The results of a pilot study on the effects of rider weight on equine performance have been published in the world’s leading journal of equine veterinary education, Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eve.13085
The study The influence of rider : horse bodyweight ratio and rider-horse saddle fit on equine gait and behaviour: A pilot study 1 has provided initial benchmark information on the potential health and welfare implications of high rider : horse bodyweight ratios. A rider that is too heavy for the horse in question could induce temporary lameness and behaviours indicative of musculoskeletal pain.
Dr Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust’s Centre for Equine Studies, Newmarket, who led the study said: “The results indicate that every rider and especially heavier riders should ride a horse or pony of appropriate size and fitness for the rider’s weight, with a saddle that is correctly fitted for both horse and rider.”
Funding has now been confirmed for the next phase of research, which aims to determine if horse fitness, adaptation to heavier weights and more ideal saddle fit will increase the weight an individual horse can carry.
1The influence of rider: horse bodyweight ratio and rider-horse saddle fit on equine gait and behaviour: A pilot study Dyson, S, Ellis, A, Guire, R, Douglas, J, Bondi, A, Harris, P.