Why Do You Need to Know What I Weigh?
You may be wondering why Kaizen Farm needs to know what you weigh before allowing you to ride. Aren’t horses strong, large animals that can easily carry most anyone? Yes, horses are wonderful, majestic creatures that are capable of so many amazing things; however, just like you have a limit of how much you could carry in a backpack when you run, horses have a limit of how much they can carry on their backs. There are a couple of factors to help you better understand why we need to know what you weigh and how it affects the horse you ride.
Let’s start with how much weight a horse can carry. On average a horse can carry 20% of their weight. This means the weight of rider and saddle combined. An average English saddle weighs about 20 pounds. So say you weigh 140 pounds, plus the 20 pounds for the saddle brings you up to 160. Meaning you wouldn’t be able to ride a horse under 800 pounds. Now at this weight you still have a lot of options for horses that could be suitable for you to ride. Another thing we have to consider at Kaizen is that these horses are being ridden daily by riders of varying skill levels. If you are a newer rider, chances are you are still a little unbalanced and harder for a horse to carry. This means, even if you aren’t over 15% of the horses carry weight, that you could be much harder for a horse to carry than a skilled rider at the 20% weight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be riding, just that we have to take into consideration the horse's welfare. In general, a horse that carries more than 20% of its weight is more likely to trip and injure itself or its rider. The school horses are used frequently and in order to ensure safety for horse and rider we keep the 20% weight limit in mind when matching a rider to a horse.
Another thing that we must take into consideration is the age of the horses we have. A young, unbalanced horse shouldn’t carry 20% of its weight yet if we don’t want to cause long term damage to them physically. Similarly, we have to be careful with our senior horses by making sure they are not overburdened for their age and body condition. Bone structure and density will also play a role in how much weight a horse can carry. A horse with a shorter back or thicker bone structure, like a draft, will be able to carry more weight than a horse with a longer back or more petite bone structure, like a racehorse, even if the two horses weigh the same.
A horse that works hard and carries heavier riders requires more calories. This means if a horse's workload increases or they start carrying heavier riders, more money has to go into feeding them. Horses also require regular visits with the farrier to keep their hooves balanced. A horse with unbalanced or untrimmed hooves is more likely to injure itself, especially if they are carrying heavy loads often. There is a lot of work that goes into keeping our school horses and ponies healthy and in good condition for our students.
We have a limited number of horses and they can only be ridden a limited number of times during the week. We also want everyone to have the opportunity to learn about horses and experience the joy that comes with interacting with them.
More information can be found in these articles: