Business takes action over “one of the most difficult aspects to raise with riders.”

As shows clamp down on competitors deemed too big for their horses, a retailer is offering riders the chance to find out if they are suitably sized for their mounts.

Freedom Saddlery is hosting a ‘Weigh for Welfare’ day on 16 July at its base near Chester using its in-house weigh-bridge. 

Riders are invited to bring their horses and ponies to be weighed, and for themselves to be weighed with tack, riding clothes and boots, to discover if they are within recommended ratios. 

The offer is free with a donation to World Horse Welfare requested. 

Size matters

The widely accepted horse/rider weight ratio is 20% maximum and ideally nearer 15%.

At last month’s Royal Three Counties Show, 12 riders were asked to dismount by stewards under the show’s ‘suitably mounted’ rule. The Great Yorkshire has enforced a 20% weight ratio limit for some years. 

Freedom Saddlery’s proprietor Steph Bradley, a Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) qualified saddle fitter, is particularly concerned about how rider size can affect saddle fit.

“One of the most difficult aspects of saddle fitting is having to have raise the [weight and size] issue with riders. But as saddle fitters, it is incumbent on us to do so in the interests of horse welfare,” says Steph who is also a UK Level 3 riding coach. 

“You can be too tall/large for a horse or pony and consequently requiring a saddle that is too long. Or you might be in a correctly sized saddle for the horse but sitting at the back of it, compromising your riding position. 

“This all affects the horse or pony, which will eventually suffer musculoskeletal pain.”

Steph adds that she’s equally looking forward to telling riders that they are within the limits and have nothing to worry about. 

The ‘Weigh for Welfare’ Day is at Freedom Saddlery’s base, Whitegate Farm Livery & Training Centre, on Sunday, 16 July. Weigh-ins will take place in a private, confidential space.