An investigation into the effect of increasing rider weight on the horses’ metacarpal, metacarpophalangeal, metatarsal, metatarsophalangeal joint flexions and stride length in walk and trot.

The ethical weight bearing capacity of horses has been under scrutiny through equine professionals, veterinary surgeons, coaches, judges and riders for many years. Literature within this area is limited. The average weight of people in the UK is rising research in this field needs to advance to ensure that the welfare of the horse is not compromised. This study aimed to determine whether increasing rider weight poses a significant effect on the flexion angles of the carpus, metacarpophalangeal, metatarsal and metatarsophalangeal joint angles and any effects on stride length.


  • Increasing rider weight influences stride length and limb joint flexion angles of horses at walk and trot.
  • Results indicate compensation for weight bearing and thus increased potential for musculoskeletal compromise.
  • Further research is warranted with larger cohorts and horse/rider weight ratios.

Authors: Haggett P., Charlton S., Gilligan S., Hunnisett A.

Presented at: Horses Inside Out Confernece, February 2024, Animal Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Conference, April 2024.