How Much Can A Horse Carry? (Solved)

The maximum weight a horse can carry is 400 pounds based on the 20% rule. Most horses can safely carry 20% of their body weight. So a large draft horse weighing 2,000 pounds can theoretically safely carry a 400-pound person.4

Can a horse carry a 300 pound person?

Q: Can a horse carry a 300 pound person? Some horses can carry a 300 pound rider, but your balance is also important. If you don’t have a good balance then it’ll be very difficult for even the largest horses to comfortably carry the weight.

Is there a weight limit to ride horses?

When horseback riding, the rule of thumb is that a horse can safely carry 20% of its body weight. So, if you weigh 250 pounds, you should aim to ride a horse that weighs 1,250 pounds or more. This will help ensure the horse’s safety and ability to work. Balance is also a key aspect of how much weight a horse can carry.

Can a horse carry 100kg?

Maybe, maybe not. A “scientific study” has concluded that a horse cannot comfortably carry more than 10 percent of its own weight. According to The US Cavalry Manual of Horse Management (1941) a horse should not carry more than 20 percent of its own weight.

Can a horse carry 30% of its body weight?

Horses carrying 25% and 30% of their body weight had higher heart and respiratory rates during exercise, and muscles that were more sore a day after exercise. So, in short, a good rule of thumb is that an average horse can carry 20% of his bodyweight (keeping in mind this is tack combined with the weight of the rider).

Can a 500 pound person ride a horse?

The maximum weight a horse can carry is 400 pounds based on the 20% rule. Most horses can safely carry 20% of their body weight. So a large draft horse weighing 2,000 pounds can theoretically safely carry a 400-pound person. However, 20% of body weight is a safe, research-based estimate. 4

What horse can carry 400 pounds?

The Suffolk Punch horse is usually between 16 and 17 hands tall with a weight of 2,000 – 2,200 lbs. This means the Suffolk Punch could easily carry a rider and saddle weight of 400+ pounds.

Can a 200lb person ride a horse?

A: Laurie, the basic rule of thumb for a horse’s weight-carrying capacity is 20 percent of the horse’s weight, or, say, 200 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse. A strong, fit, well-coordinated but heavier rider can often be easier for a horse to bear than a weak, unfit, awkward but lighter rider.

Do horses like to be ridden?

Most horses are okay with being ridden. As far as enjoying being ridden, it’s likely most horses simply tolerate it rather than liking it. However, many people argue that if horses wouldn’t want us to ride them, they could easily throw us off, which is exactly what some horses do.

How do you know if you are too big for your horse?

If your feet are dragging on the floor or hitting poles when you are jumping, you should probably consider a larger horse… It is also true that riding a smaller or narrower horse can be more unbalancing than riding a wider or larger one and the gaits of larger horses differ from those of smaller ones.

Can a horse be 14.5 hands?

Hands and Other Measurements A horse could never be said to be 14.5 inches, as the number after the decimal is not a fraction, but represents an entire inch. If a horse is 14.2 1/2 HH, that means he’s two and one-half inches over 14 hands.

Is 60 too old to learn to ride a horse?

Well, the good news is that you’re never too old to ride a horse! * As long as you can manage to get in and out of the saddle, you’ll be able to embark on all the equine adventures you could wish for. Read on to discover our advice for learning to ride a horse as an adult!

Can a horse carry a gorilla?

The rule of thumb is that a horse can safely carry 20% of its own weight, tack included. A 200 lb gorilla would be no more difficult than a 200 lb man for a horse weighing in at or over 1000 lbs, which is pretty average horse size.

How much can a 500 kg horse carry?

As a general guideline in the UK, a rider should weigh no more than 10% of the horse’s bodyweight, but in the US, this limit is doubled to 20% of the horse’s weight. This means for a 500kg horse, the range for the maximum rider weight is large – 50kg in the UK (just less than 8st) and 100kg in the US (15st 10lb).

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry? (Weight Limit to Ride)

Despite the fact that horses are enormous and strong creatures, they have their limits. Any overloading can result in damage and a reduction in their capacity to function. What is the maximum amount of weight that a horse can carry? This is an important topic to ask whether you are new to horseback riding or an experienced rider who wants to learn more about the horse. Let’s have a look at this.

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry

The key to a safe and enjoyable ride is to keep an eye out for stiffness in the horse’s muscles. When transporting a human weighing more than 20% of the animal’s body weight, you should be aware that the animal will begin to experience substantial strain and suffering. Consequently, the maximum weight carrying capacity of the horse, including the rider and saddle, is 20 percent of its maximum carrying capacity. Keep in mind that the average western saddle weighs around 50 pounds (22.7 kg), whereas the average English saddle weighs approximately 20 pounds (9 kg).

Furthermore, stockier horses can carry more weight than the typical horse, making them more ideal for riders who weigh more than the average.

Never allow a young or aged horse to carry an excessive amount of weight in order to avoid damage.

Proper Horses’ Sizes for Particular Riders

What is crucial for safe riding is that the horse’s size is appropriate to your own height and body weight. For example, if you are significantly larger than the horse, you will find it difficult to maintain your balance for the whole horse ride. When you are too short for the horse, on the other hand, you will have difficulty using your legs efficiently. For example, improperly wrapping the horse’s legs around the horse’s body might cause the horse discomfort. The breadth and barrel size of the horse will be acceptable for you to ride securely only if you wrap your legs over its sides in the appropriate manner.

weight limit to ride a horse

As previously stated, 20 percent reflects the greatest amount of a person’s and equipment’s total weight that a horse is comfortable carrying. Riders should not weigh more than 15 percent of the horse’s total weight in most circumstances.

Weight limit to ride a horse

Horse’s weight Weight carrying capacity – 15% Weight carrying capacity – 20%
700 pounds (317.5 kg) 105 pounds (47.5 kg) 140 pounds (63.5 kg)
800 pounds (363 kg) 120 pounds (54.5 kg) 160 pounds (72.5 kg)
900 pounds (408 kg) 135 pounds (61 kg) 180 pounds (81.5 kg)
1,000 pounds (453.5 kg) 150 pounds (68 kg) 200 pounds (91 kg)
1,100 pounds (499 kg) 165 pounds (75 kg) 220 pounds (99.5 kg)
1,200 pounds (544 kg) 180 pounds (81.5 kg) 240 pounds (109 kg)
1,300 pounds (590 kg) 195 pounds (88.5 kg) 260 pounds (118 kg)
1,400 pounds (635 kg) 210 pounds (95 kg) 280 pounds (127 kg)
1,500 pounds (680 kg) 225 pounds (102 kg) 300 pounds (136 kg)
1,600 pounds (726 kg) 240 pounds (109 kg) 320 pounds (145 kg)
1,700 pounds (771 kg) 255 pounds (115.5 kg) 340 pounds (154 kg)
1,800 pounds (816.5 kg) 270 pounds (122.5 kg) 360 pounds (163 kg)
1,900 pounds (862 kg) 285 pounds (129 kg) 380 pounds (172 kg)
2,000 pounds (907 kg) 300 pounds (136 kg) 400 pounds (181.5 kg)

In any case, if you want to know what horse kind will be able to appropriately transport you, you should consult one of the online calculators.

An Ideal Horse for Riding

These are the characteristics that are most frequently taken into account when selecting a horse for riding:


It is essential to concentrate on breeds because some of them are more slender, such as the Arabian, while others are stockier, such as the Haflinger, and so on.

You should select the one that is the most appropriate for your riding abilities and your personal preferences.


Confirmation refers to the form or structure of the horse, as well as its proportions. When acquiring a horse, it is important to consider its intended use because this impacts the weight bearing capabilities of the animal.


A horse that has not been properly taught will demand a lighter rider since it is not as balanced as a horse that has been properly trained.


A horse that has never been used for regular labor and has not been allowed to run freely for an extended period of time is likely to be in bad condition. As a result, it will be better ideal for riders who are less in weight.

Body condition

The amount of fat present in the horse’s body is referred to as its body condition. A horse that is underweight or overweight will always require a lighter rider since its carrying capacity will not be at its maximum level.

Horse’s age

The carrying capacity of a horse is also determined by the horse’s age, since the very young and old animals demand a lighter rider.

Horse breed that fits particular rider height

Rider height Horse and pony breeds
Short rider, up to 65 inches (165 cm) Haflinger, Appaloosa, Fjord, Dales Pony, Highland Pony, Irish Cob, Hanoverian
Average rider from 65 to 70 inches (165 – 178 cm) Irish Draught, Percheron, Fresian, Irish Cob, Haflinger, Fjord, Draft Cross, Cleveland Bay, Quarter Horse, Lusitano, Paint, Hanoverian, Knabstrupper, Holsteiner, Morgan
Tall rider, over 70 inches (178 cm) Clydesdale, Irish Draught, Percheron, Draft Cross, Cleveland Bay, Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Knabstrupper

Rider’s age

When acquiring a horse for a younger rider, selecting a horse that is taller or stockier is the most appropriate option for the situation. It will be proportionate to the rider’s potential adult height and weight. A shorter horse, on the other hand, is more ideal for seniors since it makes mounting and dismounting easier and reduces the chance of injury.

The Best Horse Breeds for Beginners

Equine companions that are simple to teach and retain positive memories of their training are the most suitable for inexperienced riders.


Morgans are a kind and fearless breed that is always willing to satisfy its owners. It will put out great effort in working with any riders and will be consistent in determining their needs.


Because of its lively demeanor and proclivity to roll around in the mud, the Friesian is sometimes compared to a Labrador Retriever (Lab). In addition, because horses are loyal to their owners, it is the perfect option for riders who desire a long-term engagement with their mount.


Many beginning riders are intimidated by the prospect of riding a large horse, therefore the Icelandic horse is a good compromise. A rider, particularly an inexperienced one, will find it more comfortable because of its height and the smooth rendition of a rapid stroll that it offers.

Tennessee Walking Horse

Its walk is so smooth that you may comfortably have a cup of tea while riding it. Additionally, it is a fantastic answer for individuals who have saddle soreness after a lengthy riding session.

Connemara Pony

Connemara Pony started out as a farm worker and eventually became more. Due to the fact that this horse stands around 14 hands or 56 inches (1.42 m) tall, it is ideal for accommodating shorter equestrian riders. Despite the fact that it is a pony of a smaller breed, it is an athletic animal that will become a faithful companion in future contests for you.

Welsh Cob

Welsh Cob horses were developed via crossbreeding between the Welsh Mountain Pony and bigger breeds such as Arabians or Thoroughbreds. The fact that it may be used in a variety of disciplines makes it popular among European riding schools.

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The Best Horse Breeds for Plus-sized Riders

Despite the fact that horse size and strength can vary within a single breed, some horses are regarded to be the ideal choice for plus-size riders due to their size and strength.

These horses have good, firm hooves, thicker bones, and are often larger and stronger than other breeds.


Appaloosas belong into the group of shorter horses, making them more suited for riders who are shorter or larger in stature than other breeds. They tend to have placid demeanor, which allows them to be an excellent fit for riders of all skill levels. Traditionally, this breed has been employed in western disciplines like as cutting and reining, among others.


As a result of their height and the size of their barrels, Clydesdales are the greatest horses for tall and plus-sized riders. However, despite their outgoing personality, they are not appropriate for all riding styles. Although they are not very adept at jumping, they are an excellent choice for pleasure riding on trails, pulling, and driving duties.

Dales Pony

Dales Ponies are a suitable match for riders who are shorter in stature and average in height and weight. They are well-known for their courageous demeanor and for their outstanding performance in driving contests. They are also good jumpers, excellent for dressage, and well-suited for leisure horseback riding as well.


Despite the fact that most of them aren’t particularly stocky, Hanoverians are suitable for riders of all sizes. Because of their exceptional athletic abilities, they make excellent sport horses. This is why jumpers for dressage and competitions are made out of them.

The Horse’s Purpose

Another important consideration when acquiring a horse is determining whether or not the horse is fit for the discipline in which it will be utilized. Horses of a lower stature are more suited to barrel racing or gymkhanas, whilst taller animals are better suited to dressage. Furthermore, some disciplines need a greater amount of horse labor. This covers elements such as how frequently and for how long you bike, as well as how strenuous the ride is. The greater the intensity of the effort, the less weight the horse is capable of towing at a given time.


Because the average rider is becoming heavier, it is important to ensure that the horse does not get overburdened. As a result, if you keep your animal’s weight within reasonable bounds, its performance in the duties you assign it will be improved. As a consequence, you will have a long-term partner in your endeavors in the coming years.

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

While the majority of healthy horses are capable of carrying a rider and a saddle, they do have their limitations. In recent years, experts have established a weight threshold at which a rider is too heavy for a horse to comfortably carry. According to the experts, their conclusions are based on thorough data gathered from eight horses that were ridden while carrying ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their total weight. The horses’ weights ranged from 400 to 625 kilos, depending on their size (885 to 1375 pounds).

Physical indicators altered dramatically when they were packing weights of 25 percent, and they got much more pronounced when they were packing weights of 30 percent.

Following a day of trotting and cantering with heavier weights, the horses’ muscles showed much more discomfort and tightness than the previous day.

In light of these findings, the authors of the research urge that horses should not be loaded with more than 20% of their body weight at any given time.

It’s interesting to note that this research from the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute has come to the same conclusion as the US Calvary Manuals of Horse Management, which were first published in 1920.

Guidelines for weight-carrying capacity of horses

Following the 20-percent guideline and taking into account factors such as fitness, conformation, exercise level, and equipment, you may calculate the acceptable carrying capacity of your horse. Understanding your horse’s weight-bearing capability will help you to ensure their wellbeing and a long-lasting connection for many years to come.

Common activities where horses carry weight

Horse owners in the United States frequently employ their animals for both leisure and competitive riding purposes. According to a recent government census, the most common use of horses in the United States is for enjoyment (47 percent), which might include everything from trail riding to arena training. Farm and ranch work, which might entail sorting livestock, carrying equipment in packs, and dragging carts or timber, came in second with a quarter of the vote. We must take into consideration the welfare of our equine companions while asking them to partake in these activities with us.

Researchers have looked into the optimal weight bearing capacity of horses in order to assist in determining what this should be.

How much weight can your horse carry?

In 2008, researchers at Ohio University examined the effects of rider and tack weight on the performance of horses. While carrying weights weighing 15, 20, 25, and 35% of their bodyweight, the horses’ heart rate, breathing rate, rectal temperature, loin muscle condition, and overall health were all measured. Using an average adult light riding horse, the researchers discovered that they could comfortably carry around 20 percent of their optimal bodyweight. This outcome is consistent with the value recommended by the Certified Horsemanship Association and the United States Cavalry Manuals of Horse Management, both of which were published in 1920.

What affects how much your horse can carry?

| Researchers in Ohio discovered that the breadth of the loin and the size of the cannon bone are related to the animal’s weight bearing capabilities. Horses with broader loins and larger cannon bone circumferences experienced less muscular discomfort as the weight of their load was raised. As a result of this discovery, the 20-percent rule appears to be an excellent starting point. Another research looked at Arabian endurance horses who were carrying between 20 and 30 percent of their body weight at the time of the investigation.

  • smaller cannon bone circumference).
  • In addition, despite their small stature, Icelandic horses are sometimes seen hauling adult riders on their backs.
  • They discovered that the horses did not experience muscular pain after one to two days of labor and that the majority of them were able to operate aerobically (with oxygen) until they achieved a weight load of 23 percent of their body weight.
  • When oxygen is scarce, the horse must seek alternate paths, which can result in the accumulation of lactic acid and the pain of the muscles in the process.
  • The reduction in stride length, on the other hand, had no effect on stride symmetry.
  • In addition, as compared to a horse with long legs and a long, weak back, this horse will have a lower center of gravity.
  • Weight bearing ability may also be affected by the fitness and balance of the horse and rider.

When a horse is out of shape or out of balance, he will lack the strength to properly elevate his back and support the weight of the rider while keeping his or her own balance.

In addition, an inexperienced rider can throw off the balance of a horse as they attempt to maintain proper riding posture while simultaneously combating the consequences of muscular exhaustion.

These activities should only be attempted if the horses and riders are in good enough condition to do so.

Your saddle should be properly fitted to your horse’s back so that the weight of the rider is distributed as evenly as possible without pinching or creating muscular tightness.

A balanced, smooth surface for weight bearing should be achieved via trimming the hooves.

Consult a respected equine specialist such as your farrier or veterinarian for guidance on whether to add shoes or protective boots to horses whose hooves are wearing down faster than they can regenerate or for horses with thin soles before making this decision. In 2019, the situation was reviewed.

8 Best Horse Breeds for Heavy Riders (Over 250 pounds)

If you weigh 250 lbs or more, you can still enjoy horseback riding as long as you ride the appropriate horse for your weight. The safety of the horse and rider should always take first, which is why it is critical to pick the correct horse breed that is capable of carrying hefty riders. Please keep in mind that we are not providing medical or veterinary advice on this website. Always consult with your veterinarian before riding to ensure that you are riding your horse in a safe manner.

Finding the Right Horse Breed for Heavy Riders

As a general rule of thumb, a horse can comfortably carry 20 percent of its own body weight during horseback riding. As a result, if you weigh 250 pounds, you should strive to ride a horse that weighs at least 1,250 pounds. This will assist to assure the horse’s safety as well as his capacity to perform his job. The ability of a horse to carry a large amount of weight is also dependent on its ability to maintain balance. Fit and balanced riders are more likely to have an easier time supporting their horses than uncoordinated riders who might throw off the horse’s balance and induce tiredness.

8 Best Horse Breeds for Heavy Riders

Riding larger breeds of horses is frequently the best option for riders who weigh more than 250 pounds. A horse does not always have to be taller in order to be more durable, but they should be built with strength in mind. The ability to bear additional weight will be greater in horses with a stockier body than in polished, lean types. The circumference of the cannon bone is frequently used to determine the strength of a horse. Because the cannon bone is a weight-bearing bone, horses with bigger cannon bones are frequently able to sustain greater weight.


Clydesdales are huge horses that stand between 16 and 18 hands high and make excellent riding companions for larger riders. In fact, they are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to riding horses for show and pleasure. Because of their stocky physique and kind dispositions, they are suitable for riders of all abilities. With an average Clydesdale weighing between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds, they have a carrying capacity of around 320 pounds. That is approximately the weight of a 280-pound rider wearing a saddle weighing around 40 pounds.

Thiscold-blooded horse breedis known for being kind and loving, which makes them excellent riding mounts for beginners and experienced riders alike.


Shire horses are one of the largest horse breeds in the world, and they are both strong and docile. They may make excellent riding partners, despite the fact that they are not often considered of as such by horse enthusiasts. With an average Shire weighing between 1,700 and 2,000 pounds, they have a carrying capacity of around 340 pounds. That is approximately the weight of a 300-pound rider wearing a saddle weighing around 40 pounds.

Despite their massive size, they are rather agile, which makes them excellent mounts for riders who want to be on the go. Shires were also included in our list of the finest horse breeds for beginning riders, which included Shires.


The Friesian horse is a superb riding companion because he is elegant, graceful, and strong. It is well-known for its energetic gaits and attractive carriage, as well as its long hair and feathered hooves In most cases, an AFriesian will have 15-17 hands on the table. For a Friesian to properly transport a rider weighing 250 pounds while also carrying a saddle weighing around 20 pounds, the Friesian must weigh approximately 1,360 pounds. Horses of this breed are well-known for their versatility, since they are frequently displayed in categories like saddle seat, hunt seat, western, dressage, and driving, among others.

Please also have a look at our post, “8 facts you didn’t know about the Friesian horse breed,” for more information.

Irish Draught

Irish Draughts are about 15-17 hands in height and weigh between 1,300 and 1,400 pounds on average. In order for an Irish Draught to properly transport a large rider weighing over 250 pounds while also carrying a saddle weighing around 20 pounds, the Irish Draught must weigh at least 1,360 pounds. Their powerful physique, along with their athletic disposition, make them excellent partners for all sorts of riders, whether they are tiny or of bigger stature. They frequently perform well in dressage and jumping, and they make wonderful show or pleasure horses as a result.

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They are well-known for their level-headed demeanor and their incredible endurance.


Photograph courtesy of Criadero Sumatambo The Percheron breed is renowned for its strength and dedication to its task. These gentle giants are most usually employed for driving and farmwork, but some of them may also make excellent saddle horses if they are properly trained. Percheron’s typical weight is between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds, and they have a carrying capacity of around 360 pounds. That is approximately the weight of a 320-pound rider plus the weight of a saddle that is around 40 pounds.

Despite the fact that they are not traditionally considered of as riding horses, many heavy riders have discovered that they make reliable mounts.

Spotted Draft Horse

When fully loaded, a typical American Cream Draft can carry up to 300 pounds. It weighs between 1,500 and 1,600 pounds and stands 16-17 feet tall. This is about the weight of a 260-pound rider with tack that can weigh up to 40 pounds combined. Despite the fact that they are a rare breed, the Spotted Draft Horse has earned a reputation as a magnificent riding horse. The amazing coat patterns on these wonderful drawings make them stand out from the crowd.

Spotted Drafts are more nimble than other popular draft breeds, and they are calm and ready to please their owners. As a result, they are an excellent breed for bigger riders who desire the ability to do more than simply leisure riding.

Cleveland Bay

The Cleveland Bay is a magnificent riding mount because it is large, strong, and graceful. They are well-known for their beauty, endurance, and reasonable temperaments, which make them excellent horses for riders of all ages. Cleveland Bay horses, which typically reach between 16 and 16 and a half hands tall and weigh between 1,400 and 1,500 pounds, can carry up to 280 pounds. That is the equivalent of a person weighing around 260 pounds with a saddle weighing up to 20 pounds. These magnificent horses must be bay, with black tips, and the only white that is authorized is a star marking on their forehead.

American Cream Draft

Despite the fact that the American Cream Drafthorse is a rare breed, it has a large following of admirers. These lovely horses, who are distinguished by their cream coats, are the only draft breed to have originated in the United States. The American Cream Draft is around 15.1-16.3 hands in height and weighs between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds on average. They are capable of transporting riders weighing up to 320 pounds (including 40 lbs of tack). Their distinctive coats range in color from delicate cream to a deep golden, and they are well-known for having amber eyes, which are a hallmark feature of the breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible for a horse’s back to be damaged when riding? Riders who are well-balanced and do not weigh more than 20 percent of the horse’s body weight should not cause back problems in animals who are well tack and properly balanced. As long as these guidelines are followed, the majority of horses will not get back issues as a result of riding. What Kind of Horse Is Capable of Carrying a Large Rider? The ability to carry a hefty rider on a powerful, well-muscled horse with solid legs of greater size is common.

  • Is it possible for a horse to carry 300 pounds?
  • Always consult with your veterinarian before getting on a horse!
  • Despite the fact that there is no established weight limit, few horses are capable of securely transporting more than 300 pounds.
  • The weight restriction might range from 210 to 300 pounds, depending on the facility and the horses that are available.
  • Generally speaking, your weight should not exceed 20% of the weight of a horse’s total weight.

Please keep in mind that we are not providing medical or veterinary advice on this website. Always consult with a veterinarian before attempting to ride your horse to ensure that it is safe for you to do so. You may also be interested in:

  • A Horse’s Capacity for Carrying
  • Horse Breeds’ Height and Weight Chart
  • What Is the Average Weight of a Horse
  • Differences between Shires and Clydesdales

How Much Weight Can Your Horse Safely Carry?

Have you ever carried a typical schoolkid’s bag around with you? It was not that long ago, while some of us were in school, that we just had two or three textbooks with us at all times. Nowadays, however, because many schools have eliminated lockers for security concerns, students are frequently required to carry all of their stuff with them during the day. One survey of 3,498 middle-school pupils conducted in 2004 discovered that the average backpack weight was 10.6 pounds, with some kids carrying as much as 37 pounds.

  • In other words, the bigger the weight of the backpack, the greater the possibility that the kid would complain of discomfort.
  • The burdens imposed on a 1,000-pound horse would be confined to 100 to 150 pounds if the same restrictions were followed in the equestrian community.
  • However, this does not imply that there is no expense.
  • Our investigations focused with energetics, specifically how to measure the costs of carrying a large amount of weight, according to the study team’s leader Dr.
  • The effects of weight on horse biomechanics, metabolism, and prospective soundness were among the topics covered in the research.
  • Wickler adds that his results might have far-reaching ramifications, including those for recreational trail mounts and backyard horses, among other things.
  • National Center for Health Statistics reports that the average height and weight of the American population has increased over the past several decades, and the number of obese individuals has increased as well, as has the number of overweight people.

The majority of the time, the answer is “It depends.” However, raising your horse’s awareness of weight concerns can go a long way toward keeping him healthy and sound for years to come in the future.

The muscles they need to run, jump, fly, and climb out of harm’s way, as well as the hoof and horn, tooth, and claw they use to wage their conflicts, must all be carried with them.

Growing and sustaining such tools, on the other hand, necessitates the use of energy, which must be obtained from readily available food supplies.

As Wickler explains, “Human engineers will overbuild in order to anticipate extremes.” “For example, an elevator with a stated capacity of eight passengers or a weight limit of 1,500 pounds may be constructed.

However, biological systems do not behave in this manner.

When a horse carries a rider, it is this “reserve capacity” that is responsible for bearing the additional weight; nevertheless, the horse must alter the way he moves and uses his muscles to accommodate the additional weight.

The amount of oxygen the horses used while trotting on a treadmill while wearing face masks was assessed by the researchers.

With the addition of weights that accounted for around 19 percent of the horses’ total weight, which is roughly similar to a 150-pound rider with equipment, the horses’ metabolic rate climbed by an average of 17.6 percent at all speeds, the researchers discovered.

With each extra pound added to the burden, the metabolic work required to move that load increases by a comparable amount–and this is on level ground.

Economy It should come as no surprise that horses who are free to pick their own speed prefer to slow down when they have additional weight placed on their backs.

This portion of the study involved the training of seven Arabian horses, including geldings and mares, to walk and trot along a level fence line in response to spoken orders.

It was estimated that the saddle and lead together weighted 85 kilograms (187 pounds), which accounted for around 19 percent of the horses’ total body weights.

According to Wickler, “Not only does their metabolic rate increase, but their preferred speed decreases as well.” He adds that the most important finding was that the horses’ preferred speed was the most economical in terms of moving a given distance while carrying the additional weight, which was the most important finding of the study.

  • “When you add weight to a horse while it is standing, the force of the weight is distributed evenly among the horse’s four limbs,” Wickler explains.
  • Normal (vertical) and parallel (horizontal) forces as well as each foot’s time of contact on the plate were recorded on the fore- and hind limbs; each horse was also videotaped so that stride time could be measured.
  • But in fact, there are significant differences in the amount of forces borne by the front and rear legs.
  • Going uphill, this pattern of distribution shifts, with 52 percent supported by the forelimbs while the hind limbs took on 48 percent.
  • At higher speeds, the two feet were on the ground about the same amount of time, but at slower speeds, the hind limbs tended to spend less time on the ground–an observation that had never been made before in quadrupeds, according to Wickler.

Gait To study the biomechanical effects of loads, the Cal State researchers trotted five Arabians at a consistent speed on a treadmill under three different conditions: on the level with no load, on a 10 percent incline with no load, and on the level while carrying a saddle and weights that totaled about 19 percent of their body mass.

  1. Carrying a load caused the horses to leave their feet on the ground an average of 7.7 percent longer than they did while trotting unburdened.
  2. In short, explains Wickler, carrying a load causes a horse to shorten his stride, leave his feet on the ground longer and increase the distance his body travels (the “step length”) with each stride.
  3. “Forces are damaging,” says Wickler, “so keeping the foot on the ground reduces peak forces and reduces that potential for injury.” Tough Road?
  4. Clearly, horses the world over have been carrying riders for many centuries with little ill effect.
  5. As each foot strikes the ground, whatever force is not absorbed by bone and tendon must be taken up by the muscles.
  6. “A small amount of weight can make a big difference,” Wickler says.
  7. “For racing performance on a short track, 10 percent is a huge amount,” Wickler says.

While carrying a single heavy rider on a one-day ride is not likely to seriously harm a horse, over the years, a consistent regimen of this sort of work could add up to chronic injury.

It’s possible that chronic overwork leads to many tiny microfractures, which can build up to a catastrophic break.

“There is a bit of normal extension and flexion during movement, and although the question has not been examined in detail, it’s likely that if you put a weight in the middle, you are going to change the way the back performs.” How Much is Too Much?

“While there seems to be some consensus, it isn’t as clear as one might think,” says Wickler.

Obviously, a horse who staggers under a pack is overloaded.

Time and terrain matter, too.

In the absence of scientific research, the next source of information on maximum weight loads for horses comes from historical sources–the result of centuries of horsemanship experience, not all of which developed with the well-being of the horse as the highest priority.

Army specifications for pack mules state that ‘American mules can carry up to 20 percent of their body weight (150 to 300 pounds) for 15 to 20 miles per day in mountains,’” Wickler says.

“Packers generally try to keep packs to 150 to 200 pounds in their animals, who must carry the dunnage on a daily basis for the entire season,” says Wickler, “so 20 percent of the animal’s body weight seems to be reasonable.

If you go faster, that means more forces on the limbs and more metabolism is needed.” Today, many dude ranches and public stables post weight limits for riders, usually around 200 pounds or less; the National Park Service, for example, does not allow riders who weigh more than 200 pounds to participate in its mule trips into the Grand Canyon.

  • “Obviously, that’s not going to happen.
  • Western saddles intended primarily for ranchwork or sports like as roping or cutting tend to be heavier, 40 pounds or more; those meant for trail or pleasure applications tend to be lighter, 25 to 30 pounds, but some models can range up to 40.
  • English saddles vary in weight according on the discipline, but they are often 20 pounds or less, with some versions weighing as little as 10 pounds.
  • Although the jury is still out on how exactly all of this weight affects individual horses, anything you can do to reduce the amount of weight your horse carries will almost certainly benefit him in the long run.

“I’d want to shed a few pounds,” Wickler confesses candidly. “It’d be better for me, and it’d be better for my horse as well,” says the author. Original publication of this essay appeared in the January 2005 edition of EQUUS magazine.

Question of the Week: How much weight can a horse carry?

If a horse is in good form and healthy, it can normally carry more weight than a horse with a finer frame or one that is out of shape. Q:How can I estimate the safest weight for a horse to be able to transport? I’ve heard a variety of responses, ranging from 20 percent of the horse’s total weight (including equipment) to any horse over 15hh being capable of carrying 300 pounds without incident. Are there any general rules of thumb or standards that I may use to judge whether a horse is capable of transporting me safely?

  1. A: In a paper published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in 2008, a clear and unambiguous answer to your query was established.
  2. The horses were then handled and their vital signs were monitored.
  3. Horses that were carrying 25 percent and 30 percent of their body weight during exercise had greater heart and respiratory rates, as well as muscles that were more painful the next day.
  4. The short answer to your query is that it is dependent on the horse in question.
  5. These studies clearly demonstrate that a horse’s conformation affects his ability to bear a certain amount of weight to a certain extent.
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Overall, if you have a reasonably fit horse with a large bone structure and you’re going on a relaxing trail ride consisting of walking and the occasional trot, there’s no reason why this horse can’t carry more than the 20 percent rule – in fact, this happens all the time as there are plenty of riders out there who push beyond the 240 pound limit on their 1200 pound horse, or the 200 pound limit on their 1000 pound horse, and still have a good time without worrying The 20 percent guideline and using common sense to analyze your horse’s fitness level should help you determine how much weight is “safe” for your horse to carry.

On a historical perspective, the 20 percent rule has been in use for far longer than the time period covered by this 2008 research.

More information on this subject may be found in the article “Too Heavy to Ride?” from the February 2014 edition of Horse Illustrated magazine.

How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry?

Have you ever attempted to go on a holiday trail ride only to be required to sign a release that included your height and weight information? Have you ever pondered why they need to know this information, and why it would be essential to you throughout your ride? What is the maximum amount of weight that a horse can carry? Then this post is written specifically for you! In this post, I’ll cover the significance of weight restrictions in equestrian riding, as well as how much weight a horse is capable of securely carrying on its back.

500 pounds, perhaps?

As is always the case, the answer is that it depends!

Why Have Weight Limit for Horse Riding

Horses are powerful, well-muscled creatures, so why do we need weight restrictions in the first place? Weight constraints are usually not something you have to deal with or worry about on a daily basis if you’re riding your own horse, in your own equipment, and doing everything the same way you do every day. Think about riding schools, scholastic and college riding programs, trail riding farms, guy ranches, and any other horse-riding businesses where you might be able to ride horses that you’ve never met before, such as a dude ranch.

  • In that case, how would they determine whether they should put you on their 12 hand pony or their 18 hand draft horse?
  • You must complete online disclaimers for most riding schools and trail riding stables, including your height and weight, in order to participate.
  • In the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, for example, the “height/weight” guideline is another example of this (IHSA- a competitive college riding circuit).
  • Because the horses have certain weight limitations, these riders have certain horses removed from the pool of horses from which they can draw because the horses are overweight.

What Contributes to the Weight a Horse Carries?

However, the weight of the rider is not the primary factor in determining a horse’s weight limit. Consider what else your horse has to carry when you’re out riding—the saddle, for example. Some saddles are exceptionally light in weight, while others are heavy in weight. Consider the differences between racing saddles and monoflap eventing or dressage saddles. Even certain close-contact hunt seat saddles can be incredibly light, especially if they are made of a lightweight material. In rare cases, though, western or other trail saddles can be quite hefty.

A second difference between western saddles and English saddles is the usage of larger saddle blankets, which are often heavier than the basic saddle pad or baby pad used beneath English saddles.

There are other occasions in which horses or mules are employed as “pack” animals, which means that they are exclusively responsible for transporting provisions and not humans. It is critical to understand how much each of these goods weighs in order to avoid overloading the horse.

Equine Characteristics that Contribute to Weight Limit

The height of a horse is the most evident trait that will contribute to its particular weight restriction, and it is also the most important. Ponies are often shorter, smaller-boned, and weaker in general strength than a large horse of similar size. Despite the fact that this is not always the case (some “wonder” ponies have made it to the upper ranks of horse competition), horses are normally able to carry greater weight simply because they are taller than their counterparts. Another consideration is the general shape of the horse, or how it is made.

  1. Horses with particular conformation that makes them highly sensitive and agile may not be ideal for hauling huge loads, as is the case with several breeds of horses.
  2. The converse is true for other horses, such as draft crosses and draft horses.
  3. In conclusion, it’s critical to treat each horse as a unique person.
  4. Because very young horses are still growing, it is important to be as gentle as possible on their bones.
  5. As a result, the weight limit of a horse will be determined by the animal’s height, build, and physical condition.

How Much Weight Should a Horse Carry?

Despite the fact that all of this is significant, it still does not tell us how much weight a horse should be expected to carry. In the United States, the conventional rule is that a horse may carry 20% of its own body weight on its back. In addition, the typical guideline in the United Kingdom is that a horse may carry 10% of its own body weight. As a result, the average horse weighs between 1200 and 1500 pounds. In the United States, a horse of such weight would be expected to be able to carry 240-300 pounds on its back.



Both for the safety of your horse and the safety of its riders, weight restrictions are essential for their safety. It is critical to understand each horse’s physical limitations and to make judgments in accordance with those constraints. Horses are capable of carrying enormous loads if they are not forced to do more than they are capable of.

I hope this post has helped you better understand weight limitations, why they are in place, and how to set up weight limits for your own horse or horse(s). If so, please spread the word about this article and tell us about your experiences with horses and weight restrictions!


Riders’ weight should not exceed 250 pounds, including tack, on average, according to the majority of those who weigh themselves. Some large breeds, such as medium build horses larger than 17.2 hands in height and draft breeds measuring 16.3 hands or more in height, are capable of carrying heavier riders. These are the breeds that are capable of carrying heavier riders. Please keep in mind that the back of larger horses may be longer than that of smaller or medium-sized horses. Despite their overall size, a huge horse with a long back may be unable to carry a significant amount of weight due to their lack of strength.

Is 18 Stone Too Heavy To Ride A Horse?

There are 252 pounds in 18 stone when it is converted to pounds. As a result, 18 stone is too much to ride a horse. Even without equipment, the rider’s weight of 18 stone already exceeds the weight restriction for the horse. There is a maximum of 16 stone available, and that is with extremely mild tack.

What Horse Breed Is Appropriate For A 350 lb Rider?

Whenever you are searching for a horse that can carry a rider who weighs 350 pounds, horses with a medium build that are above 17 hands in height and draft horses that are larger than 16.3 hands in height are ideal possibilities. When it comes to transporting large riders, Percherons and Percheron Crosses are an excellent option of saddle. Belgian draft horses are another kind of horse that is extremely resilient. When compared to the size of a 0 or 1 horseshoe, they wear a size five horseshoe on their feet.

How Much Weight Can A Clydesdale Carry?

Clydesdales are more often recognized for their pulling strength than for their ability to carry a rider’s weight. A single Clydesdale can draw between 2,000 and 8,000 pounds, while a pair of Clydesdales can pull up to nearly 18,000 pounds together. Clydesdales were originally utilized as drum horses, and they were tasked with transporting the Musical Ride Officer as well as two silver drums, each weighing 123 lbs, for a total weight of 248 lbs in the drums alone. When you include in the added weight of the rider and tack, the total weight is far in excess of 300 lbs.

Best Horse Breed For Heavy Riders

Horses with broad bones and a stocky physique are the finest breeds for heavy riders, and they include the following: Quarter horses, Irish Draught horses, Highland Ponies, Percheron horses, and Shire horses are just a few of the horses that are well-suited to heavier riders.

Can You Be Too Heavy To Ride A Horse?

A rider’s weight can become too much for a horse to bear at some time, and this is understandable. It is often believed among horsemen that if you can get on the horse, you can ride the horse. This refers to mounting without the help of a third party or the use of a mounting block.

If you are unable to mount the horse, you should refrain from riding. In any case, this is only significant when it comes to the rider’s weight, as opposed to any potential mental or physical health issues that may make mounting problematic.

How Much Weight Can A Pony Carry?

Ponies range in height from 9 to 14 hands and weigh between 400 and 800 pounds on average. As a result, ponies may transport riders weighing between 80 and 160 pounds, with equipment, at the most. Young children and smaller people are the most common riders on ponybacks.

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