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Am I stressing out my horse?? I am a big guy, 260 lbs. and fairly green in the horse riding experience. My horse is also a big guy 16 hands and approx. 1350 lbs. Am I putting too much stress on my horse and if so what could I do to minimize the stress.

- D. W.


The short answer to the question of whether you are putting too much stress on your horse is "I don't know." Without seeing your horse there's no way to judge, since the ability of the horse to carry a load is influenced by its build. A well-muscled horse with strong bones and a short-coupled back can carry a lot more than an out of shape, fine-boned horse with a long back. Height alone doesn't tell me much.

As to minimizing the stress, a lot depends on how well you ride. A pack horse can haul a fairly heavy load if it's packed so the weight is distributed well. On the other hand, a rider pounding hard in the center of the back can break down a horse in a hurry. Carrying the bounce in your legs and ankles -- rather than slamming your rear end into the saddle -- will help.

I also don't know anything about your own build. Obviously, every excess pound you can shed will also help. For several months, I've been working on putting my personal exercise program on the web site - and it's finally finished! It's a simple, low impact plan that you can do almost anywhere and at any time. I adapted it from the Royal Canadian Air Force plan several years ago, and it works very well. It will improve your physical condition for riding, help you trim up, and maybe save your horse's back at the same time! To check it out, just click here!

Happy Riding!

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