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, January 18, 2010

Dressage Diva or Backyard Betty?

I mentioned in my last entry that I was offered an opportunity to ride a great horse, and I got to take that opportunity up yesterday afternoon!

I should preface this by saying, if it hasn't already been made fairly clear through my blog posts, that Bronwyn is still very green. As in, when I am working her, I am teaching her, at all times, and have fallen prey to some of those weaknesses in my equitation due to working a green horse. I took lessons when I was getting back into riding, but nothing was quite like this.

I arrived a few minutes late and the big guy was already tacked up. My doctor has an affinity for appaloosas so the big fella, Orion, is 1/2 App, 1/4 Thoroughbred, and 1/4 Percheron. 16.2hh looks a lot bigger in person than you generally envision, and he had those great big feet and BEAUTIFUL bone. I would have probably been almost immediately deeply in love if he didn't have the ratty App tail and mane - nothing to hang on to!

She started me out easy on the longe line, which was a nice touch, I think, since I am so new to English riding and still not very confident with it. We did some half halts (I insisted I didn't know what they were but once we got going, I had a "Duh!" moment - this is a technique we have ALWAYS used in training horses, just never called it by that name!), some sitting and posting trot, during which she insisted I ride with my fingers on the buckle of the reins. I don't lean on my reins by nature, but I felt very insecure without them to hang on to - PLUS no mane to grab! She asked me if I'd like to canter and I declined, at first.

Bronwyn is still not very balanced at the canter, and I have ditched it, honestly, in favour of having her bending and moving laterally and collecting herself at the walk and trot before adding speed to the mix. Add to that, my round pen is just too small for her to get it together and we have only cantered a handful of times. Hopefully, I will remedy this in the spring when I drive posts for my riding ring rather than just having a round pen! So needless to say, I haven't done a lot of canter work in the last couple of years. When I thought of cantering, all I could think about was the excessive push to get the speed, the disjointedness to start with, and then the balance out. I forgot that broke horses usually just move into it smoothly and have all their stuff together.

We did some more posting trot and I began to feel fairly comfortable and then she asked again if I'd like to canter. I agreed to it, and he moved right into it. It was most honestly the most enormous canter I have ever ridden! I felt so good after I was finished that I couldn't wipe the big grin off of my face. I was even willing, after feeling that, to forgive the big guy for not having a mane or tail. I would buy him in a heartbeat if he were for sale! I don't know if it was him in general or just a broke horse that wasn't giving me any grief and didn't need to be guided in every direction.

Overall, it was a fantastic ride. Later, I was chatting with the barn owner and my doctor about Bronwyn and her history - where she began, where she is at, mentally, and everything in between. They kept saying I ought to sell her and buy something with the breeding to back up what I want to do. I tried to explain to them that she is what she is and I am happy with that, to which I got "Well maybe you can keep her as your pet and get something that can do what you really want to do."

Which lead me to the pondering of - what exactly do I want to do with horses? The answer is - I don't know, for sure. When I think about showing Bronwyn, I think about showing her at open shows, in English pleasure, farting around at games, maybe over a couple of crossrails - nothing that requires any immense talent or skill on the part of the horse.

What helps largely is that I don't have any long terms plans or Olympic dressage dreams to make me disappointed in what will eventually be Bronwyn's "full potential". As I told them at the barn yesterday - I am a western rider who just happens to have an English horse and an English saddle. Beyond that, I am willing to do whatever it is that Bronwyn is capable of. My first love always, always will be western pleasure, because that is what I grew up with, and if Bronwyn ended up only being suitable for trail and parades, I have other horses that I can pursue western pleasure with. However, I don't dream every day of doing western pleasure with Bronwyn and wowing the socks off of people at the Western Horse Extravaganza with her every year. I dream of doing what she has the skill and talent to do, whatever that might be.

I have always been one that supports others who have horses that are not suitable for their dreams. I have no problems with people buying horses that better suit what they would like to do - ie, if they are a dressage rider with a western horse or a horse that has no talent for dressage, I would not fault them for selling that horse or buying another that they can succeed with. I just don't think right now is the time for me to be selling on or buying another horse because I know I can succeed with Bronwyn, and if all that success is only in my own back yard, I am still perfectly happy with that.


  1. Hey, I've only recently discovered your blog and just wanted to say thanks! I'm about the same size as you and am currently trying to lose weight, but am not riding, I haven't been for quite a while because of the whole size issues, so your blog's helping me out a little bit :) Thanks! xxx

  2. I'm pretty much where you are in that I'm quite happy to do whatever Kieran seems to be comfortable doing, even if that's just toodling around in the ring and going on trail rides. I have no great ambition to compete, but there's all sorts of things I'd like to at least try once that you at least need a quiet, sensible horse. I've got that, I'm good. :)

  3. Hey Tashie - I am glad I could be of some assistance with this blog! That was truly the main reason I started it - to get people thinking and help them realize that you CAN do it! If you get a chance, read back through many of my early entries which highlight a lot of key notes about riding at a large size. Thanks for your readership!

    Analise - it's an okay place to be, eh? I did all of the intense breed showing when I was a kid. Sure, I'd like to get back into showing, but I want to do it somewhere where we are all friends and there is no cut throating or 20k warmbloods. :) I think I can find that, and I think Bronwyn could handle that!

  4. If you talk to so many people, any sound horse can do through 2 or 3rd level. If you reach that level you may want another horse. Right now it sounds like you are very happy with what Bronwyn can do.

    I have spent the last few days lamenting on my blog about the horse I bought for a specific reason really can not do what I want her to do. Now I do feel rather stuck. I'll suck it up though and muddle through. :)

  5. Hi, great blog you're writing there! I'm reading from Germany and currently also getting back into saddle after a long hiatus during which I gathered weight up to my now 230 US lbs (roughly). My mount is an Icelander mare, solidly built and 14 hh.

    What I do find funny while reading your posts is that you - of all things - turn to an English saddle. I specifically bought a western saddle for my mare to spread my weight evenly and wider/farther on her back, so she can bear me more easily. I'd never ride her with an English saddle at all. Additionally I don't understand that phrase "English horse and English saddle". The longtime European Open Western Equitation and Western Pleasure winner for nearly a decade and against accomplished US riders on QH, Paints or Appaloosas was a man riding a Fyord-Haflinger pony-mix (of course in western tack and saddle)! He was succeeded for several years by a girl riding a rather enormous (some 17+hh) Hannoverian warmblood (the genuine article). Here in Europe among leisure and pleasure riders there's no such thing a "an English horse which needs an English saddle". There's only a riding/equitation method called "classic FEI sports" (equalling "English"), one called "Western" or whatever else you prefer riding. The horse's breed or looks don't really matter.

  6. Here I grew up with western pleasure horses and plan to show - there is a very specific movement required to be successful in the western pen, not just a saddle.

    Where I plan to show, I choose to ride in the discipline that fits the movement of my horse the best - her springy trot, more upright neck carriage, and long strides commend her to English pleasure and dressage far more easily than cramming her into the western ideal.

    I hope that helps you understand my choice. In either case, I am very diligent about keeping an eye on her back and any discomfort she shows when carrying me during and after a ride. Thanks for your comment!

  7. I stumbled upon this blog by accident when I was feeling fat and missing horses. I have a 2 stall barn and all of the western and english equipment to take care of 6 horses...LOL, but no horse. I used to take care of 25 horses. I am on a quest to fix up the barn and get back to horses and fitness for me. I am 46 and have taken care of people for 30 years, now its time for me! Thank you and keep up the great work.