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, April 24, 2010

Stick With It!

Bronwyn got a big compliment from my father tonight. We were talking about the five that we have, at various levels of training (including with no training)* and how we really needed to get some rides on some horses and he said "Well, we only have one broke horse in the barn."

Typically, I think of my sister's mare, Jessie, as the "broke horse" on the farm (sad, they all should be!). She is about 11, and though she's not a finished show horse, she is pretty easy going and you can post most competent adult riders on her. She is a little sensitive and can be quick but generally gives very few issues to anyone.

Ari only has six or eight (or a dozen?) rides on her so he clearly wasn't talking about her - or Rex or Freckles, both of which are technically unstarted (though Freckles has had one ride) - so he wasn't talking about them.

He was talking about Bronwyn, he told me. He figured she was a more willing horse to work with than Jessie who gets touchy about mud puddles and long reins tickling her legs. Bronwyn, though she isn't a horse that anyone can ride, probably IS the most "broke" horse we have on the farm and that is still a long way from saying much BUT that is not the point of my entry. The point of my entry is what a success it was to have a compliment paid to her by dad.

Though he has been on my team for a while, I did get a lot of flack about Bronwyn from the very beginning. I originally intended to get her, break her, and resell her (Imagine!).

She was so scared and jumpy when she first arrived that she could border on dangerous if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (I was only there once or twice and lived to tell the tale!). She was wary and mistrusting. She stood in the back of her stall and blew like a jake brake every time someone walked by. If I could get my hands on her, she would tolerate brushing and handling but you could tell that she was counting the minutes until it was over and she could do her own thing. I sat in her stall for hours, hoping to get her used to me and to "bond" with me but it never happened. She ran through my hands several times when I was trying to teach her to longe (before I got my round pen), and got sticky feet when leading.

During that time, I was reminded again and again that she was "dangerous" and that I was going to get hurt, and neither parent could understand why I insisted on keeping her when I had two other perfectly good horses (the not-fat horse posse) that I could use, plus some of theirs (including a 15.1hh stallion that was a more than worthy mount). I spent lots of nights, tears, ponderings, considering if I should just give up. I was ready to.

I spent six long months trying to convince Bronwyn to engage with me and be a willing partner. In the end, I had to think outside the box - way outside the box for me - and began with the clicker training. THAT was her language, food was her currency and eventually, we struck up, if nothing else, an uneasy partnership. It grew over the spring and at the end of April, 2008, with a small assembled group, including both of my parents, I rode her for the first time.

My dad told me: "When you got on her and I saw that you trusted her and she trusted you, that was enough." - I haven't heard a negative word since, even though dad and Bronwyn have frequent disagreements and still butt heads.

I stuck with it. It wasn't easy. I cried a lot and I wanted to give up most nights... but I stuck with it... it might have been my stubborn pride more than anything - I mean, what young, cocky horsewoman who has had horses her entire life wants to admit that they can't reason with a horse? I don't know what it was that made me persevere - maybe it was the same thing that made me pick her out of a herd of young draft horses and bring her home in the same day, the same thing that made me envision her braided and shined up under English tack, the same thing that made me see a partnership that didn't exist yet... but I can say I am glad I did.

When Angel died, dad told me the same night that everything happened for a reason, whether we understood it at the time or not (I didn't, and I hated him for saying something so foolish). Bronwyn is my reason.

Who would have known that that crazy, sad, lifeless horse with no personality and no interest in partnership would turn out to be that horse that gives me the evil eye if I don't at least pop in to give her a kiss when I am in the barn... the horse that will look at something scary skeptically and say "I don't know, mom..." but when I insist, will say "okay, mom, I trust you."... the horse that has a huge, overflowing personality and great work ethic, and really, truly, desires to engage with her chosen partner? She shone up beautifully, like obsidian hiding under the tragedy of the circumstances she endured in the months prior to the two homes before me that got her out of it and began to bring her around.

I can't take 100% credit for the horse that Bronwyn is... just like I can't take 100% credit for the person that I have become. Bronwyn did that... and my life is so much richer for it. I had an appointment with a banker earlier this week and as I spoke to her and explained what I needed, she looked at me with a wise look and said "You really sound like you have a good life." and I said "I really, really do." - and none of that would have been possible if I hadn't stuck with it - with everything over the years.

Ladies... stick with it. The road is not always going to be easy. There will be bumps and bruises (and rope burn!) and you will likely shed a tear or two, meet closed doors, and feel completely hopeless, and want to back out... but find yourself a good support system and work through it. You deserve it!

* I have horses because I love horses, not necessarily to ride. I am perfectly fine with the idea that some of mine aren't broke right now though they are all riding age. :)


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  2. What a terrific entry!! I am so very proud of you and B!! You both have come so very far, and I am so proud to be able to tag along on your journey!!

    P.S. I have NO IDEA who INSANEplus2 is!! I went to sign into my acct and that is the name that came up! lol It posted before I even realized it wasn't me!! haha

  3. wow you give me the courage to continue on with my somewhat 'bruised horses', bruised meaning horses with issues. guess alot of it is my issues and in their eyes they have no problems and I am the one that needs the courage.
    I am working on gaining my horses trust and respect and even in a few short days after the horse fair in Truro I can see a difference in them trusting me more.

    Like you said they may say they are scared to do something but if they trust you they will try because they trust you.

    thanks for the blog it has encouraged me to do more and strive to be the best that my horses and I can be despite all the road blocks along the way.
    you go girl!

  4. I'm a newish reader, first time commenter-just wanted to say this is a wonderful, inspiring post! I've totally, totally been there with my OTTB gelding, but I now love him to pieces and he thinks I'm alright too:) The partnership you have with a horse that you've been through trying times with is stronger than anything I've experienced, and I wouldn't trade those early days for anything now! Great blog!

  5. I just want you to know that your blog has been very inspirational to me. I've always been a big girl and my anxieties about it have kept me from doing the things I love, like pursuing my interest in horses. In the past few months I've learned about fat acceptance and come a long way in learning to love my body, but I never believed that I could still ride horses at my weight until I found your blog.

    This post is so beautiful. You and your horse are adorable together. I hope at some point in the future I get the opportunity to have the same bond you do Bronwyn.

  6. You inspire me. I have four trained in varying degrees but the lack of intestinal fortitude (guts) keeps me on the ground. I am working on that and look every where for inspiration.

  7. Hi, I dunno if you read your comments but I wanted to say that, you are my hero right now!! I have a six year old Belgian Draft/TB cross that I rescued from a horrible owner in Santafe, TX. Bella (her name) was supposed to be my hunter/jumper/eventer partner. But she was drugged when I tried her out so when I got her home, she was a nightmare. I'll have had her for a year this June 20th, 2010 ... if I keep her. Bella and I have been through possibly the worst. Maybe once a month we'll have 20 minutes of peace. 20 minutes of inspiration. Most of the time I want to give up. I don't know how to put our relationship into words, but, reading post makes me want to stick with her. Because I know that somehow, it was destined for me to have her. I had been offered all kinds of well trained horses at expensive prices. Beautiful, well-trained, well-known horses. But once I saw that awkward young horse, I knew I just had to take her home, despite her missing every jump and rearing up a few times. But she's made me a better and stronger person AND rider. Feel free to check out our (interesting/depressing/heartbreaking/funny/enlightening/just-plain-weird) blog at wisheskissesandhorses.blogspot.com :] thank you for giving me hope again!!

  8. My horse, Dusty, is a rescue. We spent the last year healing his bad knee and some emotional issues and my fear of hurting him with my weight. There were many times I was ready to give up but we stayed focued and continue the healing program. This summer looks like it will be good for riding for both of us. We can not take long rides but will do what we can. We also enjoy just walking and talking. I greatly appreciate this blog. It has helped me feel good about myself and continue with my love of horses. Thank you for all you tips and stories and help.