The study "The influence of rider : horse bodyweight ratio and rider-horse saddle fit on equine gait and behaviour: A pilot study" has been published in Equine Veterinary Education (EVE). This study 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 behaviors indicative of musculoskeletal pain.
Dr. Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopedics at the Animal Health Trust’s Centre for Equine Studies, Newmarket, England, led the study. She 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 could increase the weight an individual horse could carry.
You can purchase access to the entire study on Equine Veterinary Education.The study was titled, "The influence of rider: horse bodyweight ratio and rider-horse saddle fit on equine gait and behaviour: A pilot study" authored by Dyson, S.; Ellis, A.; Guire, R.; Douglas, J.; Bondi, A.; Harris, P.