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Riding Double

Many of us remember as kids riding double on a horse. Those of us who didn't get bucked off were just plain lucky.

The horse is better suited to pulling heavy loads than to carrying them. Still, we humans have been riding horses for nearly six millennia, and sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. Like riding double. Anatomy expert Susan Harris points out how a second rider stresses the weakest part of a horse's back.

"That part of the horse's spine has no support. Farther back it has support from the pelvis and the hind legs, and farther forward it has at least some support from the ribs. But the horse's back gets weaker the farther back you go. Those back ribs and especially his lower back or lumbar spine or what we call the loins. That is not a good place for a horse to carry weight."

The heavier the horse's build, the more easily he can carry a second rider. But that should still only be done in emergencies.


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