 180 lbs ride their school horses and for good reason. Their backs are suspended and are not designed to support heavy riders or packs. Which is why the equine massage and chiropractic business is so lucrative these days. I feel that some heavy riders think their horses are ok when in fact they hurt. Horses are stoic - they are designed to not show pain since predators look for injured horses. So perhaps consider encouraging your husband to lose weight. It is a win win since his health will improve and his future horse will appreciate it.
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#23 Andi

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 12:00 PM

With all due respect dg, I have to disagree to some point.

I'm over 180 with tack. My colt Jake is about 1100 lbs. By your calculations, I shouldn't put more than 165 lbs on him. Jake has NO issues letting me know if he's hurting or uncomfortable; a trainer put a saddle on him that didn't fit properly and he let her know by making her a lawn dart.

I've known LOTS of horses, LOTS, that will let a rider know when they are in pain. I don't think they are all "stoic". Heck, some of the mustangs I've had or known are the biggest complainers of things that hurt, so I can't buy into that theory. I have known ones who are stoic too; not saying they don't exist, just saying that most horses will let you know if there is pain.

Anyone ever watch reining or cutting or roping or steer wrestling or any of those events? Those riders are balanced riders with properly fitting tack. I wouldn't recommend a 250 lb person climb on a 1000 lb horse bareback as part of the job of the saddle is to make the weight better distributed over the horse's back. A 100 lb rider flopping all over the horse's back is going to do MORE damage to the soreness of a horse than a 300 lb rider who knows how to ride or knows balance.

That said, a greenie weighing 300 lbs needs to have a quiet, calm animal with strong conformation traits and properly fitting tack and use a mounting block. A mule is a good choice as they have a greater ability to pack more weight safely and will definitely let you know if they are uncomfortable in any way, shape or form! A well trained mule, of course, is in order.

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#24 exes blue eyed devil

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 12:47 PM

QUOTE (dgRuffian @ Dec 11 2010, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hate me if you want but no horse, regardless of size and breed should carry more than than 15% of their weight if they have a healthy back to begin with. I know of several stables who will not let anyone over 180 lbs ride their school horses and for good reason. Their backs are suspended and are not designed to support heavy riders or packs. Which is why the equine massage and chiropractic business is so lucrative these days. I feel that some heavy riders think their horses are ok when in fact they hurt. Horses are stoic - they are designed to not show pain since predators look for injured horses. So perhaps consider encouraging your husband to lose weight. It is a win win since his health will improve and his future horse will appreciate it.



I have only ever, ever, ever, EVER seen this rule at hunter/jumper barns, maybe for good reason considering jumping is one of the most damaging sports for a horse. We are talking trail riding on a stout qh type. I just don't think it is a problem. Horses may be able to hide injury for a burst, but there is no way they can perform daily if they are hurting, that just doesn't happen.
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#25 Guilherme

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:01 PM

QUOTE (dgRuffian @ Dec 11 2010, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hate me if you want but no horse, regardless of size and breed should carry more than than 15% of their weight if they have a healthy back to begin with. I know of several stables who will not let anyone over 180 lbs ride their school horses and for good reason. Their backs are suspended and are not designed to support heavy riders or packs. Which is why the equine massage and chiropractic business is so lucrative these days. I feel that some heavy riders think their horses are ok when in fact they hurt. Horses are stoic - they are designed to not show pain since predators look for injured horses. So perhaps consider encouraging your husband to lose weight. It is a win win since his health will improve and his future horse will appreciate it.


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#26 dgRuffian

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:52 PM

Well I still stand by my statement which is supported by research done by Ohio State.
QUOTE
When carrying 15 and 20% of their body weight, the horses showed relatively little indication of stress. It’s when they were packing weights of 25% that physical signs changed markedly, and these became accentuated under 30% loads.

The horses had noticeably faster breathing and higher heart rates when carrying tack and rider amounting to 25% or more of their body weight. A day after trotting and cantering with the heftier weights, the horses’ muscles showed substantially greater soreness and tightness. Those horses that were least sore from the exercise had wider loins, the part of a horse’s back located between their last rib and croup.

Based on these results, the study’s authors recommend that horses not be loaded with greater than 20% of their body weight. A 545-kilogram (1200 pound) horse, then would be best off carrying no more than 109 kg (240 lbs) of tack and rider.

Interestingly, this research from the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute has concluded with the same weight guideline that the US Calvary Manuals of Horse Management published in 1920.


This is slightly more than what I allow on my horses but then that is me. I just won't take the risk. I just see too many sore-backed horses from riders that are too heavy. By the time the horse begins to protest, it is sometimes too late.

Edited by dgRuffian, 11 December 2010 - 08:56 PM.

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#27 equinitis

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:25 AM

Nick, an inexperienced person needs to take the same care with a mule as with a horse. Get one that is well broke and work with a trainer to keep it well broke. Just like horses, you just have to find the right one. I don't know where in Germany you are, but I just read an aritcle about mules in Germany and it claims that they are plentiful! These people are in/around Honerath. Would love, love, love to have a Poitou!

I, too have to disagree dq. I think the percentage depends upon the animals build and overall health, the rider's ability/balance and the type of riding being done. Just like with the rest of my life, there are "rules of thumb" and then there is everything else!






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#28 mehpenn

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:27 AM

dg, going by your calculations most of the people I know who ride and own horses shouldn't be riding.... Gosh, we'd be a very depressed group of big boned people out here............

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#29 KatyB

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:36 AM

At 15% with rider and tack, most horses (1,000 lbs being average in my area at least) couldn't carry a rider more than about 110-120 lbs. That knocks almost all of us out.

I'm, um, heavier than that. My mare is about 1050 lbs. We just had a chiro appointment two weeks ago, and he found no issues with her back at all. I've been riding her for almost six years, treeless for the last 2-3, in rough terrain, long frequent rides. I feel like what we are doing is working fine for my horses.
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#30 Guilherme

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:39 AM

The Cavalry standard was as TB-type horse of 15 to 16 hands, weighing 900 to 1100 pounds. It was expected to carry 230-250 lbs. of rider, tack, weapons, etc. Do the math.

G.

Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão