After watching a video of an overweight person trying to mount a horse, swing his leg over the back and plopping in the saddle, no wonder horses have hock, shoulder and back problems. This video lead me to do some research on the weight limit a horse can carry. Believe it or not, very little research has been done; however there is new research being developed on the weight of the ride and the effects of equine performance. The study was presented at the National Equine Forum on March 8, 2018 shows if a rider is exceedingly overweight for the horse, it can have damaging effect on its performance. Dr. Sue Dyson's study finds that overweight riders are possibly responsible for more damage than first thought.
An ethogram, a standard for determining when a horse is in pain during a ride, indicated when being ridden by a heavier rider, the horse suffered obvious discomfort. Lameness is also a factor. Horses experience lameness for nearly 45 minutes after a ride with a heavy rider. The effects were temporary; however, an obese rider who rides the same horse regularly could induce permanent lameness, according to the study.
Because the majority of the heavier riders had to use undersized saddles, the performance could have lead to additional discomfort.
Dr. Dyson is studying the effects of excessively overweight riders more extensively and will present her findings at the 3rd Conference at Nottingham University on December 8th 2018. I am interested to learn what was found.