How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back? (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

  • The weight limit can range from 210-300 pounds depending on the facility and their available horses. What is the maximum weight a horse can carry on its back? 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.

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.

How much weight can a horse take on their back?

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. (Two hundred pounds would be an approximate upward limit, not an average of what he can carry.)

How heavy is too heavy to ride a horse?

How Heavy is Too Heavy? One of the most frequently cited recommendations on matching horses and riders comes from the U.S. Cavalry Manual of Horse Management. It recommends that the rider and gear weigh no more than 20 percent of the horse’s weight. The mention of gear is important.

How much can a draft horse carry on its back?

Horses can comfortably carry 15 to 20% of their body weight. They can carry up to 30% of their body weight but at that point it becomes a strain.

Can a 500 pound person ride a horse?

No. The horse, be it a strong and big enough breed, could carry it, not very long. There is a downside though. 500 lbs is huge for anyone to weigh, and all the dead weight on it’s spine, would hurt and eventually it would buck you off.

Can a 400 lb 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. 4

Can I ride a horse if I’m overweight?

There is debate about this percentage, but the general rule is that a horse should carry no more than 20 percent of their weight. 2 Remember that this weight also includes the saddle and other riding equipment, in addition to the rider. An overweight horse cannot necessarily carry a heavier rider.

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 do you tell if you’re too big for a 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.

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.

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.

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.

What weight can a 14.2 pony carry?

As a general guide, a horse should carry a maximum of a sixth of his weight, so if he’s around 400 kg (about average for a 14.2) he can carry up to 67kg (including tack), so your 9/10 stone is spot on!

How much weight can a burro carry?

They are wonderful creatures. If we stick to the standard that a burro should carry no more than 20 – 25 percent of their body weight, most burros could carry between 125 and 150 pounds each. This should include gear. Anyone over 150 pounds and riding a normal burrow, is asking too much of the animal.

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.

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.

If you have any doubts about whether or not your horse is capable of properly supporting you, you should get guidance from a veterinarian.

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.


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.

The Irish Draught is an easy-going and resilient horse that makes a wonderful riding partner. They are well-known for their level-headed demeanor and their incredible endurance. Learn all you need to know about the Irish Draught breed by reading our Irish Draught breed profile guide.


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.

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.

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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 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 vital to concentrate on breeds since some of them are more thin, 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 own 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.

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.

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“Am I too fat to ride a horse?”

A picture taken from a comment piece with the remark, “Am I too overweight to ride a horse?” ” data-medium-file=”ssl=1″ data-medium-file=”ssl=1″ Riders who move ‘with’ a horse are ‘lighter’ than someone of the same weight who ‘ride like a sack of potatoes,’ according to research.” width: 600 pixels; height: 400 pixels Set the srcset to: ” ssl=1 600w, ssl=1 300w” sizes = sizing “(maximum width: 600px) 100vw, maximum width: 600px ” Maybe, maybe not.

  1. data-recalc-dims=”1″>Perhaps, maybe not.
  2. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for the punch line: clearly, this is all a joke, as you can see!
  3. It is recommended that a horse should not be asked to carry more than 20% of its own weight, according to the US Cavalry Manual of Horse Management (1941).
  4. Researchers at Duchy College in Cornwall, England, evaluated the influence of horses on 50 riders who completed 45-minute exercises, and they arrived to the same conclusion as the other researchers: a 20 percent reduction is recommended.
  5. This enzyme is activated when a horse’s heart rate increases to a level where the horse’s body is unable to digest the lactate in the blood.
  6. Wider loins and thicker cannon bones aid in the recovery of those who have larger bodies.
  7. For the most of the 5000 years that mankind have been riding horses, they have utilized them to travel to distant locations and murder one another.

Initially, the warriors went bareback, and all of their horses were sore within three days of starting their journey.

Around the year 440, Attila the Hun became the first person to employ a saddle in battle, reasoning that spreading the bearing weight across a larger area would make the horse less sore.

Attila acquired this concept from the Sarmatian women warriors (400 BC), who constructed a wooden “casing” around their horses to prevent them from being expelled when they drove a lance through an enemy ground soldier with their spear.

They shaved their right breast to make it easier for them to tie a bow.

Following that, Attila took a stirrup, which the Chinese had been using as a mounting assistance at the same time period.

The Romans were keen to see Attila’s discovery, but they were also quick to institute weight restrictions.

When you combine this with the 200lb of an average armed warrior, the Roman warhorse could carry 300lb, or well over 30% of the horse’s total weight.

Over the next thousand years, the amount of weight gained rose even further.

The South African War (1899-1902) saw the average weight of an Allied soldier with equipment rise to around 320lbs by that time period.

Tylden, the normal weight carried by the British Desert Mounted Corps in Palestine and Syria (1917-18) was 290lb, which was carried “all day and every day.” Yet, although commanding the greatest mechanical army the world had ever seen, Hitler maintained a horse force of three million horses.

I saddled 130 horses for the US Special Operations forces during the war in Afghanistan, and I also designed scabbards for their M4 rifles.

As a result, we are neither devouring them or forcing them to die in war for the first time in the lengthy history of the man-horse connection.

Ironically, all of this feel-good stuff has occurred at a time when people have progressed significantly.

Back in 1979, when I first started placing Americans into Australian stock saddles, the typical seat size (in Australia) was 16″.

The horse, on the other hand, has not altered.

There is some positive news in that individuals are asking themselves: Am I too big to ride a bicycle?

I believe that most of the debate over the weight’s influence on horses is being advanced by those who do not want us to do anything with animals other than observe them.

We also won’t be gazing at them in zoos, for the same reason.

We will be able to see them “virtually.” Another possible agenda item is the strong bias towards obese individuals that exists in modern society.

With the exception of China, where fat people are praised!

Equitours is owned by Bayard Fox, who sends people to dozens of places across the world to ride horses — but he has a weight limit of 200 pounds.

People of large stature are under the impression that they should ride large horses.

During World War I’s trench fighting, Connemara ponies were forced to carry half of their own weight for the whole of the day.

During his 2000-mile journey from Mexico to Canada, endurance rider Ed Anderson rode his 14.3hh 900-lb Arabian gelding Primo carrying up to 275lb—approximately 36% of the horse’s total weight.

“Primo had no issues at all.” However, as Dr Gary Carlson DMV points out, “every additional pound a horse needs to transport from point A to point B necessitates the expenditure of that much more energy.” Dr.

If you have any questions or comments, you may contact Colin at [email protected] or by phone at 818 8896988.

A stock saddle company founded by Colin Dangaard and his wife Linda Fox in 1979, the Australian Stock Saddle Company is currently headed by Colin Dangaard. In fact, they were the first to introduce the Australian stock saddle to the United States». Take a look at Colin’s profile.

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 when it is standing, the power of the weight is distributed evenly across the animal’s four limbs,” Wickler explains.
  • Each horse’s fore- and hindlimbs were filmed so that stride duration could be assessed, and normal (vertical) and parallel (horizontal) forces, as well as the time each foot spent in contact with the plate, were recorded.
  • However, there are considerable variances in the amount of force that is borne by the front and hind legs when comparing the two.
  • When going uphill, the pattern of distribution varies, with the forelimbs supporting 52 percent of the weight and the hindlimbs supporting 48 percent of the weight.
  • The two feet remained on the ground for approximately the same length of time while traveling at greater speeds, but when traveling at slower speeds, the hind limbs tended to spend less time on the ground–an observation that had never been made before in quadrupeds, says Wickler.

Gait Cal State researchers trotted five Arabian horses at a consistent speed on a treadmill under three different conditions: on a flat surface with no load, on a 10 percent incline while carrying a saddle and weights that totaled approximately 19 percent of their body mass, and on a level surface while carrying a saddle and weights that totaled approximately 19 percent of their body mass.

  • It was discovered that while the horses were carrying a weight, they trotted for an average of 7.7 percent longer time than they did when they were trotting unburdened.
  • In brief, notes Wickler, carrying a load causes a horse’s stride to be shorter, his feet to remain on the ground for a longer period of time, and the distance his body travels (the “step length”) with each stride to be greater.
  • “Forces are harmful,” explains Wickler, “and keeping the foot on the ground reduces peak forces, which in turn reduces the likelihood of an injury occurring.” Is it a difficult road?
  • Clearly, horses have been transporting riders for thousands of years all across the world with little to no negative consequences.
  • If there is any force sent from one foot to the other that is not absorbed by bone and tendon, it must be transferred to the muscles.
  • While fitness training helps horses build up and develop their muscles and bones, it also helps them build up their reserve for absorbing the pressures of exercise.
  • “Losing even a tiny amount of weight may make a significant effect,” adds Wickler.

“For racing performance on a short track, a 10 percent improvement is a significant improvement,” Wickler explains.

While carrying a single heavy rider on a one-day ride is unlikely to cause major injury to a horse, a constant program of this type of activity over a long period of time might result in chronic injury.

It is possible that chronic overwork leads to a large number of little microfractures, which can accumulate and eventually cause a catastrophic break.

So, what is the maximum weight that a horse can safely carry?

A horse that staggers under the weight of a load is clearly overburdened.

Time and terrain are other important considerations.

Because of the lack of scientific research, historical sources are the next best source of information on maximum weight loads for horses.

“ ‘American mules can carry up to 20% of their body weight (150 to 300 pounds) for 15 to 20 miles a day in mountains,’ according to U.S.

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“There have been some anecdotal tales of mules weighing 350 to 400 pounds, and an 1867 reference to mules weighing 600 to 800 pounds.” According to India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, the maximum weight for mules is 200 kilograms (approximately 440 pounds), while the maximum weight for ponies is 70 kilograms (about 230 pounds) (154 pounds).

  1. Faster movement means more forces on the limbs and more metabolism is required,” says the instructor.
  2. For example, the National Park Service does not allow riders who weigh more than 200 pounds to participate in mule trips into the Grand Canyon, which are operated by the National Park Service.
  3. “It’s clear that’s not going to happen.” People, on the other hand, must be conscious of the amount of weight they are placing on a horse.” This includes not only the rider’s weight, but also the weight of the saddle, as well as the weight of any other items that are being transported.
  4. Australian, endurance, and synthetic Western saddles are all lighter than traditional Western saddles, weighing between 13 and 22 pounds.
  5. Gel-filled saddle pads, as well as any other equipment worn by the rider or tucked into saddlebags, can add several pounds to the rider’s total weight.

“I’d like to lose 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 article appeared in the January 2005 issue of EQUUS magazine.

Too Heavy for My Horse?

What is the maximum amount of weight that a horse can safely carry? The thought that I could be too hefty for my horse worries me. Maintaining my physical fitness is a continual challenge for me, and I currently weigh 175 pounds at 5 feet, 5 inches tall. My Quarter Horse-cross gelding is 14.1 hands tall and weighs around 900 pounds. Is it possible that I’m too big for him? -Laurie Handley, a Nevada resident A: Laurie, When determining a horse’s weight-bearing ability, the fundamental rule of thumb is 20 percent of the horse’s total weight, which would be 200 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse.

  1. For the sake of not placing undue stress on his joints and ligaments, a 900-pound horse like your gelding should not be expected to carry more than roughly 180 pounds, including equipment, on a regular basis.
  2. Without regard to his overall weight, the kind and build of the horse would be the first consideration.
  3. With regard to a horse’s bone content, which refers to the size of his weight-bearing major bones, as measured by the circumference of his cannon bone, is directly tied to the sturdiness element.
  4. Additionally, your general fitness (as opposed to just your weight) is taken into consideration.
  5. It also has anything to do with your riding abilities.
  6. Entire, provided that (1) you are adequately fit for riding and possess sound fundamental abilities; (2) your horse is a solid gentleman with decent bone; and (3) your equipment does not add more than 100 pounds to your overall weight, you should be alright.

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.

How Much Weight Can a Horse Safely Carry?

If you are considering stocking your saddlebag with provisions or if you have begun to gain a few pounds, you may be wondering how much weight your horse is capable of comfortably carrying. It can carry around 20% of its body weight, but there are several additional elements that influence your horse’s capacity and comfort that you should consider before consistently placing the maximum load on your horse. Continue reading as we cover topics such as breed, fitness, conformation, and more to assist you in making an educated selection.

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

Image courtesy of Alexas Fotos and Pixabay. In the event that you haven’t acquired a horse yet and are looking for one to ride, the 20 percent rule is a decent place to begin your search. The majority of riding horses weigh around 1,000 pounds, which implies that the combined weight of you and the saddle cannot exceed 200 pounds. Saddles may weigh anywhere from 10 to 60 pounds, thus a larger saddle will require a rider who weighs no more than 140 pounds to safely operate it. In the event that you weigh more than 185 pounds or need to transport a large amount of supplies, you may want to consider renting a draft horse.

These horses will be more costly, slower, and more difficult to saddle than a riding horse, but they will be able to carry a significant amount of additional weight.

Horse Conformation

Image courtesy of Kevin Carvalho via Conformation refers to the shape of the horse, particularly the saddle area, and it has a significant impact on how much weight your horse is capable of towing or pulling. Horses with broad loins and robust back legs are less likely to suffer while carrying heavy loads, and they recover more quickly after tough activity. A horse with these characteristics may be able to slightly surpass the 20 percent guideline, but a horse with thinner rear legs may only be able to achieve 17 percent or 18 percent.

Horse Breed

Image courtesy of Piqsels The stockiness and muscular mass of some horse breeds is genetically determined as opposed to other breeds. They will be able to carry greater weight and may be able to overcome the 20 percent threshold by a large margin. Some breeds, such as the Paso Fino breed, are capable of carrying up to 25 percent of their body weight with ease.

Horse Health

Image courtesy of dendoktoor on PixabayThe health of your horse can have a big impact on how much weight it can carry. The ability to move big weights in a horse suffering from disease may be impaired, while an elderly horse with arthritis may be unable to do so and may experience discomfort when a heavy load is placed on its back.

A number of additional health conditions, such as weariness, might impair your horse’s carrying capacity. Proper diet is also essential to provide your horse with the energy it needs to accomplish the task, as well as ample rest when the job is over to prepare it for the next one.

Rider Experience

In order to avoid fatigueing or throwing off the horse’s balance, an experienced rider should transfer their body weight and climb into the saddle as fast as possible. This will improve your horse’s capacity to handle high loads and reduce weary. It will take a lot of energy to struggle to climb on your horse, especially if you are close to your maximum weight.

  • Check out these other articles:Australian Stock Saddle vs. Western Saddle: Which Is Right for You?

Image courtesy of Pixabay


When it comes to loading your horse, you need also consider the terrain you will be riding on. Muddy ground and an uphill road will be difficult for your horse to walk on, and it may not be able to carry as much weight as it would be able to if it were going on flat and firm ground. Additionally, rocks and uneven terrain, as well as the heat of a summer day, can make it more difficult to transport big items.


If you’re searching for anything to haul large goods around the farm, you might want to start with a draft horse so you can be sure you’ll have the power you need. In the event that you have a riding horse that is becoming older or if you are gaining weight, you’ll need to keep an eye on the horse to determine whether it is having trouble. Weighing the horse and yourself on a regular basis is important, and the 20 percent guideline should be followed. Your time on horseback should be reduced as you get near to the limit of your endurance ability.

If we have been of use in making your horse more comfortable, please spread the word about this guide on how much a horse can safely carry on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

He has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Adelaide (who declined to be pictured).

Ollie has since discovered a new passion for working online and blogging about animals of all kinds.

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