A weighty question

Recently, in the the equestrian press, there has been some discussion over the problem of riders being too big for their horses. This is a cause for concern for any riding teacher, especially at Riding Schools, when overweight riders demand safe and willing 4-legged conveyances for themselves but do not take responsibility for their own level of fitness. Heavy riders will fall more heavily and unfit riders tend to injur themselves more easily. Strangely, many people seem to believe that riding does not require any level of fitness. How often do you hear, "All you do is sit on a horse" and yet it is a sport just like any other sport, but unlike any other sport, your partner is a living breathing creature who deserves a bit of consideration. How long would you last in a dance class if you were so unfit that your partners had to carry you around the floor?

The last time I raised this question I was castigated on various forums but I value my horses opinions more than those of the "chattering classes" and when my horses tell me that a rider is giving them a problem, I listen to them, not the rider. After all, the rider has a choice about their weight; the horse doesn't always get to choose who rides him. Some riders are quick to criticise a horse for being lazy but if they can't be bothered to work on themselves, (off the horse) who is the lazy one?

However, not all my riders are "thin" and of course being too thin can be as bad as too fat and good riders come in all shapes and sizes. A larger rider with a well balanced seat, good posture and "carriage" will be easier for a horse to carry than a poorly balanced "slim" rider who is stiff or has no core stability and no muscle tone. And if you are the type of person who puts on weight just by looking at a biscuit it is very annoying that other people can eat as much as they like and stay enviably slim. However, I think it is fair to say that if you are overweight and/or unfit your progress will be severely limited and your horse will struggle. Follow the advice of Hollywood actresses "Eat less and move around more!"

If you are still in denial, try loading yourself up with some bags of sugar weighing as many pounds as you are overweight, (see chart below). Then run up and down a few steps and, (before you die of a heart attack!), think how much easier it would be without that extra weight.

WeightAcceptable Weight Range
Less than
Obesity Point
Greater than
5 feet 0"97-128 pounds <9st 2lbs> 10st 13lbs/69kg
5 feet 1"101-132 < 9st 6lbs> 11st 5lbs/72kg
5 feet 2"104-137 < 9st 11lbs> 11st 10lbs/74kg
5 feet 3"107-141 < 10st 1lb> 12st 1lb/77kg
5 feet 4"111-146 < 10st 6lbs> 12st 7lbs/79kg
5 feet 5"114-150 < 10st 10lbs> 12st 12lbs/81kg
5 feet 6"118-155 < 11st 1lb> 13st 4lbs/84kg
5 feet 7"121-160 < 11st 6lbs> 13st 9lbs/87kg
5 feet 8"125-164 < 11st 10lbs> 14st 1lb/89kg
5 feet 9"129-169 < 12st 1lb> 14st 7lbs/92kg
5 feet 10"132-174 < 12st 6lbs> 14st 13lbs/95kg
5 feet 11"136-179 < 12st 11lbs> 15st 5lbs/97kg
6 feet 0"140-184 < 13st 2lbs> 15st 11lbs/100kg

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