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, June 13, 2010

Why I do this...

Though I waffled (yes, those on the forum know I am a chronic waffler!) back and forth between thinking I had lost all semblance of sanity and between believing I would be in my happy place, I headed out Friday night to our Cloverbud & Junior 4H Camp this weekend to chaperone 65 7-12 year old boys and girls.

The place that hosted us, Caton's Island, is a gorgeous Christian summer camp that is set on (surprise!) an island and offers a variety of activities, including a climbing wall, canoeing, swimming, and horseback riding.

I didn't expect to do any riding, but early yesterday morning, the horse director (who is a neighbour of mine) pulled me aside and asked if I was going to be available while our kids did camp-based activities, as he knew I 'had a talent' and thought I would have fun helping out. I strong armed my way into getting up there and managed to even get in a few rides (granted, it was a laid back trail string).

I ended up spending the entire afternoon fitting helmets onto excited kids - some who had ridden before and others who had never even touched a horse in their entire life. I spent some time up on horses with kids who had never ridden before. I rode near the head of the string on a quarter horse... yes, I rode a horse that wasn't a draft cross and it didn't keel over and die! And she wasn't even a very big horse.

Overall, I think the experience was cathartic and a good balm for my soul. Sometimes, I think I forget why I still do this anymore. I think these days, I do it to satisfy the girl in me that once let herself believe she couldn't... but sometimes I also think that I am doing it for every other girl out there who gets told she can't, or she shouldn't. I do it for the kids who don't ever imagine that they could do it - for the sense of accomplishment and pride they will feel when they actually do.

One thing I really liked about the program, and I discussed it with the director at length over the weekend, is that he uses primarily draft and draft crosses in his program because of their reasonably good minds, and the fact that he will have among them, a suitable horse for just about any child. It made me think, and consider a lot of things.

You see, I have a little secret. My biggest dream in the world is to operate some kind of scenario on a large scale where children (particularly girls with self esteem or body image issues) can come together with horses, accomplish something, feel worth and pride in their skills and talents... I even have a piece of land picked out for the program - I just have to figure out how I would operate it, and where the money would come from. Nothing would please me more than to see children learning that they CAN do things and that they ARE valuable, and have skills, talents, and characteristics (physical and otherwise) that are worth being proud of, regardless of what anyone else might tell them.

I think I learned a lot about the value of myself when I started making headway with Bronwyn - most people out there don't care that much about the fact that I taught a once semi-feral horse to do the things she now can do, but the proof is in the pudding - she has become a reasonable equine citizen... she can be handled, she can be ridden, she has manners... things she never had before, and I instilled them in her. It might not be worth something to everyone, but it's worth something to me, and to Bronwyn.

Did the beginnings of your realizations of self worth come from a horse?


  1. Yes! Absolutely! Horseback riding changed my life. I used to be a shy wallflower with huge self-esteem issues until I started riding as a young teen. Riding gave me confidence in myself, and gave me something to live for at a time when I was questioning whether life was even worth it. Today, nobody who knows me would ever believe I was that shy, miserable chubby girl on the playground.

    I hope that someday you realize your dream...and that if you do I can come work with you! What an amazing idea for a program!

  2. What a GREAT post! I hope you are a able to realize those dreams of yours in some form.

    And yes, horses have without a doubt shaped soooo much of myself, in ways I understand and some I probably don't. I remember, very distinctly, riding the school bus home one afternoon in 6th grade, and wondering at length WHAT kids without horses in their lives looked forward to? Boys hadn't grabbed my attentions (much:) at that point, and yeah, I played soccer and softball, but HORSES were what I loved, dreamed about, etc. Without them...I have no idea who I would be now.

    My one regret is I didn't try harder to make horses/animals my life's work. I know it's not too late, but it would have been a WHOLE lot easier if I had started and planned earlier. That's why I SO hope you are able to make your dreams happen!

  3. What a wonderful post! And a wonderful idea .To share the gifts horses can give a child. I was odd one out as a kid ,farm kid bussed to a city school. My horses gave me so much , confidence onconditional love and the sense of belonging I yearned for . Because of that/them I was able to face the "bumpkin' comments and develop a good sense of self ,and that did lead to me being able to fit in just about anywhere I wanted to . Great idea ,I will have to go back and read more about you and Bronwyn

  4. Great post. You have a big heart. Focus on your dream and it will come true.

    I am a new rider/owner and to top it off, I am in my 50's and slightly round. :-) I was told by some that I was crazy to take up riding so late in life, but my family and close friends supported me in my adventure and I have never looked back. Riding is one of those activities that equalizes. It doesn't matter what your size is. It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter what your skill level is. In my experience, horse people are non-judgmental - they were once where you are - and are always willing to help. This is the first activity I have participated in that doesn't make me self-conscious. It's freeing and it's absolutely magic.

  5. This is a great post. I'm behind you all the way! I think horses can be therapeutic for a number of different issues, and I know as someone who has always suffered from poor self-esteem that when I got on my horse and rode like the wind the rest just all disappeared. It didn't matter that the other kids at school were mean to me or that I didn't have a boyfriend. It was just me and my horse, and that was worth more than other people's opinions of me. I was a good rider, no matter what anyone else thought of me. Anyway, I do not get my self-worth from horses now, but riding is a definite confidence booster and an amazing gift. I hope you will find a way to realize your dream. Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it!

  6. Riding can certainly create wonderful transformations in a persons outlook and happiness. The program you describe has sooo much potential. Hope it comes to fruition some day. Having the vision is the first step.
    I think you were going to show soon? Hope you give an update!

  7. What an encouraging story! Nearly every woman I have ever met has body image issues. I love your idea about helping girls develop a better sense of self. None of us looks like the airbrush models of media fame. I dreaded doing anything until I learned to accept myself as I am. Now, I feel comfortable no matter what I'm doing: shopping for new horse riding clothing, going to the beach with friends, or just hanging out. Horses definitely help us step outside ourselves, which is an important first step in gaining a more positive perspective.