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!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Recognizing Your Limitations Without Letting Them Defeat You

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.


  1. I've read that Arabians can actually carry more weight, because their backs are shorter. Most actually have one less lumbar vertebre and one less thoracic vertebre than other breeds. I've heard they can carry up to 30% of their weight, although it would depend on the individual horse.

  2. NewHorseMommy, My main riding horse for 23 yrs was a half Arab mare. She carted me up and down mountains when I was 135lbs and 300+lbs. She never ever had a sore back.

  3. I forgot to add that I have to use mounting steps and the tailgate of my pickup. Scooter is 18 hands and still growing and even if I was skinny I couldn't get up on him without pulling his back out.

    Here is a photo of my mounting system, lol.

  4. Very good point, NewHorseMommy & My3Arabs, and I agree. Backs are probably fine, but I see a lot of very ... how shall we put this? "Dainty" arabians in this neck of the woods. The bone and feet concern me, so I would not choose them as my primary mount.

    I did, however, have the pleasure of riding a positively delightful Arabian/Shire cross mare when I started taking lessons before I started Bronwyn under saddle and she was a fantastic little mare!

  5. Most arabians look to small to me as well. I like thick legs on a horse.

    I learned to mount from the ground, so I can do it if I have to, but it's not graceful, and I always use a mounting block now.

    Does anyone else have problems dismounting? I cannot dismount without my left foot still in the stirrup. I know it's safer to kick both feet free, but I could never get the hang of it, so I gave up.

    Everytime I try to dismount with both feet out, I drag the saddle halfway off with me, catch my clothing on the horn (I caught my bra on it one day flashing the whole barn), and I actually tore a chunk of mane out of a lesson horse once. I don't know why I can't get the hang of it, but it's a lot less traumatic for me and the horse to keep one foot in the stirrup. I find it very hard to swing my right leg over without the leverage of the stirrup.

    Luckily, I am very tall, 5'11, and my horse is only 15.2, so it's easy to get off quick even with my foot in the stirrup. I do wonder what will happen if I ever need to get off in an emergency though...

    Any suggestions?

    1. I have a hard time dismounting as well, I always used to take both feet out of the stirrups and just swing down. Well no more; I have fallen and looked totally ridiculous twice, haven't been back on him since. Plus sized and more depressed.

  6. Love your blog. At only 5", I'm a very square shaped rider, and the shortness makes riding even more difficult. I'd love to see an entry related to riding clothes for fat riders. :)

  7. Very nice blog. I look forward to reading more as I have the time and posting often

  8. Thanks for these inspiring words. I left my lovely boy at home this afternoon when I went to watch a lovely little show. I could have hacked there and joined in with the fun and games. I haven't ridden my boy for a few weeks now as I feel too heavy for him. He's an Irish draught and is fit and healthy so I need a kick up the backside to get back on and start enjoying him again. Anyone want to give me a kick?????

  9. Amanda i am impressed. Are u on fscebook. I wanna add u there.

  10. Yes, you can find the fanpage on Facebook and you can also add me personally - seeking(dot)sendiri@gmail.com. :)

  11. Great blog! I enjoy reading your posts and comments from others.
    And for Jenni who posted above--consider yourself kicked :-) I didn't ride for nearly a year and recently started back up. My gelding APHA Sampson was eager to be ridden again! Then right after we started again both my horses got sick with (??) so we didn't ride for almost another month and a half while they recuperated...then the HEATWAVE sat in...
    Yesterday I rode my ApHC Tipper--he is about 7 and was the sickest--who had been started several years ago and then left to pasture before I got him 8 months ago. Well yesterday was the FIRST time I rode him and he was great!
    So ride when you can, for however long you can, and as safely as you can...no matter what SIZE you are :-) I'm larger and will NOT give up riding!! Blessings to all.

  12. Jessica who loves her "Shadow"August 24, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    Hello all!!
    I am a "fluffy girl". lol I'm 5'3 and 260 lbs.
    I am a proud new owner of "Shadow," a 15 hands, black TWH.
    I was thrilled when I came across this site because I too have had the
    nerves of being fat, using a bucket to mount, and not wanting to hurt my beautiful new friend.
    Good job with this site and keep up the good work!
    I will for sure be back!!

  13. I had a humiliating experience yesterday trying to mount an extrememly tall horse, and even on the three step block could not pull up with my short round arms and Mr. Potato Head legs. It's eaten at me all day. But this wonderful site has let me let it go; I'll stick to my short stocky app, whom I love dearly anyway. I have felt alone in this journey of living my dream, surrounded by thinner folk- but no more!

    1. Oh no- I had the same experience yesterday! I only got my right leg to his mid rump, my boobs and midriff into the seat, and he started to wwalk. I finally had to drop down, while he backed 4 steps with horror in his eyes. I have short round arms and Mr. Potatoe Head legs too, and a short stocky app. I just laughted and let it go; a year ago I would have been in tears. Just ask for help if need be, and enjoy your horse. I want jeans that fit and some neat tees for large folks!

  14. I bought a Rubbermaid 2 step stepstool at either Lowes or Home Depot for under $30. Instead of being in the house, it makes an amazing mounting block for me. Plus it folds up so its easy to take anywhere I want to ride. It is white but my horse has no issues with it.