Horse and Rider
In my saddle fitting efforts one problem I see, (and few talk about) is the importance to matching horse and rider size.
I was at a ride in Arizona recently and I saw a male rider who together with his saddle probably weighed over 250 lbs, riding a 14.2 size horse that may have weighed 775 lbs. No custom saddle, not even our adjustable saddles, can make that horse suitable for that rider. We ask a lot from the horse we ride in endurance. But in the sense of fairness to the horse the load we ask him to carry needs to match the horse’ size and strength. And just because a horse can carry a large person for short rides doesn’t mean its OK to sign him on for a long distance ride that usually involves some climbing, going thru sand, and other challenging conditions.
The Weight of the Horse and Rider
So here is a rule of thumb, riders weight, together with the endurance saddle, or custom saddle SHOULD NOT EXCEED 25% of horse weight. 22% is even better.
I am not saying large people should not ride or do endurance. But they should get themselves a horse large enough with a strong upright back, to be proportional to the weight they ask the horse to carry. Saddle fit is also very important for large riders. Often bars of tree need to be both longer and wider to distribute weight without exceeding 4 psi so damaging pressure concentrations don’t build up.
There are charts which give you the approximate weight of your horse based on height and circumference of the chest.
Many people think just a lighter saddle will fix this issue. Saving weight by going to a lighter saddle can help, but saddle fit or how the weight is distributed is always more important. This also has a bigger impact on horse welfare and performance than just the endurance saddle or custom saddle weight.