Obesity among horse riders has put horses under health risk, warns a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour.
Dr Hayley Randle and team assessed the weight of 152 horses and their riders in Devon and Cornwall. The health of the horses was also assessed.
It was found that only 5% of the riders were below 10% the weight of their horse, which is an optimal level to ride the animal.
Sixty two percent of the riders weighed 10%-15% the weight of the horses, a level considered as satisfactory, while 32% of them weight more than 15% the weight of their horse.
Overload puts the health of the horse under risk. It may lead to lameness and back pain. The horse may also not respond to commands properly and exhibit behavioral problems, such as bucking and rearing.
The authors warn the horse riders' community to be more aware of these welfare issues and advises heavy riders to ride bigger horses.