Balance plays a huge role in how a horse carries weight on its back. If you are a well-balanced and coordinated rider, it will make it much easier for the horse carrying you, no matter your weight.
The Belgian Horse is a draft breed that is sturdy, strong, and well-mannered. Belgian horses are versatile, used for anything from pulling a carriage to dressage.
The Highland Pony may only reach a little over 14hh, but they are tougher and built like a brick house. Quarter Horses are widely used in rodeo and particularly in steer wrestling, where a larger male rider (250+ lbs) leans off the side to catch a steer and flip it over.
This breed was often used in wars years ago, as well as for pulling in the fields. If you are looking to ride in style and grace, the Frisian horse breed easily catches the eye.
These horses carry heavy weight well and move as smoothly as a Corvette. Frisians are a horse of choice for those wanting to ride in the dressage ring.
We'd love to hear which breeds work for our riders of all sizes, larger and smaller and everything in between! The fact of the matter is a persons love for horses doesn’t decrease s their weight increases.
So how do heavier riders find a horse that can comfortably carry them but still be an enjoyable ride? Luckily, there are many breeds of horses that are naturally heavier and can easily accommodate larger riders.
I also highly recommend you check out the book, Fit & Focused in 52 (on Amazon.com), no matter your weight. This breed can be a great choice if you love dressage or one heck of a nice looking trail horse.
In fact, the Frisian horse is very versatile and you may find the breed nicely suited to whatever equestrian sport you enjoy most. Funny enough, she didn’t weigh more than 125 lbs but, still, he was awesome and great for even beginner riders to take out on the trail.
It is possible to buy Clydesdale's from the Budweiser breeding program, but there are also private breeders as well that sell riding prospects. The only disadvantage to a horse like a Clydesdale for general riding is their long feathers.
Even at the low end, any adult Clydesdale should easily be able to handle a rider and saddle combo of 360 – 400 lbs. If you get a mare, you can easily cross her with a variety of different breeds to make excellent jumping horses.
Shire crosses are often seen at the upper levels of show jumping and dressage arenas. Sampson, a Shire gelding, has held the Guinness World Record for the tallest horse ever since 1850.
That means that this Shire horse, Sampson, could easily accommodate a combined rider and saddle weight of a whopping 672 pounds. Some mustangs are actually very tall and wide and can accommodate a larger rider easily.
My own mare is a beautiful 16.1 hand palomino paint with a very nice build. Known for their beautiful red color and size and strength, this breed of horse originates from Suffolk, England.
They were developed, as were the most draft breeds, to pull heavy farm equipment, but they make excellent riding animals as well. They are so popular, in fact, that they are one of the few breeds included in the video game, Red Dead Redemption 2.
This means the Suffolk Punch could easily carry a rider and saddle weight of 400+ pounds. As a larger woman who is also tall, 5’8” and 275 lbs at present, there are definitely a few types of quarter horses I feel very comfortable.
My favorite horse at a friends ranch was, for the longest time, a bay roan Hancock mare. In fact, if you pay attention to western competitions like roping and steer wrestling, you will typically find more men that are larger in stature competing just fine on the Quarter Horses and Appendix Quarter Horses that carry them.
A 1500 lb Quarter horse should be able to easily accommodate a combined rider and saddle weight of 300 lbs. The horse needed to be able to do whatever asked including hold a steer, gather cattle and check miles of fence line.
American Paint Horses are typically between 14 and 17 hands tall and weigh between 950 – 1500 pounds. The larger representatives of the breed should be able to easily accommodate a combined rider and saddle weight of 300+ lbs.
Easily reaching between 16 and 17 hands or taller, these giants of the horse world are a great option for larger riders. That means, even if you just want to ride trail or chase after some cows, you may be able to find a warm blood on “discount” for that purpose.
While high performing members of the various breeds sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, I personally have owned a few in the more reasonable $1,500 to $3,000 price range that made excellent low-level English show horses or just nice horses to pop down the trail on. What you are looking for, in this case, is a horse with the right size and muscle tone to carry a larger rider.
This means that a warm blood horse could potentially carry a rider and saddle combination of 300 pounds or more. The Andalusian horse is very popular in many countries due to their beautiful, Spanish look and their versatility.
This breed comes in a wide variety of colors and is known for horses with muscular, compact bodies. Andalusian horses are usually at least 15 hands tall and at least 1200 lbs which means that larger members of the breed are excellent for heavier riders.
A 1,500 lb Andalusian horse would be able to easily carry a combined rider and saddle weight of 300 lbs. The current world record mammoth donkey is 17 hands tall and lives with his owner in Texas.
Work with a trusted trainer to assess how the individual horse acts and travels when you’re on its back. Being lightweight and unbalanced can be as difficult for the horse to carry as a rider who’s perfectly balanced, but too heavy.
If your horse has his ears back, swishes his tail, and/or tries to buck when you’re riding, he may be trying to tell you’re too heavy. He was foaled in 1746 and was the grandson of the Darla Arabian, one of the founding fathers of the Thoroughbred breed.
Enjoy long rides: The Quarter Horse has a great deal of stamina and is happy to spend all day under the saddle. They were used as work horses during the day and raced over quarter miles distances during the evening.
Desire a wolf in sheep’s clothing : Often referred to as ‘a sleepy little critter that can unwind like lightning,’ a Quarter Horse can be calm as a cucumber, suddenly spring to life, then return to completely calm again as needed. Some horses will carry a defective gene that will not only inhibit their performance, but will also make it harder for them to stay healthy.
Now though, this breed successfully competes in many English (and some Western) disciplines at the top levels. When you consider that early Irish Drafts descended from Connemara Ponies crossed with Thoroughbreds, Clydesdale's, and Shires, it’s easy to see why they’re more than capable of carrying heavier riders.
Want a family horse: Irish Drafts are docile, have great temperaments, and love being around people. You’re a budding show jumper: Irish Drafts have a great jump and extremely tough feet.
They’ve been crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce world-class competition horses for jumping and evening. If, on the other hand, they love doing a particular activity (e.g. jumping), they’ll happily do it all day long with gusto.
Despite its height (normally under 14.2 HH), it has the heart and strength of a lion and can carry most adults without batting an eye. Believed to descend from the horses that lived in Scotland after the last Ice Age, Highland Ponies display a lot of primitive characteristics, such as a dorsal stripe and zebra markings on their forelegs.
Want a pony that won’t panic: Having been used as a war horse during the First World War, the Highland Pony is a calm breed, won’t spook easily, and typically isn’t phased by loud noises. Even today, they’re used in Scotland to stalk deer, so they need to be able to move quickly and quietly over rough ground.
Want to ride and drive: Highland Ponies are just as happy under saddle as they are in a harness, and their thick manes and elegant frame makes them a beautiful sight pulling carts and carriages. Like to feel like royalty: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is a huge fan of the breed.
Hold Your Horses: Highland Ponies are easy keepers and have a tendency to put weight on easily. Note: In some countries, Percheron's have more of a heavier build, while they’re slightly smaller in America.
Love a horse with a good nature: As any owner of a Percheron will tell you, they’re super laid back. Like gentle giants: The Percheron is an extremely quiet breed and is happy around children, adults, and other animals.
During the Middle Ages, they would regularly carry knights in heavy suits of armor into battle. They’re ideally suited to heavy and tall riders and are strong enough not to be easily unbalanced.
Hold Your Horses: While leg feathers are beautiful, they do require a lot of maintenance. If you don’t have a good balance then it’ll be very difficult for even the largest horses to comfortably carry the weight.
The average Clydesdale can carry up to a maximum of 350 pounds, but remember that every horse has different capabilities. It’s important that you sit properly, don’t move around a lot, and have a good center of gravity.