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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 10, 2009

Support, Support, Support: Family, Coaches & The Perfect Bra

I know I keep saying "X is the one of the most important things...", but I keep thinking about things that are important that I should write about! (Word to the wise: In the soon-ish future, you won't have to always read huge blocks of text from me - a vlog for some entries is in the works! In the meantime... read this:)

Support... Having people around you that encourage you and care about positive outcomes. I was extremely fortunate to have an immediate family that was horse crazy while I was growing up. The going joke is that they brought me home from the hospital and put me on a horse. Though that's not true, it is true that I rode before I walked, and I spent copious amounts of time on the back of a horse with my mother. I suppose you could say that horses have been ingrained in my essence. Of course, I did what most kids who grow up with horses in their family as a business do, and defected for about three years (13-16), but came back to it when I got my heart horse, Angel, at 16.

I'm not trying to brag about my accomplishments here, but I have ridden lots of green horses, I have started two from scratch (Angel and Bronwyn) and done all of the riding on them myself (under the guidance of my mother). Never in my life did my parents ever say "You're too big for that horse." or "Pfft! Aren't you a little... ahem... unfit to be riding?", or any of the other various hurtful and nasty things that some families, for some reason, seem to be inspired to say to one another when extra pounds are in the mix. In fact, my parents have encouraged me to ride horses that I felt that I was too big for, insisting that what I was doing wasn't going to hurt the horse. They have never encouraged me to do anything unrealistic and every time I have wanted to do something new that might not be in my repertoire, they have always done their best to help me make it happen.

If you have to explain how much it means to your family and friends to be able to ride, to make time for your horses, and the freedom you feel on horseback, do it. I think sometimes people don't understand the value of horses to people they care about. They think "Oh, it's just a passing fad...". The extra bonus is if you have family members nagging you about losing weight, you can tell them what a great workout horseback riding is and that if they are so concerned about your weight loss, they would pay half of your lessons to help you lose some! :)

After I lost my Angel and gained back many of the 40lbs I had lost while riding her while I refrained from riding for almost a year, I got Bronwyn. Since she was green and I knew I wanted to do the riding on her myself, I decided to prepare myself by taking lessons from a riding instructor I had known most of my life. My mother could have taught me but at the time all we had were green horses and I wanted the chance to sit on a plodder and figure out my balance, posture and position again so I would do more good than harm to Bronwyn.

I went to a great woman that I had ridden in clinics under before back when I used to show a lot. When I approached her about the lessons at first, I was hesitant, but I was honest. I told her what I weighed at the time (305), and told her I hoped she had a horse that I could use. She told me she did, and she wasn't concerned about my weight. I am thankful to this day that she made that opportunity for me because I don't know for certain if I would have ever gotten up the courage to get on Bronwyn's back if it hadn't been for her and the (few) lessons I took. So, for that - THANK YOU, CINDY!

It's daunting, especially if you don't have the benefit of an old friend who has known you practically your entire life, or have to go to a complete stranger to take lessons. The most important thing in selecting an instructor is finding one who will also recognize your limitations but not allow them to defeat you. They WILL find a horse that is a right match for you (frankly, I would want to fill my entire lesson barn with horses that are suitable matches for plus sized riders because they're also suitable matches for "average sized" riders, too!), they WILL tailor their lesson program to accommodate for any unfitness or other challenges you may have. They WILL sit down and talk to you seriously about your goals, understand them and encourage you. If your dream is to ride a dressage test, jump 2'6", or win a western pleasure class, they shouldn't laugh at you or even hesitate in encouraging you. If they do - leave and leave fast - those are not the type of horse people you want to associate with. It might take a few visits to a few barns and you might be a little embarrassed when you lay all your cards out on the table... but you know what? When you find the right coach... you'll know. And it will 100% improve the experience.

As for the bra... I can't give any advice. I hope someone in the comments can shed some light on an affordable bra that really holds you in. Unfortunately, I am "blessed" (cough) with very large breasts and I typically wear a regular support bra with a much-too-small sports bra over top. I end up with red lines all over me. I have heard good things about the ENell sports bra (the one Oprah endorsed, perhaps?), but am hesitant to spend that much money unless I know it's going to work!

Things You Should Comment On In The Comments!

What other things would you like to see us offer? Resources wise, entry wise, etc? (I am working on something to do with tack fit, and am toying with a plus sized clothing for riders option - would love some links for that if anyone has them!)

Found the perfect bra? Let me know!

Places I can list the blog in directories, etc, to promote it a little more.

Anyone interested in putting buttons on their website with a link to the blog?

While the blog in no way is a weight loss blog for plus sized riders, I am considering talking about my weight loss journey. Would anyone find this offensive or of poor taste for the "A Fat Girl..." blog? With that said - I am always going to be in the plus sized range no matter what I do - so don't worry about it taking away from the title!

Coming Soon!

I am putting together another awesome entry featuring the photos and stories of plus sized riders on NON DRAFT horses! If you are a plus sized rider riding a NON DRAFT, send me an email with photos and your story so I can post them up! :) seeking(dot)sendiri(at)gmail(dot)com.

A guest entry discussing the importance of good tack fit for your horse!

And before too long, a huge rant about how disgusting Canadian weather can be!

15 comments:

  1. I wouldn't mind the 'weight loss journey' entries. I know I myself get a little down and out when I have a friend who is going to start going to the gym four times a week or something, mainly because I'd LOVE to go..but I between work, school and the barn, I don't have time.

    And then come the suggestions to just skip the barn. Ahem.

    So to see it coming from someone else who has barn chores and is doing it for something other than "I want to fit into this green bathing suit by spring break" would really be fantastic.
    It'd be really awesome if you could find a way to measure your fitness/strength along the way.
    I see that as a lot more important, especially when you start to hit that plateau after losing the first round. Time you can run without feeling out of breath, weight you can lift, number of pushups, etc. Anything to measure your FITNESS would be more encouraging for your readers I think..(as well as yourself! I know sometimes when losing weight, the weight just STOPS losing lol...so you have to go to other things to measure progress).

    And as for the bra..I hate the feeling of boobies squished together in a sports bra. Haha. Maybe TMI but I HATE it. So I do a normal bra and then a well-fitted sports bra with very WIDE straps and at least four hooks on the back. Same idea as saddle fit to me..I want to spread the weight over as much space as I can. If I know I'm going to be doing some rough trail or even if I go jogging, I'll do the regular bra (with underwire of course), sports bra on snug like it should be, and another lesser quality sports bra on looser. I know I know..THREE BRAS...!!! But that third one just keeps them in place and keeps me from thinking about it as I jog around the field. It's more for me than for the boobies or the onlookers.

    I tried SEVERAL riding bras. And they were either too bulky, or they made my chest look like to pointy pyramids, or they squished "the girls" together too much. I want to find one that separates a bit instead of just cram packing it all in there. Ugh.

    I think it might be cool to do "reader interviews" or "guest blogs" every so often. Sort of like you have done with the entries about those of us NOT riding draft horses. I really like the aspect of having the blog be for a community and not just dictating to the crowd.

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  2. Lane Bryant has some awesome bras and I also ride with a regular bra and a sports bra. I am a 42ddd so I need all the help I can get. I was about one bounce away from resorting to duct tape when my also plus-sized sister took me to Lane Bryant. I am now comfortable with minimal bouncing.

    This is the first time I've read the blog and I think you're doing great! I am about 230lbs and really have always been heavy. I am also a horse trainer full-time so I ride between 6 and 11 horses per day in addition to doing all of the chores. I can practice barrel racing, jumping, or running full tilt with nothing but a bridle on. I encourage people to ride bareback as much as they can.

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  3. I have an Enell. It works, but the seams show through almost any shirt, and I feel like I can't breathe when I'm wearing it. It's also quite a struggle to put it on!

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  4. I wouldn't mind seeing the weight loss stuff in and amongst the other horse-y posts. In fact, I measured my mare's girth and my own waist/hips and plan to do so once a month. This way I can see how we are both getting in shape together! (Yes, she and I are both a little plus-sized!)

    I am tempted to try one of those extra expensive bras too, but like you I don't want to waste the money if it doesn't work/doesn't fit/is uncomfortable. Right now I just wear my regular daily bra, but I do ride a TWH so no bumpy trotting to bounce the "girls" around!

    (And yes, I would happily add a button/link to you on my blog!!!)

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  5. I like my Enell (and I don't have any problems breathing when wearing it but then I spend the weekends of at least three months a year in a bodice for Renn Faire so...) but I've taken to wearing a "regular" bra (second the ones you can get at Lane Bryant! I've had much better luck with them than the expensive "custom fitted" one I got from a lingerie shop) under it.

    I don't particularly care for the uni-boob look either, but I think until someone comes up with a sports bra that also lifts and separates, (it's a running gag at my barn that we should formlate a riding sports bra like that) we're just going to have to deal.

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  6. Hi - I am a new reader to your blog and I really enjoy it. I am looking forward to reading some of the other things you have written as well.

    I have found that my biggest hurdle to really becoming a great rider and getting the most out of my lessons is that I worry too much about how people perceive me as a heavier rider.

    Fortunately in the last year I have been able to surround myself with people and a trainer who believe that I can "ride the wind" whether or not I really can. It has made all of the difference in the world. next year I will be riding an Arabian for some people in a couple class 'A' shows. This is something that is a childhood dream that wouldn't have happened without the support of my friends.

    Keep up the good work - I'll be linking to you!

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  7. Char - that is EXACTLY what I am talking about - having people around you who believe you can succeed and will help you get there, regardless of any additional hurdles you might face!

    Thanks for the link!

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  8. Enell- made all the difference in the world for me. Yes, the seams show, and it is snug-- to the poster who said she can not breathe with it on, try going up one size.

    I'd done the duct tape and two bra route. It hurt. I hurt. I am allergic to Pain.. no wait-- I am allergic to the adhesive on the back of the tape (band aids too.) Try the Enell. Seriously. You can also visit Callie at the MidWestHorse.blogspot.com blog- and zap her a message- she has a bra she uses that does lift and NOT mush "the girls" together as much.

    I came over here from Jump on and Ride- and am glad I did! Thank you for a great blog! Looking forward to reading along on your journey!

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  9. I have heard great things about Enell as well but they are a bit pricey and I have yet to pay 60$ yet for a 'maybe' but I really do intend on getting one before next show season.
    I am 38GG and those puppies have a mind of their own. I ride double bra'd (is that a word?) and while showing in Hand (running with the horse) I actually duct taped them down and almost lost consciousness for it. WAAAY too tight so I don't think I will make that mistake again..although I have to admit..the girls didn't move. I have even been found in our dressing/tack room at the shows using vet wrap to get them down, but it takes too many rolls.
    The lifesaving grace for me to show, (saddleseat, Huntseat and western as well as driving (Park/Pleasure)) was a girdle. Paid 35 for it online and mother of god does it suck everything in and even with my size give me a waist and makes the over all picture much prettier.
    Karen

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  10. I've seen this place recommended by several people. Haven't tried any yet, but plan to. http://www.titlenine.com

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  11. First, having a great support group behind you does make a world of difference! I am thankful that my husband and my son support my horse addiction 100%! They have even joined in and have their own horses and we are lucky enough to ride as a family.

    Thanks for the info on the slings! I have been trying to find some that support but don't hurt or cut of circulation, lol.

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  12. Hi, I just found this blog as a brand new rider. I have my 5th lesson 14 hours from now! My daughter has been riding for 3 years and I set a goal to join her when I hit 200 pounds (starting weight 260). I hit a wall at 205 and decided that riding might get things moving.
    On the "support" topic, I have owned a bra boutique for 13 years. I don't sell online or by phone, so this is all about information. I am very busty and wear the Satin and Lace bra y CFBC (www.cfbc.us is the manufacturer website). It is comfortable and controls bounce at what I would call 85%. Their all lace bra is extremely supportive and goes up to 52HH. They are expensive ($75 to $95 depending on size), but they last for years and years (if you don't kill them by putting them in the dryer). They certainly lift and separate, but some find them too pointy. My remedy for that is to get a $5 KMart stretch pull-over bra to smooth and round the profile. I used to have a booth at the county fair, and fit many rodeo riders so they never had to go charging for the finish with one arm across their bust again! I started rising trot last week, and bounce was never a distraction...but I did run out and get half chaps for my poor calves.
    If you email CFBC at info@cfbc.us, they can tell you if there is a dealer in your area. The lace version takes some getting used to, but like a new pair of boots or jeans, they break in and become shaped to you while shaping you to a more defined figure.
    Goddess also makes a very strong sports bra for fuller figures, but I found it too restrictive and flattening. Being attached to breathing, I nearly tore it off when I tried it. I have had clients, however, who just loved it.
    I would be happy to answer questions and give fitting suggestions.
    Cheers,
    Kate

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  13. I recently got an Enell - that I had professionally fitted. It holds amazingly - and yes, it shows lines under a t-shirt. I really don't care about that part because lines are far less attention grabbing than pogo-breasts! It does take some time to break in but now it feels like a second skin. (I wish my underwires gave me this much lift!)

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  14. I've just found your blog. Thanks. it's really encouraging! I wouldn't like to see weight loss stuff so much. I learned a few years back about 'health at every size' and 'fat acceptance' and got off the guilt and diet roller coaster. Now I just eat mostly healthy like 'normal' people do, and just be the weight I am and live the life I would like to live, not waiting to be thin first, because it is not going to happen. 95 percent of dieters gain it all back and a bit more besides because they've damaged their metabolism. I don't like those odds and I'm sick of beating myself up about those inevitable bounce backs.

    Re Enell bras. I totally love them! I have lots now. I wear them nearly all the time. My mega boobs made any underwire bras totally uncomfortable and even wearing two at once didn't work while riding. They do feel a bit tight for a little while so I wear new ones while doing active stuff (when I don't notice) till they loosen up a little. The white ones are softer and a little stretchier than the black ones, so are nicer to wear for every day. I don't care about the mono boob look. I'd prefer it to the 'shoulder straps forever slipping off and boobs falling over the top of my bra,' look. :)

    I'd love to see pics of people riding drafts and draft crosses as well as non-drafts. I love drafts! I'd have one even if I was thinner! I think any pics of other fat folks getting out and riding will encourage us.

    I sold my girl (QH/Clydie/Perch) due to finding out my 'CFS' was actually late stage lyme disease, as treatment can leave you feeling even worse for a while and I was already struggling with using all my limited energy caring for her. I told myself I'd buy a new horse when I began to get better. It's been over a year now and am getting pretty itchy for another horse even though I am only a bit better. For now I can read blogs like yours and keep my hopes up! xxx

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