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!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mad At You

Tonight, instead of riding, I did something I had been putting off for a long time because I have not been fit enough or had enough ambition.

Bronwyn is relatively good for mounting up, for the most part. Quite regularly, since I mount up from a mounting block (read: overturned bucket), I will stand on the bucket with my reins gathered up, collecting myself to put a foot in the stirrup, and while I do this, Bronwyn fidgets a step back. Usually, I hop down off the bucket and back her up several steps, then bring her back to the bucket.

This evening, I decided I wanted to go for a ride - bareback, thanks to My3Arabs and Scooter - but I couldn't find a place to mount up that was suitable. Nix that, I could find places that worked but she jigged a little every time I tried to crawl up her side. I got more and more frustrated (she also doesn't completely understand the idea of being led by the reins) until I was so angry, I was going to go into the barn, put her saddle on and ride her until she was exhausted.

Fortunately, I was too exhausted for that.

Sometimes, I think, when you're putting training on a horse and you don't do it for a profession and your horse represents a lot of things, least of which is the freedom to break stereotypes and do things that people have told you that you couldn't, it is hard to not take it too personally when your horse does something that is just stupid. Bronwyn was being pretty stupid. The long walk in the mucky cold back to the barn seemed to simmer me down a little bit.

I knew I couldn't really put work on her in the mood I was in, though. My parents taught me to be a considerate and conscious horse person and I know as well as anyone that you can't take anger, anxiety or aggression into the saddle with you, least of all on a green horse.

I did saddle her up, took her back up and worked her on the longeline. Then, I turned my bucket over beside her and spent a lot of time just standing on it (funny enough, she has no problem standing still if I am mounting from the ground and someone is holding the stirrup on the other side), praising her. I then mounted and dismounted four or five times - sat on her, never walked off a step, just mounted and dismounted.

I have always told myself "when I am more fit and can do it more easily" that I would do this from the ground, from both sides, until she got so tired of it that she was sleeping when I mounted up, but I finally found the ambition (or adrenaline via being angry?), and am glad I did it. By the end of it, I was even putting my foot in the stirrup on the OTHER side and she was standing still and behaving really well. So, I didn't ride, but I got my point across without harming our relationship, and I'm proud of that.

THAT'S a problem that plus sized riders and "skinny" riders alike, face! Sometimes, I think it would be nice to be detached enough from your horse emotionally that you could not get a little butthurt when they start acting foolish, but then I remember how nice it is to have such a connection with your horse - to remember what they have come through from the beginning and to be proud of what they have accomplished, even if it is as little as standing still while being mounted.

I could have done a lot of damage if I had gone through with my original plan to work the bajeesus out of her. I guess this is just a little PSA.

And also - I happened to be in the right place at the right time today and nabbed a work harness for Bronwyn at a livestock auction today for $50. It has been well used, but also cared for quite well, just missing a piece or two. We tried it on my three year old percheron cross filly tonight, and will likely try it on Bronwyn tomorrow in the daylight. I will grab a picture of THAT!

Coming SOON: "Support, Support, Support: Coaches, Family & The Perfect Bra"


  1. Must've been groundwork day everywhere! I went out to the barn after work to ride and decided instead to work on some basics with Rosie/Mocha/TheHorseWithNoName on the leadrope and also start to address her bad habit of pawing in the cross-ties.

    Spent most of the evening with her cross-tied, pawing her little heart out for attention and ignoring her. Whenever she stood still, without pawing I'd walk over and start brushing, patting or otherwise lavishing attention upon her... til she began to paw. Then I'd walk away and ignore her again. After about an hour you could hear the gears grinding in her brain as she started to understand what was going on. Eventually she was standing nicely, looking at me with a "See, I'm being good, now come back and love on me!" look on her face and she'd only lift a foot, hesitate then set it down gently as she felt me shift away from her a bit.

    Small steps, little successes but it's all a great learning experience for us all!

  2. Kudos on knowing your limitations that night and finding something else to work on that would be a step forward for both of you. A lot of people get too stubborn to win and would rather take the step back than find something positive to work with. We and our horses have off-days, we just need to recognize those days and do something else when they surface :)

    I'd also like to comment on your blog in general. I'm very happy to see that you are out there writing this blog. With the amount of negative publicity given to weight from the media, and by weight I mean anything above anorexic, it's nice to see that some people can keep a good head on their shoulders.

    As for riding, a skinny rider with a crappy seat can do more damage than a heavy rider with a lighter seat, it's just about learning to balance and using that weight effectively. So it's nice to see those who don't let the sneers of the little barn princesses who are lucky if they register on the scale at all, deter them from enjoying horses. Horses are beautiful creatures who can bring out beautiful things in all of us.

    You and Bronwyn obviously share something very special, and you're courage and determination will inspire others who may be sitting thinking "maybe I'm too heavy to ride". If you take reasonable steps, setting reasonable goals, there's no end to what you can achieve :)

  3. I had the same problem with my mare for a long time too! She always walked off as I was mounting, or just before I started--I used to do what you did, and back her up, step her back forward, and start over again. Though Bronwyn doesn't sound like the same "type" of horse (Peppy's pretty hot with a lot of "go") what I found more worthwhile was standing quietly next to her until she settled down. Even if she was darting forward, sidestepping, backing up, I just stood there, exhaled loudly, acted like I had all day, and waited. Eventually she figured it out and now I can get on her from the ground and she will wait until I give her the cue to go forward.

    Just putting another bug in your ear for a different tactic to try. It also removes the temptation to back them up aggressively, even if you mentally don't mean it but emotionally can't help it.

    The best thing I've learned: "With horses: act like you've got five minutes and it takes all day. Act like you've got all day and it takes five minutes."

  4. wallflower - I think Bronwyn might be intimidated by me standing in a position of much height over her. She doesn't mind me once I am on her back and she stands still for me to mount from the ground, but she doesn't like me standing up there on the bucket.

    I did a lot of just standing up there, patting her and telling her what a good girl she was for standing there. She figured it out... she is not bad about taking off before I am sitting and ready. We do a lot of standing around while I am mounted up - patience is the very, very most important thing for her. :)

    And I love that little saying... think it's very true!

  5. I was going to say that I bet Bronwyn is a bit intimidate by you being "over" her. I am lucky that Scooter doesn't feel that, he is too tall for that. But he does like to not stand still for mounting once in a while.

    He is finally setteling down and standing still more often than not. For me it is a bit scary because I use the tailgate of my pickup to get on his tall self. I have a fear that he will get hurt on the edges of it. Hopefully I can convince hubby to build me a nice mounting platform, lol.

  6. Good job for not giving up! I had the same problems as my first horse, Laz, is an OTTB (off the race track TB) and would starting trotting/jigging off when I tried to mount. It took a looooong time to get him to stand still and I'm NO professional (not even close actually) but I hold the outside rein tighter and inside rein is loose, when mounting. It kept him from backing up or moving forward..dont know why, it just worked. I also worked on 'emergency dismounts' so he learned to stop and not freak out if I lost my balance,etc. That also helped with him standing still as I mounted. :)
    I am a huge fan of mounting blocks (buckets, tree stumps, whatever) for saving their backs.