Horses are just like people; they come in all sizes, shapes, colors, heights, weights, ages – and abilities. A small horse or pony is an ideal sized horse to give young kids a wonderful ride, even perhaps their very first horseback ride. The standard-sized quarter-horse, is ideally suited for riders weighing anywhere from 100 to 180 pounds. A draft horse, obviously has the ability to carry our heavier riders. By the same measure, an adult is going to feel comfortable on either the standard-sized or draft horse, but young children might find a draft horse’s size intimidating.
We are proud that our horses at the National Riding Stables are in phenomenal condition to ride, both in terms of training and fitness. We have a diverse herd of horses for riders of all ages and experience. We have a handful of horses that can carry heavier riders up to 210 pounds.
At the National Riding Stables, our mission is to provide you – our customer – with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But the second part of our mission is to provide loving care for our horses. One of the most difficult parts of our job is matching riders to horses, in both weight and relative horse-back experience, to ensure that we can accomplish both parts of our mission. To help us do that, and to ensure your safety, we have adopted the following weight policy.
• We have an absolute weight limit of 210 pounds.
• When making your reservations for a horseback riding tour, we will ask you the weights of each rider in your party, both children and adults. We do this not only to ensure that no one in your party weighs more than 210, but to better match up riders to horses.
• Any customer who appears to approach the weight limit of 210 pounds will be weighed on a calibrated physician’s scale. In addition, any customer who appears to weigh 10-20 pounds more than the weight reported when you made your reservation will be weighed.
• Anyone weighing more than 210 pounds will not be allowed to ride. In addition, anyone who weighs 10-20 (or more) more than the weight reported when the reservation was made may not be able to ride on horseback if we do not have another horse available to carry the actual weight, or if another horse cannot be tacked up in time for an on-time departure.
• Because we are asking you in advance for the weights of the riders in your party, we will not be able to provide refunds for any customers who are not able to ride because of excessive weight.
Dr. Deb Bennett, PhD, founder of the Equine Studies Institute and an expert in the biomechanics of horses, has advised that the “Total weight of rider plus tack must not exceed 250 lbs. There is no horse alive, of any breed, any build, anywhere, that can go more than a few minutes with more weight on its back than this. Not even the U.S. Army ever packed a mule heavier than this.“
Putting too much weight on a horse – any horse – can quickly lead to both short-term and long-term problems. Short-term problems include rub-sores from the saddle, strained muscles, and pinching of nerves, any of which can sideline a horse for a few days to a week. Consistent over-loading of a horse can lead to permanent damage such as a “sway back,” deteriorated muscle function, joint problems, and arthritis.
It’s a matter of safety:
Just like people, a horse that is too tired or is asked to do too much can temporarily lose its better nature and forget its manners (training). A horse that is child-safe, bomb-proof and completely docile under normal conditions may become agitated, frustrated, fatigued, irritable and even unpredictable when over-stressed by a heavy rider. This can lead to situations that are dangerous for both horse and rider.