RoR new Rider Weight ‘rule’

Not Own Photo, Unknown Source.

I’m sure many of your saw the horse and hound article recently about RoR announcing that they will be disqualifying rider’s the judge deems to be too heavy for their horse. Now I believe this is a good rule and I’m glad that it is being introduced. However, I do not feel that it is as easy to judge as it is in the pony showing.

The article says that they recommend the rider and saddle being about 17% of the horse’s body weight. This means that for a 500kg horse, the rider and saddle should weigh less than 13.5 stone. Now my weight fluctuates from between 12.5 and 13 stone regularly, meaning that depending on the weight of a saddle, I could in theory be too heavy for a 500kg TB. And I don’t think I agree with this.

My biggest issue with this is that they are essentially saying that ex racehorses are ‘weaker’ than other horses and aren’t as capable as carrying the same as an identical horse which isn’t a TB. I couldn’t disagree with this idea more. In my opinion what determines how much weight a horse can carry is not breed (especially when so many warmbloods are basically thoroughbreds anyway!), but it’s topline and history.

For example, all 3 horses have a similar conformation and body condition score and all weigh exactly 500kg, but:

  • Horse 1 is a warmblood which has had multiple cases of kissing spine
  • Horse 2 is an ex racehorse with a very well developed top line
  • And horse 3 is a thoroughbred with virtually no topline

Which horse would you feel was capable of carrying the most? Surely the ex racehorse.

Similarly, it is not only the horse’s condition which is important, but the rider’s ability. It is now fairly widely accepted that a more experienced but heavier rider is often easier for a horse to carry than an unbalanced lighter rider. So although a rider might be a bit over the 17% guide, they may be better for the horse than an unbalanced rider under the guide weight.

My other issue with this is that I believe for an ex racehorse to be competing at any show, it must have had at least a basic level of retraining where it should have started to build up the topline to be able to support a rider. I personally feel that this 17% should fluctuate depending on the horse’s topline, not body condition score. If you could score topline say out of 5, with 1 being very poor and 5 being excellent, the percentage could change slightly to maybe something like below:

1

16%

2

16.5%

3

17%

4

17.5%

5

18%

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of introducing weight limits for competing on any horse is a good idea. However, I think you have to be careful how you go about it, especially with a type of horse which already has a reputation within the industry as being undesirable. I know I’m not particularly skinny, but I do not consider myself particularly over weight either and I don’t think that I would be too heavy for any ex racehorse how I am now.

So I think if RoR are not careful about how they go about introducing this new rule, I worry that smaller, finer, flat racing type thoroughbreds may start struggling to find homes due to experienced riders believing they might be told they are too heavy to compete said horse. Or because experienced riders with competitive goals turn them down due to being on the brink of the weight guidelines, they may instead go to heavier, inexperienced riders who may not want to compete seriously, but can still do damage to the horses back.

What are you opinions on this new rule? Do you agree that more subjective observations may be more important to enforcing this rule than rider:horse weight percentages?

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