Uproar has hit the equestrian world as new laws mean that overweight riders may not be able to ride under new strict guidelines.
There was dispute after eight riders were asked to dismount at the ‘Great Yorkshire Show’ earlier on this year. New research by the The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and World Horse Welfare shows that too many horses are being injured due to too much load by an ncreasing amount of riders that are too heavy.
The investigation involved studying six horses as they cantered around with four contrasting weights. The research concluded that there was significant impact on motion and also the horses behaviour when the rider was above a certain weight.
Expert, Jan Rogers how important the rider/horse ratio is saying: Jan Rogers, Head of Equine Development, at the BEF said: “It is a concern, because the preliminary results show that heavy riders do have an impact on the welfare of the horse.
“It’s not about saying that heavier people can’t ride, it’s really about educating people in what’s best for the horse and matching the correct horse to the correct rider.
“We found that people who weighed more often carry their weight in a different way, and that can place pressure on certain points. So it may be a matter of encouraging people to get fitter so that some of that pressure is removed.
“Obviously it is a sensitive area, but I think most riders are concerned about the welfare of the horse and will realise why we are doing this.”
With the UK’s obesity rates increasing rapidly, this means that more and more horses are being paired the pressure of heavy riders.
A representative from the World Horse Welfare added: “If the overall ‘picture’ of the horse and rider looks wrong then it is right to take a closer look and action if appropriate.
“It makes sense to believe that if a horse is overloaded by carrying a rider of a weight that is too heavy for them, then injuries may be more likely to occur.
“We are not discriminating against anyone, nor wishing to bring criticism. No matter what size or shape, horse riding is a sport that is and should remain open to everyone as long as you are matched appropriately with the right horse.
“The issue is one which will always cause much discussion in the equestrian community, but it has so far been welcomed and well-received with everyone clear on the fact that guidelines based on scientific evidence are much needed.”