Mindful practice, in its purest sense, is simply this: be aware of what is, what is here in the moment.
-Charles T. Tart in Living the Mindful Life
I think the singlemost important thing about being a plus sized rider is awareness. There are ways to make it all happen, but you would be doing an injustice to your horse if you weren't completely aware of what you're doing and doing it in a way that causes the least harm to your mount.
For all you re-riders out there: this doesn't mean that just because you can't do X right away, you are allowing your weight and the circumstances it presents to defeat you - because you're still riding, right? It just means that until you get yourself into shape, there are some things that you will be limited in - and that's perfectly okay, too.
Of course this begins with choosing the right horse, as I mentioned in Fat Rider Myth #1: Fat People Should Only Ride Drafts (Or: Choosing A Suitable Mount). Yes, you can ride - but as I mentioned in my introductory entry, sometimes the horse you have in your barn right now isn't necessarily the right horse for you to get back into riding on.
I'll tell you about some of my further limitations that I think others will find, too, as they either get back into the world of horseback riding, or advance farther than just a ten minute walk around the yard on their horse:
-----> I always mount up with a mounting block (okay, okay, it's an overturned bucket, but that's nice because then I can go along with Bronwyn when she's not standing perfectly still). I don't think it is a sign of weakness or anything else. There are a lot of skinny* riders that can't spring up into the saddle without pulling on their horse's withers. I know that right now, I can't spring up into the saddle so there is no shame in the mounting block. It saves my horse's back and it gives me a leg up (ha ha!).
-----> Another thing I already mentioned briefly is the length of time you can ride for. I don't care if you are a plus sized rider or a "skinny" sized rider, when you start riding again for the first time, or even for the first few months, you will be hard pressed to ride for long periods of time. I rode my entire life before Angel died. When she died, I lost about a year, give or take, of riding - when I first started back again, fifteen minutes just about killed me. If I go a few weeks without riding now, long periods of riding are difficult for me, which is why I try to be on a horse's back at least two or three times a week (work and weather seems to be getting in the way an awful lot lately!). No, you won't be able to ride an endurance ride or a jumper's course when you first start back until you start to work some of those "riding" muscles and start to get in shape for riding. Don't be discouraged!
-----> As a plus sized rider, I recognize there are some horses I can't ride. I can't ride ponies, for example, or fine boned horses. I wouldn't be terribly tempted to mount up on most of the arabs that I have seen. That doesn't mean there isn't an arabian out there that I could ride, but it means that I recognize that for the well-being of the horses I know, I don't ride them. I do think it's silly to go to a boarding barn or a lesson barn and they say "THIS is the only horse you can ride!" and bring you out a draft/draft cross/light draft breed, but I digress.
This doesn't mean you wallow in things like "I can't mount up like "regular" people...", "I can't ride any horse I want.", "I can't ride a three hour trail ride with my friends..." and let it consume you. Sure you can't right now, but if you're riding again, imagine what an accomplishment it is just to be back on a horse! Something that completely thrilled me was when I was able to do a posting trot for more than 30 seconds at a time without becoming exhausted. I couldn't probably show an english pleasure class right now for being out of shape, but I can hold a mean posting trot for quite a while! Another thing that really thrilled me was not being so exhausted after a 40 minute ride that I could still do things without taking a nap or a rest - heck, I could even go to work (I work as a waitress in a fairly labor intensive restaurant)!
So there are some things you can't do right now. Who cares? What you're doing is more than you have done in the past, right? And as you grow in your confidence, your body tones itself, and you and your horse become better partners, there will be more and more doors opening to you and things you can do that you never imagined before - I never imagined being able to ride bareback at night - heck, I never imagined being able to mount up on a horse bareback without a hefty shove to my bottom from an innocent bystander (!!) - and look what I've been able to do. Don't let your limitations right now discourage you - at the same time, don't blindly imagine you have no limitations at all - that is a setup for failure - and I want you to succeed.
*Please note the use of the word "skinny" in the same vein as the use of the word fat. If you don't understand this, please read "Fat" or Fiction?. It is in no way meant to be used as a derogatory term (I am aware that there are those out there who find it to be as offensive as the word "fat" is to some), but a descriptive word.