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, April 1, 2013

And now for the part that I wish was an April Fool's joke...

This morning, it was brought to my attention that a photo from my blog was used on a Spanish language Facebook page in a post detracting plus sized riders, citing a 15-18% "rule" and assuming that I was over that limit. 

It was this photo:

I like how they blurred out my face, at least, for "privacy" - though within a few hours of it being posted someone who reads my blog with a Spanish translation on it recognized  me and pointed the picture out to me.

I remember not loving the way I looked in that series of photos but I LOVED the way I felt. I was helping a friend reach a goal, fulfill a dream - I had a lot of fun with both that horse and that woman.

For those of you who are wondering, in this photo, I am riding Ginger, an adult Suffolk Punch mare, on my trip to Arizona to help my friend Carina get back into riding - I chronicled this on the blog.

A couple of points -

I wish they had gotten the facts straight. This is what they posted:

In this picture you can see a growing problem that threatens the health of horses in the "developed" regions of the world. Before starting, I must say, that the last thing we are looking for with this picture is offend anybody, cuz we just want to speak objectively of a real and actual horse problem.

The horse has a known weight bearing capacity, which is between 15 and 20% of their body weight, 15% being the "best" (ignoring the fact that the optimum is avoid putting weight on their back), 18% recommended maximum and 20% "absolute" maximum. Therefore, in order to prevent injury to our equine companion, we should try to keep the ratio "rider weight + equipment" between 15 and 18% of the IDEAL live weight of our horse (understanding as ideal a body condition score of 5 or 5.5).

How that translates into kilograms?
1. - For a 400kg horse: 60-72kg2. - For a 500 kg horse: 75-90Kg3. - For a 600kg horse: 90-108kg

What does this mean?
1. - The BCS and the horse size are factors to consider during the purchase or acquisition procedure (as long as the horse is going to be mounted).
2. - The rider (whether man, woman, child or adult) must be fit, not only for the welfare of his horse, but for his own health.
3. - The equipment should be as light, minimalist and comfortable as possible.
Image from the website: http://afatgirlafathorse.blogspot.com.es/
(Text from the FB page Cuidado natural del caballo y de sus pies descalzos (barefoot))

I'd like to point out that the photo has since been removed by the page owner at my request, but I still feel this is worth talking about.

I'd like to do the math for a moment.

Let's say that Ginger weighed 1500lbs. I feel that, as large a horse as she is, that would be conservative as an estimate on her weight. 1500lbs translates to 680kg.

In that photo, I was at my lowest which would be 248lbs, which translates to 112kg. The tack, as I remember was large but not that heavy, I don't recall having trouble hoisting it onto her very tall back by any stretch of the imagination and as my core is my body part that "needs improvement", I doubt if it was that heavy I could hoist it over my head. Let's call it 35lbs, just for fun (I am a bad guesser or estimator when it comes to these things but I imagine it didn't weigh any more than my dog) - so we are up to 283lbs = 128kg... which is... about 18% of the total weight of my mount. (The most commonly referenced "weight limit" in any reasonable study that has been performed is usually around 20-25%, for anyone wondering.) I spent that week riding her for 15-30 minutes... four times, possibly - at a walk and very infrequently, a trot. 

I would be lying if I said stuff like this didn't hurt my feelings a little bit. I think what hurts the most is when someone sees a belly roll and begins to make assumptions about a) my weight and b) my lifestyle. I have come to expect these sorts of judgments because I put myself out there a lot.

This could have gone an entirely different way. The owner of the page (who clearly has a reasonable grasp of  English) could have asked me both permission to use my photo and what the facts were. I would have been glad to have had my photo shared as an example of what 18% looks like, in order to help people stop making assumptions about plus sized riders. I would have accepted criticism then - it's inevitable on the world wide web. 

At the end of the day, yes, this hurt me, but no - I won't stop riding, and no, I won't stop sharing it with you guys. For every detractor who can't get their facts straight, there are ten of you writing me emails or sending me messages on Facebook or comments on the blog saying that I have inspired you to start living your lives again. So I will remember the facts that I know to be true, I will take a tip from ducks and let it roll off my back.


  1. You and Ginger look marvelous, dear. Don't let the negatories get you down. I live in Quarter Horse land and many a cowboy weighing more than you have successfully ridden quarter horses, not nearly Ginger's size, in full speed contests such as roping, bulldogging and team roping. People who write blogs like the one you have had your picture hijacked to don't know or care about facts -- they just want to cause problems. Report them to FB because they are clearly in violation of FB rules regarding the usage of other people's pictures.

  2. I am a large girl and ride an 1100 lb stbd for the past 14 yrs.... I also hop on my daughters 14hh 1000lb qh mare. Neither of them have any problem hauling my ass around :) I think you look great and are an inspiration!

  3. Did you reach out to the page owner? Have they responded? I wouldn't let this stand - either they should post the facts or take down your picture.

  4. I'm so sorry that they used this picture of you to portray their flawed views. What an ugly thing to do!

  5. Oh no... Dont show this article to my mare! She might start trying to use it against me and allow her to continue to be the pasture puff she so wishes to be!

  6. There's been a rant boiling in the back of my mind for a few days regarding "health" and "weight". Because, goshdarnit, I've been through the wringer over the last few months for medical tests (completely unrelated to weight, I may add) but it did bring one thing home to me. Despite my 230ish pounds and 5'4" height? I am actually pretty darn healthy. Blood pressure is good, cholesterol is good, blood sugar is good, thyroid levels good, heart rate good, heart in general good, heck I had a freaking spinal tap that was completely normal....you get the idea.

    My horse has no problem carrying me around. Hell, we jump and as near as I can tell, he thinks it's pretty awesome. My core strength may not be where I want it to be, but I'm not a weakling either and I've spent a significant amount of time in working on improving my posture, improving my leg strength, not leaning on my hands, again...you get the idea.

    But if somebody just pulled out a picture of us walking around, particularly if he was all relaxed and had dropped his head like in your picture up there of Ginger (who is awesome, btw, I always liked her)...somebody I'm sure would say that I was being cruel riding him at my weight. That I should be "healthier" before I rode.

    Yeah. Okay. Right.

  7. Oh Amanda, I am sorry this happened. I guess our educating of the masses (no pun intended) will never end. There is SO MUCH MORE that goes into horse/rider weight ratio.

    Just to clarify, Ginger was my horse and it was I who Amanda was helping. And actually, the photo was taken by me. I rode Ginger, without ANY problems at a walk and a jog twice a week for about an hour at a time. I weighed 370lbs at the time. Ginger NEVER had any issue carrying me on our rides. Granted, I would never have asked her to run barrels or climb steep hills, etc with my weight. But walking on a good, flat surface was no issue for her. She never stumbled, she never came up lame, she never refused to let me mount (and being a very opinionated Draft horse, she had no hesitation about making her feelings known and would have started behaving badly if she had been uncomfortable with my riding her).

    I am so grateful to Amanda, and all of the wonderful friends I have made through her blog and forum. They have helped me to believe that, despite my size, I am able to ride and I will continue to follow my dreams and reach those goals.

    Ignorant people abound, but don't let them get you down. Ginger and I were a perfect example of how a rider needs to "listen" to their horse. Regardless of a rider's size, they should ALWAYS check legs and back after riding. Always hose down a horse's legs to help tighten the tendons and ward off post-workout injury. Always pay close attention to your horse's actions and reactions. Stumbling, for example, isn't always a sign of a lazy horse; it could very well be a reaction to pain or having to bear to heavy a load.

    Plus-sized riders are not the only or worst problem in the horse industry. Lightweight riders cause just as much problem, if not more, than heavier riders.

  8. Well that just sucks. They were wrong, wrong, wrong in what they wrote and in using your photo. People like that make me so mad.

  9. People can be so shallow and full of themselves.

    I am currently 14 years old (will be Monday) and I weigh about 245 pounds...give or take. I love to ride horses although I don't own one. My older brother died about a year and a half ago when he was 15, and sense then I have just sort of have up. He and his twin brother take after my mom who is a twig and they both love/loved to work out and stay in shape. The more I think about this the more it encourages me to get in shape myself to "make him happy" or just live for him. His girlfriend at the time has 2 older horses and I have has the opportunity to do some things with one of them during the summer. She hasn't been ridden in close to 3 years so I am very weary in riding her. I have say on her and have someone do a few circles with her then get off but so far that's all I have done. This summer my goal is to loose around 50lbs. This would help further my horseback riding career. I honestly don't really know where I was going with this but I just wanted to say that many people are struggling like you are with many different things in their lives and everyone needs a person to talk to.

    Thank you for what you do and who you are.

  10. I think this is very cruel of them, sometimes I wish over opinionated know-it-alls would bite their own tongs clean off. In this case their fingers would snap mid key-stroke. The horse world is full to over flowing with insensitive, bullies. :( "MYOB" nosie! ;) Happy Trails! x