How much weight can horses carry?


New Member
Mar 19, 2003
Milan, Michigan
I've seen a ton of subjects on people thinking they are too large for their horse.

I know a ton of factors can go into how much a horse can carry, weight, athleticness, bone, etc.

I got to thinking about it and I started to become one of those who now thinks they are too fat for their poor nag.

Penny is 15.1, 15 yrs old, appendix QH.

I don't ride very often, and since I last rode I have gained 20lbs. SO I now weigh 180 lbs.

This came about when my friend said she'd love to come ride my horse, I didn't have the heart to tell her at 265lbs there is no way she can ride her:eek:

Then I got to thinking I had heard that they can only carry 20% of their body weight. Which means she would only carry about 160lbs! Granted I don't know for sure her weight *edited* uh, I'm an idiot and was thinking she only weighted like 800lbs, but looking at other horse of her breed, age and size I see she would be more around 1000, so I think I might be okay for her.

And I use to ride a 13.2 Quarter Pony!!!

Now I am wondering how big of a horse I need for my friend. iN the future when I have my own house with a few acres, she wants to have one to ride, lol. Hopefully she will be smaller by then.

I also now a lot of the samller in height ponies are weight carriers, as I hope for my next horse to be a Fjord or Haffie.


New Member
Mar 19, 2003
Milan, Michigan
Here is an old picture of us, at the time I was probably about 155lbs, so add another 30 or so.

I did buy an elliptical machine and have been doing 30 minutes a day on it, hopefully I won't be such a fatty in the I really am not comfy on horses over 15 hands(I'm 5' 1) btw.


Simon & Bob
Jan 30, 2008
Donegal, Eire
In general riding horses/ponies can carry 20% (a fifth) of there own weight. You will need to add the weight of your tack to total weight the horse will be carrying. Certain breeds eg some native ponies, fjords, cobs, fresians and other bulky horses can carry more. Icelandics are capable of carrying up to 33% of their own weight. If you look on the Baileys feeds site, they show you how to calculate the weight of your horse by taking a few simple measurements. From your pic though you look completely fine! I am 9 1/2 stone and occasionally ride a bulky little 12.2!


Trying to escape reality
Apr 26, 2005
Alberta, Canada
First of all, a lot of it is going to depend on how the RIDER carries their weight. 150lbs on a person who is 5'1 is a heck of a lot different than 150lbs on a 5'7 rider. Secondly, it depends on the skill of the rider. A 200lbs rider who is balanced and has stability in their position is generally easier to carry then a 130lbs rider who is flopping all over the place. Now, you say that you've gained weight-but in your favor, I assume that you've been riding while you've been gaining weight, so your balance shouldn't be adversely affected.

Personally, I think you look just fine on him :)


New Member
Nov 21, 2007
with the sheep =D
I am not exactally the ideal weight(only mine is completely medical =[)..and i have a 15hh section D gelding (who is built like a house!!!)

I have ALWAYS worried about my weight for riding him, but recently a girl really really helped me. And alot of people have been reasurring(sp??) me alot, because everyone knows all i want to do is get back in the saddle (After a two year break x.x first i got ill then horse got ill then had to buy a new saddle in my price range...x.x) i am probably more than the reccommended 20% of my geldings weight. I am only 5'6'' though, and alot of instructors have told me that i am fine on him, and he carries me easily..

I think its partly down to the way the rider rides the horse...i am a light rider and alot of other riders/instructors have told me this...many many times xD

Too many overweight riders/people get upset and worry because of what other people think/say. Yes of course sometimes it depends on your weight, its the same for thin people..and i know a few bigger riders that ride better than the thin ones, and the horses are happier aswel =] I get embarrased mounting/dismounting infront of people because i have arthiritis(Sp?) in my right leg and if someone doesnt help me lift my leg over my geldings hind quaters, he ends up half way down the field/school (he has a sensitive(sp?) behind lol!) but thats the only problem i have.

I look huge, i look like i weigh alot more than i actually do..and when i ride i get bullied by other riders because of it..But my gelding is happy and carries my weight with ease, we even jump easily!

I will be getting back in the saddle in a few weeks, my gelding hasnt been ridden for about a year and a half to two years..but i know he will look after me =]

I am also thinking about starting a website for overweight riders/people who want to start riding, something to give them a bit of a confidence know..?

Also riding schools weight limits make overweight riders feel bad about their weight and makes them worry if they have a horse of their own..riding schools only have a weight limit because of the amount of work the horses do and most riding schools dont want to put them under any strain (the horses would probably notice you more than a non riding school horse because of the amount of work they do)

And i think overweight riders are always better with the natives/big breeds. Like welshies (mainly section D's) Shires, Clydesdales ID (crossed with TB or not) the drafts, icelandics e.c.t.

Sorry for the essay!! its something i feel very strongly about and have alot of experiance with :eek:

But yes, from that picture you look fine on him, i think even with the extra weight you would still look fine ^_^ and personally i think riding is a great exercise..its helped me lose alot of weight over the years (but because mines just seems to reappear overnight! =[)
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