Horses, And Their Bad Backs

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horseFrom Your Health Journal…..”I wanted to promote an article I found from The Telegraph, out of the UK, written by Sarah Rainey entitled The horses saddled with our obesity epidemic. I remember watching the movie Jack and Jill with Adam Sandler last year – there was a scene, where the larger character Jill (which was Adam Sandler as a female playing his twin) sat on a pony. From their, the pony’s legs gave out as the pony went into a ‘split’ position. Of course, it was photo-shopped to appear the heavier set Jill weighed too much for the pony to endure. Now, in Britain, horses are feeling strain on their backs as overweight riders are putting too much pressure on them. According to the latest research, a third of recreational riders are too heavy for their mounts, putting the animals at risk of bad backs, arthritis and lameness. The study of 152 horses from Devon and Cornwall found that just one in 20 riders is within the optimum weight range. As well as damaging the animals’ health, overweight riders can cause behavioral problems, such as bucking, rearing and disobedience. Obesity is on the rise all over the world, as well as the increase of obesity related illness. Please visit The Telegraph’s web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

It’s not just humans who get bad backs. Now horses are feeling the strain as overweight riders put the pressure on

We all know Britain is getting heavier. But now our bulging waistlines have claimed a new victim: the horse.

According to the latest research, a third of recreational riders are too heavy for their mounts, putting the animals at risk of bad backs, arthritis and lameness. The study of 152 horses from Devon and Cornwall found that just one in 20 riders is within the optimum weight range. As well as damaging the animals’ health, overweight riders can cause behavioural problems, such as bucking, rearing and disobedience.

“People think that horses are such big animals, they must be OK,” explains Dr Hayley Randle, the equitation scientist who led the study, published in this month’s Journal of Veterinary Behaviour. “But the health impact on the horse can be quite extreme, quite quickly.”

Norman Thelwell, the celebrated cartoonist, poked fun at heavy hackers in his “Riding Academy” sketches (pictured, below). While it’s easy to snigger at plump Penelope (and her rotund mount, Kipper), experts say the issue of overweight riders is all too serious. While amateur schools have a weight limit of 12 to 16 stone for new riders, some private owners are unaware of potential injuries.

Keith Chandler, president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, says a proportion of leg and back injuries he treats at his practice in Inverness are caused by obese riders. “Overweight riders tend to be people at the lower end of the professional spectrum – happy hackers or pleasure riders,” he explains. “We see people on horses clearly unsuitable for them.”

The guidelines in Dr Randle’s research state that the “optimum” weight for a rider is less than 10 per cent the weight of their mount (US guidelines say 20 per cent). With the average stable horse weighing 500kg to 600kg (79 to 94 stone) this means a rider should weigh 60kg (9.4 stone).

But since horses have been lugging heavy loads for centuries – armour; carriages; caravans – you’d have thought they’d be used to it by now.

To read the complete article…..Click here