VetVits May 04, 2017

The rider weight debate may not be a new issue, but it has been steadily gaining momentum in the last year, especially among the showing community. There are currently no official guidelines about riders’ weight in proportion to their horses but with research showing that heavier riders can cause a host of equine health issues, is it time to take action?

Last summer vet Julian Rishworth ordered 8 riders to dismount at the Great Yorkshire Show as he believed they were too heavy and subsequently jeopardising the welfare of the young horses. Experts estimate that horses can be negatively impacted by a rider who is more than 15% of their bodyweight and anyone weighing more than 20%could cause significant damage. Affected horses are at risk of:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Behavioural problems


Several authorities in the equine industry have proposed further research into this issue with the hope of producing official guidelines and possible penalties on the competition circuit.

Riders can take responsibility for their own weight as well as maintaining their horse’s health by:


  • Maintaining a healthy weight and if necessary getting an opinion from a veterinary professional.
  • Remaining fit – unfit or unbalanced riders can have a similar impact to overweight riders.
  • Choosing the correct sized horse for your height and weight.
  • Ensuring your horse is in optimum health.

Was this article helpful?

* * * * *

Thank you for your feedback.



Missed Promotion: {{missedPromo.DisplayText}}






(Basket total above includes promotional prices. You have SAVED £{{cart.TotalPriceListDiscount| number : 2}} today.)

Review basket and check out

Your basket is currently empty