Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

New insights on rider weight and horse welfare
Researchers say the most likely reasons for the findings are rider weight as a proportion of horse weight, or rider position in the saddle or on the horse’s back.
Horses can suffer transient lameness if rider weight is too high 

A new study suggests that horses can experience temporary lameness and show signs indicating musculoskeletal pain when there is a high rider:horse bodyweight ratio.

The pilot study, published in the journal Equine Veterinary Education, explored the potential impact of rider weight on horse health and welfare.

Whilst it is widely recognised that inappropriate rider weight has welfare implications, there is a lack of reliable scientific evidence on which to base guidelines.

Six non-lame horses in regular work were ridden by four riders classified as ‘light’, ‘moderate’, ‘heavy’ and ‘very heavy’. A standardised, 30-minute ‘dressage test’ was undertaken by each horse-rider combination and abandoned if researchers observed lameness or behavioural markers of pain.

None of the tests were completed by the heavy or very heavy riders and one out of 12 tests involving medium riders was abandoned. Researchers say the most likely reasons for this are rider weight as a proportion of horse weight, or rider position in the saddle or on the horse’s back.

All horses trotted sound after the test was abandoned and completed the study, moving well when ridden.

Lead author Dr Sue Dyson, head of clinical orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust, said: “The results indicate that every rider and especially heavier riders should ride a horse or pony of appropriate size and fitness for the rider’s weight, with a saddle that is correctly fitted for both horse and rider.”

Funding has been confirmed for the next phase of research, which will explore whether the horse’s fitness, adaptation to carry heavier weights or more ideal saddle fit, could increase the weight individual horses can carry.

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Dogs Trust announces winners of vet student awards

News Story 1
 Cambridge vet student James Jewkes has been awarded first place in the annual Dogs Trust EMS Awards, for his paper on the threat of exotic infectious diseases in rehoming centres. James will now go on a two-week placement at the WVS International Training Centre in South India.

Each year the awards allow vet students to gain hands-on experience during work placements at 13 of the charity’s rehoming centres, then submit reports on a relevant subject.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Former RCVS president to chair new Horse Welfare Board

Former RCVS president Barry Johnson has been appointed as the independent chair of a new Horse Welfare Board. Barry, who is also past chairman of World Horse Welfare, was selected by an industry panel including the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and The Horsemen’s Group.

The welfare board aims to develop a new welfare strategy covering the whole racing industry. Mr Johnson said: “I’m very pleased to have been asked by racing to take on this role and by the sport’s commitment to continuous improvement in the welfare of racehorses."