Obese riders weigh on horses' health care costs
One-third of riders are too heavy, leading to health problems for their steeds. Now plus-size saddles are hitting the market.
The human health costs of the obesity epidemic have been well documented, but a new study is shedding light on another set of victims: horses mounted by overweight riders.
One-third of recreational riders are too obese for their steeds, putting the animals at risk for health problems including lameness and back pain, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail, which cited a study from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
That may lead to higher health care costs for horses, which can already be considerable. While amounts vary, horse owners typically spend about $300 a year on routine health care for their animals, although that can increase to thousands if a horse is injured or ill, according to Equine.com.
Overweight riders can also cause the animals to develop behavioral problems, such as bucking and rearing, the Mail notes. (Whether the horses are trying to get the overweight riders off their backs or are just annoyed, the article doesn't say.)
"People tend to think horses are such big animals they must be okay, and not to take notice of the weight issue of riders. But the health impact on the horse can be quite extreme, quite quickly," Hayley Randle, one of the study authors, told the newspaper.
Recreational riding adds $11.8 billion in spending to the U.S. economy, with 2 million horse owners in America alone, according to the Equestrian Channel. To be sure, the academic study looked at the U.K., but weighty riders are likely an issue for American horses as well, given that the U.S. is the third-fattest country on earth, while the U.K. comes in at No. 10.
Adding to the problems of overburdened horses, plus-size saddles are hitting the market. The WOW "Bounty" saddle has a seat that's "designed to offer supreme support and comfort to the larger rider,” according to Horse and Hound. Another company is also working on a saddle for heftier behinds.
A rider shouldn't weigh more than 10% of her horse's weight, the Mail notes, citing vet guidelines. But weight ratios aren't commonly known in the equine community, Randle said. She added, "People do seem generally to be a bit heavy for horses. That is just a consequence, I suppose, of our average weights going up."
Heavy riders sometimes pepper message boards with questions about which horses are best to carry weight (draft horses are frequently mentioned as potential steeds). When one woman asked what horse her 350-pound husband should ride, one forum respondent wrote, "Develop an interest in driving."
This is so silly! I mean an average arabian is 800lbs so that horse should only ever carry 80lbs!
Come on, I have over 1000 competitive miles in endurance, she is 850lbs and 14.3 hands, she is one of my smaller horses and she has carried me a heavy weight rider THOUSANDS of miles, training, camping and NEVER lame. She is now 17 and still running strong, I have kids competing on her now as I have moved on to younger horses, however I just rescued a little arab mare that is 14.1 really short backed and was worried about her carrying me and she carries me just fine, and her recoveries are SUPER fast much faster then some of my bigger horses. I mean I don't ride super fast but these are miles and miles of serious riding.
Stop and think ,INSTEAD of being StUPID.....
Humans can easily carry 20% of their bodyweight, on their backs...
And they are not contructed like a beast of burden, hardly.
Age and Health always comes to all, when released to the pasture..
The biggest problem I've seen, is horses being started too young. Horses bones are not fully hardened and mature till they are 4 or 5 years old, yet too many people start riding them at age 2 and 3 which causes problems for them in the long run.
Otherwise, I was taught that the average horse can carry 250 lbs. give or take. That's rider plus tack.
Some horses can handle more weight than others, and drafts such as Clydesdales, Shires, Percherons, Belgians, Gypsy Drums and others can handle even more weight and were used in the past to carry knights in armor and were also known as "Heavy horses".
But if you're too fat to get up in the saddle from the ground, then maybe you should take up harness and ride in a horse pulled cart.
Are fkin Vets trying to find a new way to make money now....?
Our old Farm Vet, (long since dead) would be reeling and a rolling reading this..
Oh forgot to mention he was a horse raiser also..
We only did it for about 35+ or so years..
People are getting heavier, but why not give to heavy riders these big horses called: Percheron weighting around 2000lbs +, they are very strong and can handle anything. They may not be as elegant as a nice horse racer, but when the Jockey is not, why the horse should be.
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