Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

Greg from Lubbock, Texas e-mailed and asked what size horse he should be looking for, as he is 6’2” tall and weighs in at a whopping 280 lbs. Sorry Greg, but you ARE a big man. I am assuming you are a novice or occasional rider.

Several people know Greg is looking for a horse, primarily for trail riding, but maybe for some events like team penning or maybe in arena roping in the future, but most of the horses he’s looking at seem small to him or for him, but the sellers are telling him that the horses will work for him.

Greg if you ride the horse you are interested in, and you should, and if that horse’s legs and feet splay out to the sides, then that horse isn’t big enough for you. In all seriousness, you are going to adding about, what 27 to 50 lbs of saddle in addition to your weight? Close to it, I’d imagine.

The average horse will carry 20% of his weight comfortably. Meaning a 1,000 lbs can easily and comfortably carry 200 lbs granting his condition and health and age allow for it. I try to keep weight to 20% of the horse when packing, but packing loads can’t move to help the horse,’s basically dead weight. Not real comfortable saddles either.

Now, I'm not suggesting your need a 1,500 lb Draft Horse. If your trail riding fairly short distances or competing in arena events, I think an average sized horse, around 15.2 to 16 hands and approx 1,100 lbs or more will work for you, if the horse is young and sound enough. Even though these days, a lot of horses are viable for substantial work into their 20’s, I would stay away from older horses. I’d say you are looking for something around 6 to 14 years old.

I have ridden with some fairly big Cowboys. A couple of the guys your size usually have a bigger horse than most. One of the old partner’s rides a Thoroughbred off the race track who is 16.3 hands but doesn’t weigh a great deal, maybe 1,250 to 1,300 lbs and this horse carries this old Cowboy everywhere he wants to go.

You can’t read a horse’s heart, but you can certainly pre-buy ride him to see if you think he is suitable, moves out without balking, and get a general feeling for the horse. A pre-buy Vet check is also a good idea on the horse you think you want to buy. In fact, having a good horseshoer look him over would also be a good idea.

As far as these sellers,...there is a lot of “horse traders” out there. This is a generally negative term to describe people who buy and sell horses without regard to the horse or the client. I have seen many people misrepresent horses in order to make a sale. Find someone with some horse sense that you trust to go along with you looking at sale horses. Since you are in Lubbock, home of Texas Tech and their Equine Program, I suggest swinging by their barn and talking to some people,....I’m sure they’ll be more than helpful.

Hope this helps you, Good luck and Safe Journey.

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