Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:30 pm Post subject: Weight of pony riders
The question we're discussing is how much weight a small pony (9 hands 2 inches) can carry.
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A rough rule of thumb on how much a horse can carry is about 20% of its bodyweight. So my 1200 lb Thoroughbred, for example, could carry about 240 lb. That total weight does include things like saddles and anything else (if there are saddlebags, etc).
It's not at all precise. A lot depends on the horse's fitness; a more fit horse can carry weight more easily, and a fat horse is already carrying "extra" weight. It also depends on the rider's skill. A well-balanced heavy rider is much easier for a horse to carry than a light rider who bounces and jounces and flops around. And some horses can carry more than they look like they can; the Arabian is fine-boned and looks delicate, but was bred to carry good-sized adults for very long distances in terrible climate conditions (hot, dry desert). Much depends on the individual horse and the rider in question.
In addition, that rule of thumb is mostly for large horses. The "native ponies" of the British Isles, such as the Shetlands, the Connemaras, and the Welsh, are small but were bred to carry weight. A typical Shetland pony is 9 or 10 hands, but was bred to work all day then carry their farmers (who are not known for being small) around after work! I have read that the rule of thumb for these "native ponies" is about a stone per hand; a stone is 14 lb. So a 9-hand Shetland pony could theoretically carry 126 lb with ease.
A miniature horse is not a "native pony." A mini has different proportions from the pony-type body. Overall, minis were bred for other purposes than weight carrying. An average mini weighs 150-250 lbs; by the 20% rule, a mini probably shouldn't be ridden by anyone weighing more than 30-50 lbs. The American Miniature Horse Association has a lot of information on their website: