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!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Photographic Debunking of Myth #1

***Scroll down, I've added more!***

I got a couple of really swift responses from people who are not riding draft horses, and wanted to share!

The first email I got was from Maria:

The horse I've been riding (and hope to purchase in 2010!!) is about 15'1, French Canadian, built like a...well..horse, lol! Big boned, very overweight himself (if I do get him, we're going on the same mission and you and Miss B!), but perfect for me in every single way. I have no idea how much he weighs.

I was told at my barn I can never ride any horse but him (A Fat Girl In: I suspect she could ride whatever she wanted, but sometimes we just have to work around the stereotypes and ideas that people get in their heads.)--and had no problem with that!!! We've even jumped 3"-something I was told neither of us could ever do :) (A Fat Girl In AGAIN: This is the stuff I love to hear!)
I do ride a daintier QHx sometimes, who also doesn't have any problems with me, but still he is my love!

I am pretty sure the expression on her face says it all!

For those who don't know, French Canadians are a delightful breed of "light draft", which I think are pretty much the bee's knees. After I lost Angel, my first ride back was on a friend's beautiful, talented four year old French Canadian mare that I completely fell in love with - too bad her family is completely in love with her, too! If ever a horse had a forever home, I imagine that one has it!

I also got an email from Kate, who has just recently started her new partnership with Rosie (though her Flickr account tells me that it won't be "Rosie" for much longer, any name ideas?):

Here's a link to pics of my new horse and me... I weigh about 215lbs, and am 5ft 3in tall. Rosie (soon to be either Mocha or Cocoa!) is about 15.1 hands, and I have no idea how much she weighs. I tried a weight tape, which said 1235lbs, but I know those are less than accurate! She's a registered TWH, not a lick of draft in her!

Again, another situation where I think the smile more than says it all! What a great looking partnership that looks like it is going to be! And psst, you can see her whole Flickr series of Rosie here!

Talk about high wattage happiness here! LaVada sent me some pictures and a really touching email about her and her mare, Kahlua. My favourite part? Her email subject was "I've never even ridden a draft! :)"

I've always ridden my family's stocky Quarter Horses and my family just isn't build to be tiny. Our horses are working horses in the summer and trail partners in the spring and fall. My aunt weighs in at 250 and her working mare has NEVER had a problem doing work all day or hitting the trails. The family horses are always excited to work and we make sure saddles fit and take note if the horses ever seem sore, which is very rare and usually only relates to a stone bruise. My aunt has been working on her weight for years, but seems stuck between 225 and 250. She's come to the conclusion that if her horse is not bothered by it, she won't let herself be bothered by it anymore. (A Fat Girl In: Hard for some of us to come to terms with, I know! Before I let myself enjoy riding Angel, I worried incessantly about it...)

I had never even THOUGHT of heavier riders needing to ride heavier horses until I was interested in taking formal lessons. I took my first lessons on an Appendix Quarter Horse mare and was told I rode very well for a "heavy girl". What kind of bass-ackwards compliment was that? The following year I moved to another barn to take lessons. They perched me up on a Friesian stallion and when I asked why (considering all the other horses were arabian and arabian crosses) I was told I was too heavy for the other horses. I weighed 180 lbs at the time.

I rode with that barn for a short while but when another girl who started at the same time as me went to her first show, I was told I wouldn't be able to go as the only horse I was allowed to ride was their stallion and there was a no-stallions policy at the showgrounds. I quit riding lessons shortly after that. I'd lost a lot of confidence in myself and my riding abilities then. (A Fat Girl In: What a shame - finding a supportive coach who is willing to talk about these things is so important, and being able to discuss your goals and plans and have them help you make them happen. That's the point of a coach, is it not? I'll discuss this more in an entry about support.)

I started riding the family's quarter horses again and gained some of that back. Last summer I was given a horse from an extended family member. She was an arab/QH cross and man was she a handful! I began working with her from the ground up and despite having worked with younger horses many times before, she tested me in every way. I happened upon a trainer who exchanged work for lessons and she built my confidence up, taught me to think different about horses, and helped me work with my mare.

After working with a horse with as much personality as Kahlua, I've had many chances to see just how strong this compact mare can be. This spring I finally began riding her around our riding yard. We started bareback as my trainer has had me ride bareback for the last year and I was most comfortable there.

These are photos from the first time Kahlua had anyone on her back off leadrope. We've had other people put rides on her so I could focus on working on resensitizing a mare I began riding last winter, but since then I've done slow rides around with Kahlua. The trainer who worked with me over the last year has never brought of weight as an issue. She has told me that if I need to tone up, I'll know because I will feel it everytime I'm sore from riding. My horse will let me know if I'm reaching a point where weight affects my ability to ride and "until then, just saddle up and giddy up!"

Haha I apologize for the riding posture itself if it seems a little wonky. This was her first time off leadrope and I was certain she was going to take off any second if I put my leg to her, but I've found that just doesn't seem to be in her plans anytime we've been riding. At that point she was more interested in backing up at 50mph if we put any rein on her (which also explains the "reins"). True, I was more perched on there and we encouraged her to just softly move forward around a pasture she was familiar with, but being able to ride my own mare for the first time was truly one of the happiest points in my life today. (A Fat Girl In: Isn't it really about making yourself happy? Of course we recognize our limitations but if we can be happy in the end...? And I would say, judging by these gorgeous pictures, that Kahlua is just about as happy as LaVada! Though I have to say, I am jealous about the Friesian stallion part!)

I'd love to add more pics and stories of non-drafts to this post, so if you're a plus sized rider out there riding a non-draft, let me know at seeking(dot)sendiri(at)gmail(dot)com! :)


  1. Love all the stories and pictures!

  2. I weigh about 240lbs and I left my barn of 5 years because my trainer told me I could ne'er ride a horse besides the Belgian mare she had. When se told me that, I was around 190 or so. Now I ride a 14.1hh fjord gelding. He broke his leg as a Colt and now has a permenent limp, but he's never had problems carrying me out on trails or doing dressage work in the arena. I also am schooling a draft cross for a theraputic place near my home. Sometimes I ride another pony there who is 14.2 or .3 and he's perfectly fne wit me. Im hope I can send some pictures over of my on the fjord I ride though :) I'm really happy to have found this blog!

  3. Oh and I'm really sorry about spelling errors. I'm sure I missed a few before I posted my last comment. :)

  4. I just found your blog and wanted to comment on the Arab myth... I weigh in at 191 right now (I've been as high as 198 and as low as 165) and I have a 14.1HH arab who I do ENDURANCE with. He travels for miles and miles on end with no issues and I see the same thing at every endurance ride. Arabs are built to carry weight... their heavy bone and compact shape allow them to pack us around with very little effort on their part. My heart horse will be 15 this year and still looks like a 5 year old.

  5. Every word you write in this blog is inspirational. Thank you
    G. David

  6. I'm around 75kg 5'4 and I break/train horses and ponies as half my living so I regularly ride 12.2's and such (stockier ones), I dont feel bad about it as it's short term, I have them under me for about 6 weeks and then they go to a kid who fits them. I think a lot of the time people take height into consideration too much, depends on a horses structure, larger riders should always go for horses with shorter backs and well developed top lines as it means their backs are better equipped for carrying more weight in the long term. I have turned down work in the past because I would feel bad putting my weight on a long backed youngster that is weak.
    I cant help but comparing it to the old coal men, it used to be a big thing in my area that a coal man drove round the rural areas delivering it, this involved a lot of heavy lifting and although they were able to carry the weight around easily enough it was once they hit their older age that the strain of years of heavy lifting became evident and I'd hate to be the cause of this on some pony , who could have had many more years of riding comfortably if it had had a lighter rider during it's life :/

    And I sympathise with riding schools in a way when they get larger students, studies have shown it's not what weight you are but how balanced you are in the saddle, and beginners are so wobbly and all over the place the pressure points put on the horses backs can be nasty. Plopping butts hitting the back of the saddle and digging in etc In this respect I would back centres who would only allow bigger riders to ride drafts who are more compact and can take bigger saddles, spreading the impact etc for the sake of the animals well being, at least until they are of a standard or riding where they are balanced enough to get more sporty model. Even private buyers should be aware of this when buying themselves horses, as we all want the best for our horses, and long pain free life is one of those wishes. I wont let my mum ride some of my horses because of her balance, and she's lighter than me.

  7. I am definitely a plus size rider as I wear anywhere from a 20 to a 24 on the bottom and weigh more than I care to say, but it is over 250. I do not ride a draft horse - I ride an old-type Morgan. He's about 15.1-15.2 and he has never had a problem carrying me. We've shown saddleseat and halter, we've been on 3-4 hour trail rides (up and over hills, not all on the flat), and now we're retraining for Western Pleasure as that's more what we're both built for.

    When I took up riding, I took lessons on another old-type Morgan and Saddlebreds - didn't have to be draft horses - they were quite large enough to carry me without a problem. You just have to go talk to trainers and find one that doesn't have a problem with working with older plus-sized riders. I wasn't riding the very young or the very old, of course, but horses in their early to mid-teens so they had their muscles built up and the strength to carry me.

    I have found that balance is everything and you have to have a really solid core so he doesn't have to adjust for your weight shifts. We were having a problem with him breaking out of the lope after a corner - he would either drastically speed up or break down to a trot. At the same time I was working out with a physical trainer at the gym who knew my goal was to ride my horse better and I noticed as my core got stronger, my horse broke less often. My riding instructor also noticed how well centered I now was and you know, we don't break after corners anymore! We're a team - I just had to step up a bit to meet my horse where he was. I'm not saying it was quick, but building your core with those horrible dreaded planks and crunches really do make a difference on how well your horse can carry you.