am i too fat to ride a horse

Am I Too Fat to Ride a Horse? Body Image and Equestrian Sports

by | Jul 16, 2023 | Blog

In the world of equestrian sports, there’s a pervasive question that frequently lurks in the back of many riders’ minds: Am I too heavy for my horse? The question pertains not just to the physical capacity of the horse, but it also delves into the realm of self-perception and body image.

Am I too heavy?

Before diving into the depths of body image, let’s first dispel some misconceptions around weight limits. Horses are indeed robust creatures, capable of carrying heavy loads. Historically, they’ve been utilized for their power and strength in fields and on battlefields. However, the horses’ welfare should always be paramount and ensuring the rider’s weight is within a safe limit is a vital part of that.

Typically, a horse can comfortably carry about 15-20% of its own body weight, which includes not only the weight of the rider but also the weight of the saddle and other gear. That means for an average horse, weighing around 1,000 pounds, the total load should be around 150-200 pounds. But remember, these figures serve as rough guidelines rather than strict rules. Factors like the horse’s breed, age, fitness, and the type of riding also play crucial roles in determining what’s a safe load.

It’s worth investing in a proper equine scale to determine your horse’s weight accurately, as visual estimation can be misleading. The Horse Weight scale available on Amazon is an excellent option.

Related: How Much Weight Can Your Horse Carry?

How does the body image factor in?

Moving beyond the strictly physical, the question of “Am I too fat?” often stems from a deeper place of personal insecurity and societal expectations. The world of equestrian sports, especially competitive disciplines like dressage, showjumping, and eventing, is often perceived as one where the ideal image of the rider is slender and athletically built. This perception, propagated through media and often subconscious societal norms, can lead to negative self-perception and even unhealthy behaviors in those who don’t fit that mold.

It’s crucial to remember that riding skills, the bond with your horse, and understanding equine behavior are far more influential on your success and enjoyment in equestrian sports than your body size. Just as in any other sport, riders come in all shapes and sizes. What matters more is being fit, having good balance, and being comfortable in your own skin. For this, regular exercise is more important than meeting a certain weight. You might want to consider getting a gym membership or purchasing home exercise equipment like the YOSUDA Indoor Cycling Bike from Amazon.

Riding attire for all body types

Another significant aspect of body image in equestrian sports is the availability and fit of riding attire. Wearing ill-fitting or unflattering clothes can exacerbate feelings of self-consciousness and discomfort. Luckily, many companies are now offering a range of sizes to fit all body types, creating an inclusive environment in the sport. Companies like & provide riding attire that ranges from XXS to XXL, ensuring every rider finds a perfect fit.

In fact, the Equinavia Astrid Womens Silicone Full Seat Breeches are not just available in a variety of sizes, but they also feature a high waist design for a flattering fit, silicone print for a firm grip, and flexible fabric for maximum comfort.

The Physicality of Riding

Riding a horse involves more than just sitting atop the animal. It’s a physical activity that requires balance, core strength, and coordination, regardless of the rider’s weight. If a larger rider possesses these attributes, they can ride comfortably and effectively without causing undue strain to the horse.

That said, fitness should be a priority for all riders, irrespective of their size. Regular cardio exercises, strength training, and balance-improving activities like yoga can significantly enhance riding skills. Plus, maintaining an active lifestyle helps to foster a positive body image. As part of your home workout regime, you might want to try yoga mats like this one from Amazon Basics or the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat, both available on Amazon.

Horse Management

Just as riders should be mindful of their physical health, the same applies to the horse. Regular vet check-ups, appropriate nutrition, and an effective exercise regime are crucial to maintain your horse’s health and capability to carry weight. You may want to invest in a good-quality feed for your horse. Purina Omolene is a well-balanced and highly recommended product available at most feed stores.

Related: The Best Weight Gain Supplement for Horses

The Right Horse for the Rider

When considering rider weight, the size and build of the horse are crucial factors. A sturdy draft horse will carry a larger rider far more comfortably than a petite Arabian. Therefore, matching the horse to the rider is essential to ensure comfort and safety for both. This extends beyond merely weight; the rider’s height, riding skill level, and the horse’s temperament and training are also critical considerations.

Positive Body Image and Mental Health

Finally, cultivating a positive body image is pivotal for anyone involved in equestrian sports. The pressure to conform to a particular image can lead to mental health struggles, including eating disorders and depression. Riders should focus on being healthy and fit rather than conforming to a specific body size or shape.

Resources like the book “Riding Through Thick & Thin” by Melinda Folse, available on Amazon, offer great insights and practical advice on dealing with body image issues in equestrian sports.


The question, “Am I too fat to ride a horse?” can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. Each horse and rider are unique, with different strengths, sizes, and abilities. Remember, the horse’s welfare should always be the priority, and a good rider is defined more by skill, empathy, and a bond with the horse than by body size.

Ultimately, equestrian sports are meant to be enjoyed by all. They offer an opportunity to develop a deep connection with an amazing animal and to enjoy the great outdoors. By focusing on health, fitness, and the correct match of horse and rider, equestrians of all body types can enjoy and excel in this wonderful sport.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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