How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back?

Last Updated on May 3, 2022 by Fabiola L.

Figuring out how much weight can a horse carry on its back is vital to prevent pain or injury to the horse. Let’s find out everything you need to know about how much weight horses can carry!

How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back?

Finding the right horse can be tricky, as we need one that is suited not only in temperament and ability but also in size. The size of a horse matters because this determines how much weight it can carry on its back.

As a rule of thumb, it is estimated that a horse is able to carry as much as 20 percent of its body weight on its back. An average horse weighs 1000 pounds and theoretically could carry a rider weighing up to 200 pounds.

Horse Carrying Weight On Its Back

However, there are some other factors that affect how much weight can a horse carry on its back. If a horse is asked to carry too much weight, there is a risk that he could become injured.

Read more about How Much Does A Thoroughbred Horse Weigh?

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What Factors Affect How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back?

Before we go putting a 200-pound rider on a horse, let’s take a closer look at how we figure out how much weight a horse can carry!

  • Type Of Horse

Horses are very different in terms of musculature and stature. In general, hot-blooded horses such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds are lightweight and have slimmer legs than cold-blooded breeds such as draft horses. The thickness of the limbs also varies considerably, and some breeds have much more muscle than others.

  • Size Of Horse – How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back

It makes sense that the taller the horse, the more weight it can carry. However, some ponies are very strong and can carry a considerable weight on their backs. When it comes to smaller horses and ponies it is often equally as important to match the height of the rider to the horse as well as the weight.

Size Of Horse
  • Horse Fitness Levels

A fitter horse will be able to carry a heavier rider, with a lower risk of injury. When bringing an unfit horse back into work, it should not be asked to carry much weight on its back until it has started to strengthen the muscles along the spine.

  • Rider Ability Level

This is one of the most important factors in determining how much weight can a horse carry on its back. An inexperienced rider will feel much heavier to the horse than an experienced one because they put more pressure on the horse.

The best way to explain this is to imagine carrying a small child. If the child is awake and able to support his own body, he will be fairly comfortable to carry for long periods. If the child is asleep and needs to be supported by the person carrying him, the weight will feel much heavier.

An experienced rider will also be able to move with the movement of the horse, helping the horse to keep his balance at all times. A novice rider is more likely to be unbalanced, which makes the weight much harder for the horse to carry.

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How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back
  • Height Of The Rider

A taller rider can also create balance issues for the horse, especially if they are novice or beginner riders. However, it is not uncommon to see adult riders mounted on ponies in many countries, and these strong mounts are quite capable of carrying this extra weight.

  • Type Of Riding Activity

The weight a horse can carry will be greatly reduced if he is carrying out a strenuous activity or required to exert himself. This includes activities such as long-distance riding and equestrian sports such as jumping.

If the rider just wishes to go for a short trail ride at slow speeds, the horse may be able to carry greater weight.

Is There A Weight Limit To Ride A Horse?

There is no specific weight limit to ride a horse, but if you are learning to ride or hiring a horse you may find that the instructor or horse owner has a weight limit for horse riders. A height limit is often also applied.

This is because an experienced horse person will be able to assess the horse and make an accurate estimate of how much weight it is able to carry. It is better to err on the side of caution rather than risk injury to the horse.

Summary – How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Its Back?

So, as we have learned, how much weight can a horse carry on its back is determined by the size and type of the horse, and the ability level of the rider. An inexperienced rider will be more cumbersome for the horse to carry, and increases the risk of injury to the horse. The horse may also become unbalanced if the rider is too heavy.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how much weight can a horse carry on its back! Were you very sad when you outgrew your first pony? Or perhaps you’ve got a smaller horse that can carry a lot of weight? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


How Much Weight Can A Horse Comfortably Hold?

The weight that a horse can hold on its back is depended on the size and type of the horse. Strong, muscular horses with broad backs and thick limbs can carry more weight than fine, elegant horses. Some of the biggest horses in the word could carry weights of up to 400 pounds under the right circumstances.

How Do I Know If I’m Too Heavy For My Horse?

If you are too heavy for your horse he will struggle to stay balanced when you are riding him. He may trip or stumble, and he may become tired very easily. Your horse might also become unwilling to carry a rider, as he finds it painful.

How Heavy Is Too Heavy To Ride A Horse?

The weight of the rider is only one factor that needs to be taken into account how much weight a horse can carry on its back. The level of experience of the rider will also need to be factored in, as well as they type, age, and breed of the horse.