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!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Right Horse For The Job

I have talked in the blog previously about the right horse physically for the job - in my entry, Fat Rider Myth #1: Fat People Should Only Ride Drafts (Or: Chosing A Suitable Mount), I discussed the importance of a strong, short back and good bone. Over the course of the blog, I have also written about other things that make your match with your horse very important, like saddle fit, fitness of both horse and rider, and other things.

Often when you are talking to people who just don't understand that fat people can ride, they neglect to remember that as a plus sized rider, we are often more aware of our body and the way that it effects the horse we are riding. I can't push that point home enough, ladies (and men, if you are reading?) - be aware of what you are doing, how you ride and how your horse is handling it.

Some of you might have been confused by the photo in the last entry. For those who need to be brought up to speed, I came to Tucson to help a dear friend (who also happens to be my weight loss buddy - we have lost almost 60lbs between us since just before Christmas) get back into riding. The mare we are with is named Ginger, a great Suffolk Punch mare that I have drooled over since the day that my friend got her over a year ago. That picture is of the first time that my friend has ridden since she got the mare, when she tried her out at the seller's house.

There can be so many fears and concerns that surround riding a horse, especially when you are at a weight at which you know you could get hurt badly in a fall. The thought crosses my mind every time that I ride. Sometimes it helps to have someone there to push you through the mind games you can play with yourself, and remind you that not everything bad happens when it could - it's a part of developing confidence and pride in yourself and the things you accomplish. What also really helps is to have a great horse.

Physically, Ginger is up to the task. I knew that when I saw her. I highly suspected just from photos of her face, her soft eye and her giant body (that is WAY too much effort to launch into many airs above ground) that she likely had the personality for it, too.

The thing is: when you are as heavy as I was when I started riding again (324) and as heavy as my friend is (I'm not going to disclose her weight!), the most you really can do is walk. It gives you a good workout - my friend will attest to that (and hopefully write a little reflection on my visit for the blog!). She will probably just be walking and getting her balance under her for several months. As she becomes more able to do more, the mare will have become fitter and so will the rider have. It's not like she is planning to go eventing tomorrow (though that may be in their future?!).

Anyways, back to extolling Ginger's virtues. This mare is patient and laid back - she has very little to say about most things, and if she is uncomfortable, she just stops rather than bucking or throwing herself around. She has a GREAT spook (I know, people are like "a great spook?! what spook is a GOOD spook, even?") - she more or less spooks in place when something scares her. She will startle, and maybe take a step or two but is easily reined in and brought back under control. Bronwyn spooks the same way - she just spooks more often than Ginger does! I was able to experience one of Ginger's spooks a couple of days ago, BAREBACK no less, when someone was playing in a dumpster at the neighbouring school. I have informed my friend that if I, World's Worst Bareback Rider (TM), could sit that spook without a saddle, she definitely could have sat it WITH one!

Overall, though, "Ginny", as we call her, is the right horse for this job. She is going to be great to build my friend's confidence and help her get back into riding and get those muscles all fitted up for further riding (I already have dibs on bringing Ginny to Canada when my friend no longer needs her! LOL). I wish I could pack her in my suitcase.

I just really want to be encouraging to anyone who is afraid to get back into riding these days -- my friend has also told me that having someone ride the horse you intend to ride in front of you several times to just show you how they are going to react to various things is extremely useful. Just being able to see where the horse's limits are, and where attitude may show up (with Ginny, it is pretty much nowhere, I have discovered!) is very helpful in building confidence from the ground. Being able to accomplish small tasks (like dismounting that giant horse without falling on your butt!) are also good confidence builders. Get a good friend to give you a hand if you're afraid, or an instructor who, as I always stress, understands your limitations and helps you work around them instead of just ignoring them, is always a good option. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There is no reason to fear. Ginny says so.


  1. "her giant body (that is WAY too much effort to launch into many airs above ground)".
    Don't count on that! I know a 15'1 fatty Canadian who will happily prove you wrong. He ACTUALLY preformed one of their moves once, on his own with no training. Sent my friend somersaulting over his back...laughing to kill herself.

  2. Awesome! It is great to have someone ride your horse in front of you. It really does. It help you to visualize what your horse will be like when you ride.

  3. Having the right fit for both horse and rider is important, that's for sure.

  4. I can't thank you enough for helping out our mutual friend! When I saw the pic of her up on Ginny I had tears of joy in my eyes! Thank you, thank you!

  5. Gingerrrrrrrrrrrr!

    (coherency, who needs that?)

  6. Amanda,
    It was a pleasure meeting you on the flight from Philly to Phoenix. I am inspired by your efforts and your go-get-'em attitude! Hope you had fun in Tucson and a safe trip home. I look forward to following your progess!
    Patty T.

  7. Don't ever let anyone tell you you are too big for anything, that's crap. Ride girl ride. I am 53 and 275 lbs and intend to get back into riding, and if I can do it anyone can, just not sure yet which horse I want, I think I am going to go with a short stocky old laid back draft to start with. Good luck to you and good luck to me :) Carry on.

  8. Hi! I came across your blog because after 8 years of being away from horses I decided to try bringing them back into my life. One of my main concerns was my weight and being too heavy for riding. I am working to lose the weight but of course it is not going to happen overnight so I felt discouraged. I was afraid that I would hurt a horse and/or myself if I partake in some riding until I am smaller. Thankfully I have found a farm/rescue/training/sales place that will let me volunteer to work with the horses so I go out every weekend and do the grooming and ground work with their horses. It still leaves me with a sense of longing though watching the others ride....that is until last weekend when the owner who is also a trainer mentioned that she has a couple of horses that she knows I will be able to ride of hers. I think despite myself the excitement was obvious however I was still a bit nervous because of my weight. Reading your blog has helped me to gain some confidence that it will be ok and it actually made me cry (happy tears) knowing that I can still enjoy my passion with horses even as I lose weight. Don't get me wrong I do enjoy just spending time with them but there is something to be said about being in the saddle again. Thank you.