2015-12-15: Hi! You're probably here because you did a Google search for 'plus sized horseback riders' or you saw my content quoted elsewhere. There are a couple of things I'd like you to know.

I am still here! But I am living away from my horses and not riding often. I could tell you a lie and say that I am, but I have always endeavored to give you the truth here. As a result, I'm not feeling terribly motivated to write blog posts and I feel out of touch with the community.

I'd love for you to stay a while and look back through the archives. Visit the links listed below. We still have an active forum community and I post on the Facebook page from time to time.

I have tentative plans to try to get more involved in the horse world in 2016, and I will absolutely share whatever that adventure becomes with you, so keep checking back!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Beginning Is A Good Place To Begin

This morning, I weighed in at 291lbs.

For some, this would be horrifying. For me, this is a triumph!

Yes, I am a fat girl. And yes, as you can see by the picture, I endeavor to ride horses. It's kind of an oxymoron, considering the first image that pops to mind when someone thinks of a talented equestrienne is one that is slim, trim and svelte. For anyone whose mind just did a double take when I said I was a fat girl who rides horses, my fat horse and I are here to change the way you think. For anyone whose mind just took a wistful trip down through their childhood memories in which they once rode horses but now feel they are too fat to do so, my fat horse and I are here to change the way you think. And for anyone whose mind did an acknowledging little nod and said "Mhmm, you go girl!", I am here to celebrate with you.

My name is Amanda and I am a 24 year old fat girl. I have owned, loved, and ridden horses my entire life and I have been a fat girl since I was born - at a whopping 10lbs11oz! Not only am I fat, but I am also built like an amazon. I teeter at about 5'11", my hands rival those of any man, and my feet are a size 12. I never have been, nor will I ever be that talented equestrienne who is slim, trim and svelte (nor will I ever probably have to stand on tiptoe to kiss a man but I digress!). I'm okay with that. I have come to love myself, and the skin that I am in. I want what is best for myself and will work to get that.

The fat horse's name is Bronwyn. She is my partner entirely by chance (I believe it is divine intervention, I am sure some will disagree) and I will someday share the story. In the meantime, she is a fat horse. She is a draft cross (which is the only part of her lineage we feel we can safely assume!), and we have been told she is 5 years old. Due to a serious starvation as a young mare, she is obsessed with food. Not only is she obsessed with food, but she gains weight merely by looking at food. Like me, she is relatively fit (in the "workhorse" way, not in the "sprinting thoroughbred" way), but still very much out of shape.

My goals for Bronwyn and I? To show open in English pleasure this summer and not run out of breath (for both of us!). To ride in clinics and with your stereotypical equestrienne types and let people know that not only can I ride a horse as a fat girl, but I can do it well. I want to do with Bronwyn all of the things that any other rider aspires to do with any talented young horse.

Why am I writing this blog?

I AM NOT writing this blog to fill the heads of plus sized riders with fluff and rainbows. I am not here to say "even if you weigh 500lbs, you should ride horses!". I am not even here to say that everyone who weighs 300lbs is fit or ready to ride their horses. I AM here to say that life doesn't end just because you're fat, and fat is not a good excuse to stop doing the things that you enjoy.

I am writing this blog:

- to TALK about plus sized riders. People need to be aware!
- to SHARE ideas and resources with other plus sized riders.
- to SHOWCASE talented plus sized equestrians and share success stories.
- to DEBUNK many of the myths surrounding plus sized riders and the horses they ride and the equestrian world they live in.
- to INSPIRE those who have packed on a few pounds but used to love riding and want to investigate if this is a possibility at all for them.

As plus sized riders, one thing I will stress - it is so important to recognize your own body's limitations and the limitations of your horse. If you are overweight and you want to get back in the saddle, do not expect to ride an endurance ride on your first trip out, or ride for hours even. When I was beginning to get back into shape, fifteen minutes was a LONG, BIG workout of a ride for me, and it might be for you, too.

Another realization you may have to come to is that your current mount is not suitable for you at this time in your life. I am not saying all plus sized riders need a draft horse (in fact, I will debunk that myth soon enough in an entry!), but if you plan to ride as a "fat girl" (or guy!), the truth may be that the horse standing in your backyard right now might not be a horse that meets your needs any longer.


  1. Hi Amanda,

    I got here through your comment at Joy Nash's blog.
    I love that I am finally able to read a blog from the beginning - no having to go back a gazillion months to find out about how it all started :)
    I bookmarked your site, so I can come back and read it again and again. I love the combination of fat girl + riding! I used to love horseback riding when I was a teen. I stopped, and sometimes I thought about starting again. But as you can imagine, that svelte, trim image kept me away. Also I was terrified I'd bend some poor fragile horse's back with my weight.
    Oh, before I forget it: beautiful horse, beautiful name! And: "my fat horse and I are here to change the way you think" is just about the funniest sentence EVER, and I almost peed myself laughing.
    Good luck with your blog!

  2. LOVE the blog, Amanda!! You inspire and motivate me. I am so honored to be able to say "That awesome chic is MY FRIEND!"

    Love you!

  3. Awesome blog! I am definitely a plus sized rider and would love to hear about other plus sized riders' experiences!

  4. Great blog- well-written and inspiring! Can't wait to read more!

  5. hello you are a insperation if u have a myspace i would love to add u =) i am a plus size horse back rider and i ride just as good as they skinny riders =) my my space is www.myspace.com/weluvhrses2

  6. Fantastic blog! I'm a plus size girl who has let my weight get in the way of enjoying life for too many years. You are inspiring me to make realistic changes and accept that I don't have to be "perfect" before I can participate in something I enjoy.

  7. This really is a great blog Amanda. I am going to link to it on our site because I am absolutely it will inspire some of our girls. It certainly has done it for me.

    Well done

  8. Good to see another rider who won't let something like weight keep them from doing what they love the most! I'm a plus sized rider that shows in hunt seat equitation and I love jumping (which many people frown upon due to my size) but with the right horse and the right attitude anything is possible.

  9. Love to see your blog Amanda! I am a fat girl also, and have ridden for years. At my heaviest, I weighed 331, give or take a few pounds. I am now down to 235 and am totally thrilled. Being heavy has its drawbacks for certain but never limited my riding. I still rode (and ride) lots of hot horses that were wound tight and ready to roll.

    I showed almost every weekend. I wish I could say I do now, but retired my old horse where he could live his days out happily. I am now on the hunt for a new friend. No horse could ever take his place but maybe there is one out there that will fit into my heart like he does.

    In my time, I have driven tons of horses and love to drive. My heart is torn between the two. I guess this means that I will have to find something I can show under saddle and in driving.

    Kudos to you Amanda!

  10. I am very excited to see your site. My daughter is 15 and heavy about 230 although I don't use the F word. We are in search of a new horse for her, she is learning the barrel and poles for a year now. Anyway, this friend of a friend said she had a horse that would be a good fit for my daughter and I do ask (is this horse stocky) because of her weight. So my daughter mounts this 15'3 stocky quarter horse. After 3 days of riding this wonderful horse and falling in love thinking this is the horse, it decides to rodeo buck her off. I am sure some of you know what it is like to be heavy and fall. Its not the same as the little 120 pound girls Not knowing alot about this horse I was not going to take a chance that this wasn't in the horse personality to do it again. I told the owner no, she was upset with us and told others that it was my daughters weight that made the horse buck. It is my belief that she is trying to save her own horse to make another sale on it by humiliating my daughter which infuriates me. We have always looked at quarter horses but now thinking maybe we should look at another bred of equine. Do you have any thoughts on a big stocky but fast enough to be a 3D or 2D barrel horse?

    1. you might think about an American warmblood: draft/TB cross...East Coast calls them Heavy Hunter types. No idea what they're called on west coast area....TB/Perch or TB/Belgin....met an Italian Belgin just north of Venice that looked like a TB/Belgin

  11. I am so happy to read this, so happy to have found your site. You and Bronwyn are both gorgeous and I'm jealous of the pictures (is your photographer willing to travel??)

    I just signed up for the forums (Thundergrrrl there) and I just wanted to post and say, "hells yeah!" to everything you wrote.

  12. I'm so glad I found this blog. I'm a fat girl who used to ride a long time ago and would love to ride soon in the future. Although I haven't found my perfect horse yet, I hope I come along my perfect partner but I used to get nervous about what people would think about me getting on a horse, even a draft. Thanks for all the encouragement with your postings.

  13. Thank you so much for your blog, its a inspiration to me. I am a 44 yr old woman that has never ridden a horse and at 260 pounds I am just afraid to try. All the usual thoughts "I am too fat, I'll break the horse" "what if I fall off and being fat I'll hurt myself really bad". I am now in the search of a horse that would be a good fit for me. It just seems that being a 45 yr old, beginner rider at 260 pounds limits my choices to almost none. But I won't stop looking and even learned to bypass the hateful e-mails about my weight and that I should not put a horse through that ordeal. And yes, I am planning on loosing weight as I have a goal. Thank you so much for being an inspiration ♥

  14. reply to Anonymous:
    You go girl, just because we are older and over weight...I'm 42...ok closer to 43 and weighed in this morning at 248lbs...but was 263 just a few months ago and was riding at that weight...and have ridden when I was much larger than that. Don't let the nay sayers stop you. You can do anything that you set your mind to. You may have to look hard to find just the right instructor and may have to work on you conditioning. We can do what the skinny chicks can do, we just may have to try harder or work smarter. Know that there are more of us "fat chicks" out there and we will not let our size stop us from doing what we want. My prayers are with you. Renee

  15. Oh, this is so great for me to read!! I love, love, love horses and want to get better at riding but I was always afraid about my weight. I have been learning to ride off and on for about 10 years (I'm not as good as you might think) but I'm still learning since I don't own a horse and I'm not always able to ride (besides, sometimes I'm just too nervous to do so). However, I ENJOY riding so much and love being around horses. But, there is this thing that's been making me feel bad every time I go riding. It seems like I've never in my life been able to get on a horse BY MYSELF! It's quite embarrassing. So, do you think the problem is in the lack of strength or my weight or what?! I would love to be able to get on a horse by myself...

  16. Finding this blog was exactly what I needed. I just had my first lesson last weekend after not riding for 15 years. I have always been a fat girl and always been in to horses but due to work and the fact that I once tipped the scales at 360lbs, gave it away. I missed it every single day but felt like I was in a place where physically it wasn't an option anymore. I've lost almost 150lbs and finally got myself back in the saddle. I must say, it was like coming home. The smell of the horse and the tack and finally the feeling of sitting tall on that horse's back after so long literally made me want to cry. I was an unknown quantity to my new (and plus sized herself) instructor but after 5 mins of her instructing me, she told me she could tell I knew how to ride purely by my seat and that it was just like riding a bike. Although the shift in weight changes and your balance point might, you never really forget how to ride. I feel like my world has opened up dramatically and this is a new beginning for me. Also, due to my housing circumstances, I am at a place where I can finally fullfill my childhood dream by having my first horse very soon, at age 36. Thanks so much for your blog. I feel so............accepted. This is just the beginning. Again :)

  17. Wow, I just want to thank you because you have truly inspired me and given me courage. I have been a heavy girl since I was in middle school (it turns out I have hypothyroid disorder) and I have loved horses even longer. I took lessons about 2 years ago but the instructor broke my confidence by all but calling me fat to my face. Since moving 3,000 miles away I've been considering lessons again, but I've just been too embarrassed to show up, thinking I will be laughed out of the barn. You have given me the courage to go, thank you.

  18. As all of the others here have said, thanks for writing this blog. I was skinny all of my life up until 7 or so years ago and I never really rode horses seriously, but always wanted to. Now that I am 43, I decided that I wanted to take lessons and ride on a regular basis. However, I am now 230 (at 5'9"). I have already lost 80 lbs. and I will reach my goal!. I did not want to wait one day more to ride, so instead of telling myself that I had to reach my goal weight before riding, I started right away and love it. I found a wonderful, accepting trainer after reading the weight restrictions (max 200 lbs.) at the local equestrian center. Even though some of us may be over weight, it is important to persue our dreams NOW - don't wait!

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  20. I am so glad I found this blog!

  21. I just started reading your blog Amanda, and think it's wonderful. The only thing that gets to me (I've been coming across a couple of blogs by heavier riders), is this notion that "Skinny Leggy Girls" are the ideal rider and that they're all standing around with their noses in the air!

    I'm 5'9" and can BARELY keep on 130 lbs. I'm not bragging here; it's not the roses and sugar plums you imagine. My butt aches when I ride b/c I've no padding...ditto when I fall off. I FREEZE in the dead of winter (I'm in Canada where -40 is NORMAL), and I look like a freak on ponies (I LOVE riding true ponies!) as my legs drag on the ground (wish I was 5'2' like some of those other riders!). Oh, and instructors often yell : "You've got long legs, USE THEM!", as though their length dictates some sort of natural talent (it doesn't). I also get teased A LOT about being a twig or 'lurch'.

    Where was I going with my self-deprication? Oh yes...

    I wanted to let you know (and all the other "Fat Girls" out there), that I've NEVER believed weight or height has anything to do with one's ability to ride. Horses can handle the weight of ANY human, and the bond is something that everyone should enjoy. I don't see weight when I see riding competitors...I see competition! So here's one skinny girl saying "Mhmm, You go girls!".

  22. This is a phenomenal blog! I'm sure you will and have helped so many people with your words of wisdom!

  23. Hey,

    I added you to my blog roll up. Blogs at least are a decent way to catch up with whats been going on in your life.

  24. Just found you! I'm fatgrrlrides (bikes that is) but.... yay for fatties doing awesome things. I'll be adding you to my blog roll soon!

  25. I just found your blog via Google and let me tell you it is exactly what I need right now! I weigh about the same as you and have ridden my whole life. Im 23 years old and after getting married and taking a year of from riding. I am trying to get back in the saddle. Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Finally rememebred to start reading this, LOVE your first post! Eloquent and really well written! You have such an inspiring way with words!
    Looking forward to catching up on the two years worth of posting I've missed out on so far!
    Have added you to my blogs so from now on all updates will bre read ASAP, :D
    PS: You know i think B is fantabulousa right?!

  27. This blog should be required reading for all girls! Pony Club and 4H! Too many of us have given up our love of riding and all the benefits it affords us because we let our weight dictate our lives. Thank you so much for providing a forum for us to celebrate our ability to do what we love regardless of what "the number" says.

  28. Hmmm... now we need to have a kiosk at the horse expos as they come to each city... and a rockin' brand of jeans and tees all our own.

    This seems like the beginning of a wonderful thing!

  29. Hi Amanda. I'm a fat girl who just started riding again. After one month of lessons, I rode in my first open horse show (western), and I placed in two out of four classes! It was amazing!

    My partner in crime was a horse I was leasing... a 14hh, 28yr old Arabian mare. I wasn't certain I should be riding her at first, but her owner assured me that she would be fine. My partner in crime now is a 16.2hh, 13yr old big, stout QH gelding. I also own a 15hh, 14yr old QH mare, but she has some lameness issues that we are dealing with now, and I don't believe it will be fair for me to ask her to ever carry my weight. She may end up being a lesson horse where I board, or a lease horse for a child.

    I find your blog encouraging, inspiring, emotional, incredible. I'm so glad I found it. Keep sharing, Amanda. You have a gift, and we are so blessed that you are willing to share it with us.

  30. I've been on a horse once in my life, about ten-ish years ago. I would love to do some riding but everywhere I try to go says there is a weight limit for the rider :( I would love to find a place where I could learn to ride. Any suggestions of how to look? I'm in Vermont most of the time.

  31. I can't begin to say how pleased I am to come across this blog. I have not read all the entries but those I have mirror many of my own thoughts desires fears and accomplishments. I am a fifty four year old woman who started riding when I was fifty. I weigh in at 270 pounds. If I fall I get hurt....bad. I have broken ribs, frozen my shoulder and hurt my hipriding and it has all been worth it.
    What I have learned is take your time finding the right horse. You do not have to ride a draft horse if your heavy set. The general rule of thumb is a horse can comfortably carry about one third of their own weight so a 1200 pound horse could carry some one weighing 300 pounds easily. Many quarter horse weigh in about that at 15 to 16 hands. Take your time, have fun walking talking and bonding with your horse. When I watch someone riding their horse their size is not what I am looking at. I am watching their face to see if their having fun, I am watching how the horse responds to them and how they communicate to each other. To me watching a horse and rider that communicate and enjoy each other is one of the most beautiful things in the world, hair color, eye color, size and clothing is of little or no importance to me.
    I will say that one of the most frustrating things I have found is the lack of clothing for us girls. I have a typical apple shape and nothing that I have found has come even close to my size. I find most "extra large" or plus size is about a size 12 in American clothing. I end up making most of my own stuff. Any tips on this issue would be great.

    Thanks again for the blog I will be a regular on here

  32. I've loved horses all my life but never ridden. Now in my 40s and "plus sized" I have all but given up the dream. I have a 15 year old daughter for whom I have now aquired 2 horses. I spend hours and hours at our barn grooming and attending lessons, clincs, and shows and watch longingly and lovingly as she rides. I have wonderfully supportive people in my life who tell me "you can". I just found your blog and have been purusing. I find my self with just the smallest spark of hope among a miriad of fears thinking...maybe I can?

  33. I found this blog by a picture of Bettina on Google, and I love it. I'm not a plus-sized rider but I like reading this blog anyway just for fun and for a wee bit of motivation. I've been riding for seven years, starting from when I was five. I still ride and I'm working on improving.

  34. Wow, i just found this blog whilst i was youtube surfing.... :) to be honest when i read your description i was like thats is me, i'm about 5'11, i have huge hands and my hoofs are a size 12 and at current i'm about 265lbs :O i've been riding since i was 5 and have never stopped :) my trusty steed is such a gem :)i think that this blog is totally amazing and it is brilliant that you have done this :) very inspirational.

  35. Hi there everyone... I have spent this evening reading the replies to Amanda's blog and had to share with everyone. In 2008 I lost my beautiful mare who had carried me for 14 years at different weights. weights from 325 to 425 pounds. She was a morgan/saddlebred and what a tank she was. Strong bones and big feet. She was 16.2 and had size 3 shoes. I was afraid I was way too heavey to ride her in the beginning. My blacksmith ( he is a sweety) answered me this way when I asked him if I was too heavy to get on her? If you can get up there, she will carry you, be carefull. That I was for sure. As a kid I rode bareback for years. I was not a thin kid either. Just below 400 lbs I got on her. In 9 months I lost 78 pounds. I would rather ride than over eat. Well, the years went bye and my weight decreased and increased we continued to ride for hours at a time. In April of 2006 after a 3 hour ride with my daughter I was hit by another car and it put an end to my riding. My daughter would ride her on weekends until I could ride again. Those were the longest 2 years of my life. She passed away at 32 years old. I never got back on her. My heart was broken and I was so sad/depressed. Out of my sadness I still wanted a horse to love and care for. At that time I had got to know a girl that let me know there was a horse at a stable we both knew of. A horse that was suppose to be mine was there, she knew this from messages from the beyound. I am not getting into how she knew, but she was right.At this time my weight had sored to 425 again. This horse was nothing like my old girl. Although he was strong and very gentle. He was a barbant draft. Well the love affair was started again. I have had him 3 years and have monted him only twice. I have been afraid of trusting another horse. My Nirvana had keept me safe and we were bonded. Well the time has come for me to step from the 3 step mounting block on to his back and begin the ride together. My daughter has been riding him to prepare him for me. He always watches me and must think why don't I ride? He gives me the eye with such softness. In May I will begin my slow process of learning to ride him. By the way his name is Nevaeh, heaven backwards...The whole weight thing does have its restraints. Wish me sucess, I have been waiting. Will up date in future. Hope I didn't ramble too much...

  36. Just found this blog. I am very much looking forward to reading through it. It is bookmarked on my iPad. :) You are very inspirational.

  37. Just found your blog. I will now be searching it to find out where you shop for size 12 boots, as I am in dire need of a pair! Thanks for writing this. Can't wait to read through all the posts!

  38. Hi everyone. I am so glad to find not only Amanda but the rest of you "fat girls" too ! I am a big girl too and I am glad to find you because I have just purchased my first horse ever ! I rode a bit as a kid with a relative but other than that ...nothing. Having my own horse is on the top of my bucket list and now I have her but I have been paralized with fear of riding her.
    Like Amanda I found a gangly palomino (also a life long wish) (and also named Sugar ) that I have come to find out was abused. When my husband saw her he asked me if I had to pick the ugliest horse on the farm. I said she spoke to me, something about her just spoke to me. She had just weened a young one and her bones protruded all over the place. But there was something about her eyes that just pleaded with me. I paid for her outright so my husband could'nt change "my" mind.
    Have come to find out that she was tied to the back of an old truck in a field. She was so covered in clay when my trainer bought her he didn't know she was a palomino ! She was drinking from mud puddles and every nite the owners would throw food scraps from dinner in the back of the truck for her. She was tied there for at least a year. Needless to say she has an aversion for being tied. We are making great strides in that area now and she is fine when not tied.
    I was fortunate to find a trainer that would let me take the journey with Sugar ( now named Glory).
    I am there every other day and he works with her as well as with me. I found that I needed that. Boy did I need that. I had no business taking her home without his guidance as I knew alot less than I had thought.
    Two weeks ago was the first time she was under saddle in two years. She bucked a few times and then started to walk but she just didn't seem to be comfortable. Two days latter we saddled her again and she acted the same way. The trainer took the saddle off to see if there was something jabbing her and he notice a milk vein running down her side. Yes my mare is pregnant and I haven't even gotten to ride her ! She was so under weight that when she started putting on weight so fast we were thrilled. I was so upset that day as I was sooo ready for her to be broke and to be able to finally take her home and ride her. The saddle is uncomfortable for her so I won't force her now. The vet says she's due in 30 days ! So now I will have to wait until she is ready again but this time around she won't be abused and skinny because I'm going to treat her like a queen. We've bonded to the point that she follows me around like a puppy and no matter where I am she has an eye on me.
    I am fifty two years old and experiancing my first love....horses. I have doubts every day thinking that I may have waited to late in life for this. I worry that I won't be able to get up on her now with bad knees and this extra weight . So seeing this blog and all the comments from women that are not so skinny anymore really makes my heart soar. I have learned to slow down and to realize that I do have limitations now but maybe not always as I get into to shape through riding.
    I'm going to check back time and again on this blog because it has given me the courage to continue my journey even in the face of so much doubt on my part.
    In a couple of months when she is finally broke and I find the guts to get on her I will write back and tell you the rest of the story. Until then happy trails to you all and thank you for taking the time to write about your own experiances, there are many of us out there that need to hear your stories because they give us the nudge we need to believe in ourselves.

  39. Hello everyone, my name is Donna and I used to be a professional equestrian showing in the AQHA and the PHBA all over the US. I have never been a "small" person, and after a really nasty divorce several years ago my weight ballooned to 380 and I stopped riding. I didn't ride for 8 years and I focused on raising my daughter and helping her show, but the whole time I have been dying inside everyday. although I lover watching my daughter I also want to show and it still hurt very much to watch everyone show and know that I couldn't participate because of my weight, and I spent several years crying myself to sleep over it. This year I decided that I was going to ride one way or another so I leased a wonderful Percheron gelding and I rode for the first time in 8 eight years, and it was amazing. We went trail riding several times, and even went to the forestry for a ride. I was finally able to ride with my daughter instead of just watching her, and it made us both very happy. I am now determined to lose as much weight as possible, (I know I will never be a "skinny" girl), and start showing again. Thank you for your blog, it is great, and thanks for allowing me to share my story.