A recent study out of Denmark looked at the impact of rider weight gain on horses. The findings were presented at the 15th International Equitation Science Conference, held at the University of Guelph, August 19-21, 2019.
The study included 20 horse/rider combinations and aimed to evaluate the effect of an acute weight increase in rider weight on horses’ behaviour, heart rate and salivary cortisol, and gait symmetry when ridden in a standard dressage test.
Weight was added via a vest worn by the rider. Maximum rider:horse weight ratios were 15-23%.
Increasing weight by 15% and 25% did not result in significant alterations in heart rate, behaviour or gait symmetry. Gait symmetry was unaffected by increased weight as was any conflict behaviour such as head tossing or tail swishing.
Proceedings from all the sessions can be downloaded from the International Society for Equitation Science website equitationscience.com.