Why do horses carry extra weight?

As we talked about in an earlier article, the muscles and bones of horses aren’t exactly lightweights. The extra pounds carry some weight in the form of muscle tissue—and that adds to the weight of the horse.

Most horses are not much heavier than their weights say. They’ll weigh 10 to 15 percent higher during a ride than their actual weights. For that reason, horses that are “heavyweights” have a much easier time getting up from a standing position. If a horse has a saddle and a harness, a harness means more weight to carry around—not much extra.

Some horses, however, are “heavyweights”: they can be as heavy as their bodies are tall, and they’re usually the smallest horses that you’ll ever come across. They usually weigh about 4 to 6 pounds and have an average height of 5 to 6 inches, and they’re considered “lightweights” because their bodies are fairly short. If a horse can move the straps of a harness, he’s considered “lightweight.”

What does this mean?

It’ll vary by individual, but one thing is pretty clear: heavy horses may give you more of a challenge as compared to light horses. When you get to know a horse, he might appear to be very easy—but you’ll find out the hard way, if the horse walks on his hind legs (for example) or rides with his forefeet (for example).

If you are thinking about training your horse, ask yourself: could a heavy horse make you more tired when you ride? Is he easily distracted by someone or something distracting? Does he have trouble staying balanced?

There are plenty of other tips and tricks to make your horses more challenging, including:

Don’t forget your harness!

In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, you need to make sure your harness fits correctly. It should be able to sit on the horse securely, but also be loose enough to not give your horse an easy start. I know, it sounds obvious, but when you find out that your horse is wearing a harness, make sure it meets your expectations.

You can also put your horse’s harness on a short cord on the outside. This will make sure all the straps come together in a tidy, tidy way.

Have patience with your horses! They are just as likely as you are to find yourself having to stand up from a mounted position too soon. You should also try to work your horse