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Determining safe rider weights for horses

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By Olivia Azouaghe

Heavier riders can induce temporary lameness and discomfort in horses.

That was the finding of a pilot study on the effects of rider weight on equine performance, which was presented at the National Equine Forum last week.

It showed that the heavier the rider, the more damage is caused to the horse being ridden.

The study, which was led by Sue Dyson from the Animal Health Trust, assessed gait and behavioural responses in six horses ridden by four riders of similar ability but different sizes.

Rider weights ranged from 60.8 kg to 142.1 kg. All horses weighed between 500 to 600 kg. The riders were categorised as light, moderate, heavy and very heavy according to the rider to horse bodyweight ratio. Light riders had a bodyweight of between 10 to 12 per cent of the bodyweight of the horse, moderate between 12 and …

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