Australian equestrian federation brings in guidance on maximum rider weight

  • Equestrian Australia (EA) has announced a new guide stating that the maximum load a horse is expected to carry should not exceed 20% of the horse’s weight.

    EA said the guide, introduced as a horse welfare move, has been adopted by dressage and eventing, and other disciplines are considering following suit.

    It means that the rider and equipment together should not weigh more than a fifth of the horse’s approximate weight.

    EA said the purpose of introducing this guide — not a rule — is to “reinforce EA’s commitment to best practice striving for optimal health, safety and welfare of the athlete-horse combination”.

    The federation said: “The weight combination of both horse and athlete can impact on the overall healthy and safe movement, biomechanics, positioning and balance of this combination on varying surfaces. These factors are all key elements in maintaining optimal welfare management for this combination.”

    An online calculator can help assess how much a horse or pony should carry

    The aim of the guide is also to “provide education and clarity and highlight awareness of Equestrian Australia’s expectations to athletes, coaches, owners, parents, judges, officials and the public on the aspect of a horse’s welfare and capacity to carry weight,” EA said.

    “This guide will provide athletes, owners and parents with a reasonably accurate measurement of the maximum burden for a horse to carry. This guide will support coaches in conversations with their athletes about carrying capacity considerations, as they currently do, about choice of mount and all animal welfare aspects of horsemanship.

    “This guide tailors the capacity of the horse across the entire height range to a standard accepted internationally, and ensures appropriate mounts for humans of every age and size.”

    EA said international animal welfare guides “include advocacy for horse welfare on this issue”, and that the guide will “give our equestrian community a reasonably accurate measurement of the maximum burden for a horse to carry”.

    Nothing will change in the assessment of a horse and its athletic performance by any judge and no one will be prevented from riding. EA added that weighing riders with their tack is common practice in endurance competitions but “this will NOT take place at any competition beyond endurance at this time”.

    EA also pointed out that the maximum a horse should carry may be less for young horses, those recovering from injury or surgery or returning to work after a long break or pregnant mares, or adult riders schooling young ponies or horses.

    • What do you think about the guide? Send your thoughts to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, and you could win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger

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