A HEAVYWEIGHT campaign is underway to ensure horses are not harmed by riders who are too big for their animals at the North’s leading agricultural show.

The Great Yorkshire Show has included special regulations in their horse schedule warning riders that, with their tack and saddle, they should be less than 20 per cent of the horse's weight.

The reminder comes after concern over the past two years and incidents where riders have been told they cannot carry on.

Last year 12 riders were asked to dismount, four chose to be weighed to challenge the request and were found to be more than 25 per cent of the pony’s weight. In 2016 eight riders were asked to dismount.

In the show catalogue riders were warned: "The Yorkshire Agricultural Society would like to reinforce the message that routine monitoring of animal welfare is in force across the Great Yorkshire Showground.

"In line with this, we would like to remind riders that they should be of an appropriate size and weight for the horse/pony being ridden anywhere on the showground, exercise areas or vehicle parks, day or night.

"The Great Yorkshire Show’s equine regulations state that the rider and tack weight should not exceed 20 per cent of the animal’s bodyweight.

"The team and its vets are working across the showground throughout the event to enforce regulations where required.”

A spokesman declined to comment but sent a copy of the regulation which stated: "Equine welfare is of paramount importance and all riders should be of an appropriate size and weight for the horse/pony being ridden. The Society reserves the right to take further action against any competitor or exhibitor whose animal is being ridden by anyone whose size or weight compromises the welfare of the horse or pony being ridden.”

The show’s livestock and entries coordinator Amanda Stoddart West told one equine magazine some offenders were adults on ponies, riding in preparation for a child to compete and were less than polite when asked to dismount. Some had even accused her of encouraging eating disorders and not understanding the profession, but she said many riders are supportive.

“We don’t want to sound arrogant but if people want to come to our show they have to abide by our rules. We are not trying to change the world we just want people on the right horses,” she added.

The Great Yorkshire show is being held at the Harrogate showground from Tuesday July 10 to Thursday July 12.