The 20% rule

Wagtail

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I just had my five year old weighed on a weigh bridge. She is just over 15 hands and weighs 471 kg. That means that by the 20% rule she can carry up to 94 kg (which is almost 15 stone).

Personally, I find this quite ridiculous. She is about a 3 on the condition score but if she was overweight she would be able to carry even more.

But this rule seems to be about all we have regarding weight carrying abilities of our horses. Can we not come up with a better way with all our combined knowledge?
 

rowan666

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Common sence and a bit of empathy towards the horse should be enough, saddly many riders seem to lack these qualities. I agree the 20% rule is majorly flawed
 

Goldenstar

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The biggest issue with percentage rules is that you must do calculation based on the horses ideal weight anything else is silly .
Personally I think 20 is to much 10 to little just based on common sense and what I know works by works I mean the horses have had long working lives so clearly cope clearly you can't put a huge person on a tiny horse but that aside the biggest thing that effects a horses weight carrying ability is its back conformation and it's way of going .
I have seen it over and over with hunters the ones that last have good shaped well muscled backs and have a way of going that makes the work easy on them.
Because of this I don't buy horses that pull IME they simply wear out faster than those that don't .
 

ycbm

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I just had my five year old weighed on a weigh bridge. She is just over 15 hands and weighs 471 kg. That means that by the 20% rule she can carry up to 94 kg (which is almost 15 stone).

Personally, I find this quite ridiculous. She is about a 3 on the condition score but if she was overweight she would be able to carry even more.

But this rule seems to be about all we have regarding weight carrying abilities of our horses. Can we not come up with a better way with all our combined knowledge?
I agree, the 20% is too high.

I believe it has come from a limited study where they find that 20% was where the horse began to show signs that the weight was too high. I think there was another very limited study that shows actual damage occurring at 20% and changes at 15%.

I think 15% including tack is about right, but it should include any excess weight the horse is carrying itself. And be lower for poorly conformed animals, the old and the very young.
 

ROMANY 1959

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I read today that ROR are applying 17% rider and tack rule to all their events now...
I was stewarding at BE a while back and I saw one lady, on a 15h horse who was not big boned, she did look way over weight for the horse... she was spilling out over her saddle and horse was sweated up, maybe they all should apply a sensible rule from next season, that gives riders all winter to shed weight and feel better all round.
I stopped riding 3 years ago when medicine for my health problems made me gain weight .
So I now get my horsey fix other ways
 

Mongoose11

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No, of course she wouldn't be able to carry more if she were overweight. The 20% rule applies to horses in peak condition but then I'm sure you know this. Do you mean to say that 'some might assume' that she could carry more?

You're also nowhere near her limit.
 
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FfionWinnie

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I'd be very interested in how "a study" could possibly draw any conclusions whatsoever since no two horses are the same nor do they have the same life experiences, injuries, work load and accidents.

In my own personal study of my own horses over the last 4 years, the one which is the lightest therefore I am much nearer to the 20% "rule" on is the one which has never given me a day's worry ever. I keep buying a bigger one only for something to go wrong with it and end up back on her (and before anyone says something rude about my care one died of EGS and the other already had a problem before I bought it which I didn't know about).

Horses like people break, some live long healthy working lives, some don't. I don't believe it's possible to say for sure why this occurs.

As ever, one should use your common sense. If your horse is continually lame you are probably doing something wrong or it's not up to the job. There are thousands of reasons why that may be. One could be weight, use your common sense to decide if that is it.
 

ycbm

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One study used ten Arabs to try to get a close as they could to identical and I think that study took before and after joint x rays. I think the other study was done by vital signs and performance. I would like to see some long term large scale studies done but I don't think it will happen.

Seeing 14 stone people on slight 16hh thoroughbred horses doesn't sit right with me at all.
 

Mongoose11

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One study used ten Arabs to try to get a close as they could to identical and I think that study took before and after joint x rays. I think the other study was done by vital signs and performance. I would like to see some long term large scale studies done but I don't think it will happen.

Seeing 14 stone people on slight 16hh thoroughbred horses doesn't sit right with me at all.
Is that just an aesthetic preference though? The same percentage body weight with a different pairing could well sit right with your eye.
 

MrsNorris

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When I was young and in PC many, many years ago, we were told that the rider should be not more than 1/7 the weight of the fit horse, which equates to just over 14%. Personally, I think that's about right, I wouldn't expect any horse of mine to do anything other than very light hacking (walking) carrying 20%.
 

cobgoblin

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Is that just an aesthetic preference though? The same percentage body weight with a different pairing could well sit right with your eye.
Funnily enough I think you could do quite a good study using aesthetic preference. If you asked 100 experienced riders to assess various pairings of horses and riders and then retrospectively analysed the weights and percentages....I reckon you'd get a pretty good idea. Perhaps better than some of the nefarious studies.
 

Mongoose11

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Funnily enough I think you could do quite a good study using aesthetic preference. If you asked 100 experienced riders to assess various pairings of horses and riders and then retrospectively analysed the weights and percentages....I reckon you'd get a pretty good idea. Perhaps better than some of the nefarious studies.
Perhaps, but not if your study was to use 'experienced riders' who already have a negative view of overweight people or an obsession with weight.

People who are 14 stone can look vastly different. Imagine taking ten 14 stone riders and putting them all on the same horse. I guarantee those 'experienced riders' would agree that some 14 stone riders were suitable and others were not - despite the load being exactly the same for the horse.
 
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cobgoblin

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Oh I agree, but not if your study was to use 'experienced riders' who already have a negative view of overweight people or an obsession with weight.

People who are 14 stone can look vastly different. Imagine taking ten 14 stone riders and putting them all on the same horse. I guarantee those 'experienced riders' would agree that some 14 stone riders were suitable and others were not - despite the load being exactly the same for the horse.
100 was just a convenient number to put down...it is likely that the number of riders prejudiced against overweight people would be balanced by those that think they and everyone else weighs less than they do. Increasing the numbers of judges and pairings would up the validity of the study, but interfering with the selection of experienced riders would skew it.
 

Antw23uk

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I think this forum should be judge and jury ... everyone post a pic of themselves on there horses and we tell you if your too fat to ride it. Simple :)
 

Mongoose11

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I think this forum should be judge and jury ... everyone post a pic of themselves on there horses and we tell you if your too fat to ride it. Simple :)
That would be great! A simple yes or no just from the photo - after that people could reveal their/horse stats and condition. I think a lot of skewed thinking would be shown. There are far more on here that err on the right side of caution and there are plenty that are totally ridiculous in their view of what a horse can carry wanting nothing but a 17.2 ID carrying more than 14 stone 🙄
 

Wagtail

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I will use any excuse to show of GrayMo �� plus I have a thick skin so criticise away!

Lovely pairing. I have no idea what you weigh but although your horse is quite fine, she looks very strongly built and sturdy. I expect she is more than comfortable with your weight.
 

Wagtail

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Thanks for your opinions so far. I am pleased to see that most people feel the 20% is too high and a very flawed rule. Obviously, common sense and experience/knowledge is what is needed in order to make a judgement. However, the horse world is full of people that have none of that, or who are novices and need some guidance. When people ask if they are too heavy on here, they usually get told by at least one person that so long as they are no more than 20% of their horse's weight, they will be fine. I read somewhere, many years ago about a different formula. It took into account horse's weight, horse's ideal weight, ratio of cannon bone measurement compared to height, length of back compared to height and measurement across the loins. It then applied a slight percentage increase to the weight carrying ability if the horse was either Arab or TB because according to the article, these breeds had better bone density. I have searched for this many times and cannot find it. I have a feeling I read it in a book but cannot remember where.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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Lovely pairing. I have no idea what you weigh but although your horse is quite fine, she looks very strongly built and sturdy. I expect she is more than comfortable with your weight.
He 😉 is a 17hh tb. That pic was taken when he was 13yo so fully mature. I weigh about 10St so with full kit, and his saddle is fairly heavy, it would be nearer 10st10-12lbs.
 

Wagtail

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He �� is a 17hh tb. That pic was taken when he was 13yo so fully mature. I weigh about 10St so with full kit, and his saddle is fairly heavy, it would be nearer 10st10-12lbs.
Lol, I looked and couldn't see a sheath. Sorry. He's nicely built for such a tall TB.
 

Leo Walker

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What I read on here seems totally at odds with what vets/physios/instructors say to me. And just before anyone says that they are telling me what I want to hear, they arent. They have all been asked when I wasnt riding the horse and had no intention of, with the exception of one person. Ironically I dont actually ride mine anymore because I am too heavy now, but I did ride him at 22% with no issues and would do so again. The research I've read says that at both 15 and 20% horses were fine and showed no signs of stress or exertion, however they did start to at 25% and it was noticeable at 30%.

Mine is the very definition of a weight carrier, tiny short cannons, 10+" of bone in front, 11" behind, hes shortish backed and compact and incredibly wide across the loins. I'm pretty sure he would carry me with absolutely no issues now and I'm 26%. I chose not to because I dont think he should have to. But the idea of him only being able to comfortably carry 11stone and a few pounds, including tack is ridiculous
 

ycbm

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I will use any excuse to show of GrayMo 😝 plus I have a thick skin so criticise away!


Critique your photo.. ummm.......your boots are too short if you want to be seen in public in the right dressage circles :D. ?

Grand combination :)
 

Wagtail

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This is me: whaddya think? (Sorry, I have almost no "normal" pictures as we don't do normal stuff).

What a lovely seat you have, Cortez. I think I remember your height and weight from other threads, as well as the general height range of your horses. Looks absolutely fine to me and your lovely horses looks very comfortable.
 

EllenJay

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Surely what weight the horse can carry is directly related to what you are asking them to do and their health? When you try to put a mathmatic formular onto something with so many variables you will never come up with an accurate figure.
 
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