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Rider weight debate -riders asked to dismount

(60 Posts)
Namechangetempissue Sun 16-Jul-17 03:41:24

Just catching up with the news in Horse and Hound and yet again 12 riders had to be asked to dismount this year after being found to be over weight for their ponies. This was at Great Yorkshire Show where 8 were asked to dismount last year.
I for one am really pleased about this. We show, and I am sick of watching heavy adults warming up and competing tiny ponies. Section A classes in particular were dreadful last year. I am well aware of the weight carrying capabilities of mountain and moorland breeds, but a 13/14 stone tall adult should not be showing or warming up a 12hh section A. I see so much of this in the warm up ring.
What do you think?

Isadora2007 Sun 16-Jul-17 03:56:58

I think that seems fair they were asked to get off!
I'm not a horsey person, sorry. But I wondered if the 20/25% thing was for horses too? So would an adult weighing 15stones be too heavy to ride a horse?
Sorry if thats a stupid question.

mrslaughan Sun 16-Jul-17 10:37:43

I think it's fantastic, and good on them a the- show that is.
If a pony needs to be ridden for hours by a heavy weight adult, to essentially exhaust it, for then a child to hop on - then it's wrong.
I just feel sorry for the ponies - if this is what they think is acceptable at a show, what are they doing at home?

britnay Sun 16-Jul-17 14:33:09

I am absolutely with them on this one, and I say that as an adult who rides ponies. I certainly think that an additional rule needs to come into place, that only the rider who is showing the horse should be allowed to ride it at the showgrounds.

Polkadotties Sun 16-Jul-17 15:06:35

I agree. I own a lump of an Irish draught and can put on loads of weight and still be 'light enough' to ride him. I wouldn't though. Horse riding is a sport, we expect our horses to be in good shape but don't expect the same of ourselves which I think is wrong.

Gabilan Sun 16-Jul-17 21:41:15

wondered if the 20/25% thing was for horses too? So would an adult weighing 15stones be too heavy to ride a horse?

Opinions vary but basically it's the same rule for horses and ponies. A horse's weight-carrying capacity isn't just about the horse's own size. In fact larger horses don't have a good power to weight ratio and since they're already carrying their own bodyweight, shouldn't be asked to carry too much of somebody else's.

To carry weight, ideally a horse should have a shorter back and short cannon bones (the lower leg, below what looks like the knee). That's just biomechanics. Some people will tell you there's a sort of blanket 20% rule, which would mean that a 700kg horse could carry a 140 kg (22 stone) person. Frankly I wouldn't put that on any horse.

It does cause considerable debate. However, my take on it is that if you want the privilege of being allowed on a horse's back, you should be light enough to be carried by it. My horse is a 600kg Irish Draught cross. I don't let anyone over 12 stone on him.

Isadora2007 Sun 16-Jul-17 22:10:33

Thanks for your input. I currently weigh probably around 14 and a half stones. On my pre-40th list (like a mini bucket list) is to go horse riding. I'm now assuming I should try to lose weight first? It is kind of also on my radar, though not on my list.

Spudlet Sun 16-Jul-17 22:16:14

It's not a simple rule of thumb, it depends (as possible have said) on a variety of factors. Conformation is a key one, but so is the horse's fitness level. You can't up a horse's weight carrying capacity by making it heavier so 20% of its weight is a higher number! The ability of the rider to balance themselves and thus be an easier load to carry and the activity being undertaken also factor in - a quiet amble along a grass track is far less demanding than cross-country, obviously.

Any good riding school will have a maximum weight limit, go with that. Although the lighter you are, the easier it will be, a half hour beginner lesson for a horse well adapted to carry weight is a far different proposition from a day's hunting or something.

Ethelswith Sun 16-Jul-17 22:18:24

I does depend on breed/conformation, and how active you want to be when riding.

Even a heavy adult can ride a 14hh Highland safely for straightforward hacking (they're a very sturdy type, and usually at about the maximum height you'd still describe as a pony)

I can't imagine how anything smaller could carry an adult.

Gabilan Sun 16-Jul-17 22:40:26

You can't up a horse's weight carrying capacity by making it heavier

I think the 20% is meant to be calculated assuming a condition score of 3/5. Or at least assuming the horse is a fit, healthy weight itself.

Isadora - phone up a few places and ask. You would be near the limit for some. But as Spudlet says, a one off lesson is very different from a day's hunting.

Ethel I will ride stout 12hh ponies. I'm about 9stone 7 so I'll only ride them for short periods if a kid is having a problem with them. Historically, adults have often ridden smaller ponies. And of course, it depends on the adult!

WellErrr Sun 16-Jul-17 22:45:36

About bloody time.

Spudlet Sun 16-Jul-17 22:52:06

Yes very true Gablina! But that's assuming people can condition score or know what a healthy weight looks like. It also assumes a degree of common sense in interpreting the rule, which as we all know, is not all that common grin

I used to work for an equine welfare charity - we would get calls about 'thin' horses which turned out to be the only healthy weight horse in a field full of fatties...! We have lost sight of what a fit horse looks like, so how many people are applying the 20% rule to horses that are already carrying, in effect, a person in the form of extra fat?

The AHT are doing research on this very issue, so if anyone can help, here is some info:

Spudlet Sun 16-Jul-17 22:53:03

Gabilan, sorry, it wa either autocorrect or Sunday night wine at play there grin

Ethelswith Sun 16-Jul-17 23:05:24

I suppose I was thinking of when I was told I needed to be under 9stone to ride a particular pony regularly (around 13:2 IIRC, medium/slim boned).

I ageee, it depends on how long the adult is to be aboard, what sort of riding and how stocky the creature is in the first place.

Namechangetempissue Sun 16-Jul-17 23:07:35

I think the main issue has been big adults warming up very small childrens ponies (think first ridden/lead rein etc) for long periods in trot and canter (and sometimes for jumping classes too). I see it every week and it annoys the shit out of me. A first ridden should not need an hours hard working in by an adult before a class especially one so heavy that it impacts on the ponies health and wellbeing.
M&M breeds are traditionally hardy, but a 12/13 stone adult should not be showing a 12hh section A -the weight distribution is often totally out too with a taller, heavier rider either sitting too far back or right over the shoulder. I'm really glad that this issue has started to be addressed by showing societies as it is an animal welfare issue.

Ollivander84 Sun 16-Jul-17 23:11:08

Isadora - I'm 15st 8 and ride but not at a stables so definitely check the weight limit smile
I'm very careful with what I ride, nothing young or fine boned

Butkin1 Mon 17-Jul-17 17:13:03

I can see two sides to this. We run shows and have a few ponees some of which are with professional producers.

I definitely think that there have been lots of issues with over weight riders and novice riders riding ponies which are too small for them. it looks awful and certainly in a class I'd be marking them down as the "picture" would be all wrong and the ponies would normally not go well.

I think it's particularly bad in M&M classes where the adults have not moved onto horses and still try to ride ponies they have long since outgrown.

I also know that lots of professional producers either ride in the smaller ponies to be ridden by their client's young children or get their in house stable jockeys to do this.

Most of these riders are extremely experienced and although tall are often very light and ride so much better than the average riders.

The biggest issue is that most show grounds won't allow lunging now and therefore it is very hard to work in lead rein ponies without a teenager/light adult getting on them first.

People will say that the little children should be able to ride them in themselves. I would say that putting tiny children (3 to 7yos) on Lead Rein show ponies at County shows without any form of working in is a recipe for disaster.

The sort of ponies that producers ride in aren't your average older plods but often 4 and 5yo babies who need some exercise before they go in the ring.

Whilst I think there is definitely a need for this to be patrolled I also think that if adults are stopped from riding the lead reins I think showing will become a class for the steady eddies rather than the ponies with charisma which is what showing has always been about.

Namechangetempissue Mon 17-Jul-17 19:12:47

We show at HOYS level (lead rein, first ridden and M&M small/large breeds) so I am very aware of the need to warm up certain ponies (some to the extent of exhaustion topped off with calmers and ear plugs!) but very luckily we have always managed successfully with none of this, even with the very young ponies. I will always stand by my belief that lead rein and first ridden should stand for exactly that, even at top level. Yes, we do produce the ponies with a very small adult (6 1/2 stone) and a very capable 11 year old, but essentially our ponies are fit for purpose by the time we get to shows. If not, we go back to the school and keep preparing. I am well aware that this isn't the norm but I take pride in the fact my ponies that are shown as kids ponies are kids ponies. We do very well so charisma can certainly we retained with a steady pony.
I think showing has a lot of issues at the moment and competitor numbers are dropping rapidly with a lot of big names switching to eventing and show jumping. TSR are currently looking at these issues with judging (essentially, unfair placings/marking due to pressure to place the "faces"). I have always loved showing, but I admit we haven't bothered with as many qualifiers this year.
I'm glad horse welfare is now being put first (or is getting there!).

Gabilan Mon 17-Jul-17 21:15:06

Spudlet - I do hope that survey works out and produces good evidence for people. I know weight is a very emotive subject and it's hurtful to hear that someone doesn't want you riding their horse but I will put his welfare first.

Sometime you do hear people say things like "well a balanced 14 stone rider is better than a novice, unbalanced 9 stone rider" and I think, is it? Do we know that for sure? Do we have evidence for the effect of rider ability and weight and how those are related? And if you asked the horse, wouldn't they rather have someone light and balanced? (Or possibly no-one at all!)

As for the showing world, it does confuse me that there is a competition to find the best hunter and some of the winners are animals you wouldn't hunt in a blue fit. Sure, they look lovely and have excellent conformation but you wouldn't trust them on the hunting field. Likewise, shouldn't a child's pony be a pony a child can ride? I know some very pretty ponies with lovely conformation and a real presence who will also look after their jockeys. But if it comes to a choice between charisma and whether or not a pony is steady enough for a child, well, I know which I'd rather put a child on board.

Holland00 Mon 17-Jul-17 21:17:25

Bugbear of mine, overweight riders in horses/ponies..
One of my horses is going off for 5 days in September to take part in a research study into rider weight.

Namechangetempissue Mon 17-Jul-17 21:26:54

Sounds an interesting survey Holland! Will they be publishing the results?

5OBalesofHay Mon 17-Jul-17 22:36:02

You are too heavy to ride ollivander that is just too much weight for any horse.

emma8t4 Mon 17-Jul-17 22:44:17

britnay that will never happen my friends daughter was lucky enough to have more than 1 pony at a time, so 3 leads reins (sp/sh/m&m) then later on a first ridden/12.2/12h shp and so on up to intermediates. It would have been impossible for her to work one in while in the ring on another (say 12.2/13.2) and then there will be clashes as well. There's no way we would have trekked long distances to big shows like Windsor etc (we are in the north west) with only 1 pony on board, so shows would miss out on our cash.

And I'll not go down the route of producers and how much money they bring to showing.....

Holland00 Mon 17-Jul-17 23:06:13

Yes I think the results are being published, I'll post a link here when it's done.

Ollivander84 Tue 18-Jul-17 06:06:44

50 - I am absolutely fine on her. She's 16.2hh, a lot of ID and bone and my instructor knows how much I weigh. You wouldn't look twice if you saw me on her

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