How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Their Back

How Much Weight Can A Horse Carry On Their Back

I have owned horses all my life, and one question I get asked often is how much weight can a horse carry on their back? The answer is not straight forward. How much a horse can carry depends on several factors. In this article, you will find out the factors to consider when working out how much weight your horse can carry. We will also discuss why you need to break in a horse and how to do it safely.

How much weight can a horse carry on their back

The weight of the rider

If you’re wondering what you can expect your horse to carry, just keep in mind that it will be more than just your body weight. In fact, if you weigh 150 pounds and ride with a saddlebag and full water canteen, it’s likely that your total load will be something closer to 200 pounds. That includes t

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

he saddle itself (usually around 60 pounds), bridle and bit (another 15-20 pounds), cotton halters or lead ropes (3-5 ounces each), plus whatever gear you decide to pack into your saddlebags: boots, jackets, gloves…you get the picture!

When combined with all those things—and depending on what type or breed of horse you’re riding—the total load could be as much as 1/4th of its body mass! In other words: if your Quarter Horse weighs 800 pounds, then he should still be able to carry up to 200 pounds safely on his back without injury.

Common activities where horses carry weight

In the United States, horse owners commonly use horses for recreational and competitive riding. In a recent federal census, the leading use of U.S. horses was for recreation (47 percent), which ranges from trail riding to arena work. Farm and ranch work followed at 25 percent, which can include sorting cattle, carrying equipment in packs and pulling carts or lumber.

When asking our equine partners to participate in these activities, we also need to consider their welfare. Owners must be aware of how much work is appropriate for their horse. In order to help determine this, researchers have studied the ideal weight carrying capacity of horses. 

Why a horse needs to be broken in

You might have seen horses being ridden by people who have never ridden a horse before. If you’ve ever wondered why they don’t fall off, or why the horse doesn’t run away with them, it’s because the person riding them has been broken in to follow their commands. When a horse isn’t trained properly, it can be dangerous for both the rider and other animals around them. The most important thing to remember about training is that it takes time–the longer it takes for the trainer to train their horse, the stronger bond they’ll form with each other once they’re finished!

How a horse is broken in

In order to train your horse to carry a rider, saddle, and a rider’s weight, you will have to break them in. The breaking in process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on how long it takes the horse to become accustomed to each aspect of carrying weight on their back.

When breaking in your horse for riding purposes, it is important that you teach them first about saddles before attempting anything else. This way when they are ready for things like carrying riders or harnesses (a device used for pulling objects), they won’t be as nervous or scared because they already know what saddles look like and how much comfort they provide horses with their soft padding and adjustable straps.

How to break in a horse safely

Before you start to train a horse, there are a few things you need to ensure:

  • Make sure that your horse is healthy and in good condition. This means making sure they’re mentally, physically, nutritionally and emotionally sound.
  • Get them used to the saddle by brushing it against their back in slow movements. If they start getting nervous about this, then stop for now until they’re ready for more work on breaking them in safely.


In conclusion, a horse can carry about 400 pounds of weight on its back. The best way to determine how much weight your horse should be carrying is by visiting with a veterinarian who will be able to tell you what kind of strain the weight will cause for the horse. If this information is not readily available, then you may want to consult with someone knowledgeable in horses or go online and use some general guidelines.

Finally, we hope that this article has provided you with enough information so that you can make an informed decision about how much weight your horse should be carrying on their backs!


Though this article focused on how much weight a horse can carry on their back, it is also important to remember that they need to be broken in properly if you want them to last. Horses will never truly be broken in as long as you ride them correctly and with care. This is why it is always recommended to learn how much weight your horse can carry before breaking them in!

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