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!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Day 3

Day 3 [I promise these won't all be this long, some will be 'we lunged for 10 minutes. there were bugs. the end.']
IT TURNS OUT that my hypothesis that I would do better if I was accountable to an audience was correct.
(By the way, thank you all so much for all the kind comments and encouragement last night on my post. I stayed up WAY TOO LATE reading them and trying to respond to every one, and then my child woke up 4 times between 1:30 and 5:30 am...)
... which leads me to... I wasn't going to work her today. I have an overnight shift tonight and do a lot of prep (including a nap) during the day prior. I wasn't exactly energetic this morning before the day started getting warmer. BUT... I thought about all the comments from last night, all the people who are 'glad to see me' and I changed out of my nightgown and even put on a bra (!!) and went to the barn. (Don't mind the stain on my shirt, this is Life With Toddler lol).
We did the same as the last 2 days -- 5 minutes in each direction, any speed. I walked in place for at least 8 of those minutes. There was less trotting today. We might be sore/becoming aware of our muscles, or it might have been the heat. It was 23C but neither Bronwyn nor I love the heat (I also don't love the cold, but I'm pretty sure B is part yak).
I just wanted to talk for a minute about fear, as it specifically pertains to my situation. We talked about it a bit in the comments last night.
I often tell people B is 'squirrely'. She's hyperaware of her surroundings and is the type to leap first and ask questions later. I know that about her. I think that is part of what is intimidating me about riding, especially at this fitness level. I can say a lot of other stuff (and I will, on another day) about making time for what you love, and excuses, priorities, and self care. But at the very deep bottom of this, there is this:
I am a mother and someone depends on me not to be hurt. If I'm hurt (or God forbid, worse), there's a kid that needs me. And yeah, it's better now that I don't have to carry him everywhere, but at the end of the day, somebody's gotta drive the car to the splash pad and make his cheese sandwiches and while I have a very engaged parenting partner and extra help from my parents, a very significant part of the time, that somebody is me. I already have all that weird mom guilt that comes with doing anything that takes away from the enriching engagement that a lot of moms strive for - like when he's independently exploring the variety of toys he has while I write or do admin stuff for my author job - an injury or time out of commission that is 'self inflicted' feels worse, somehow. Selfish, maybe? Because I did it while I was doing something leisurely, a hobby that's just for me?
I think a big component of my fear is that I just haven't been spending as much time as I used to with Bronwyn, so it feels like I'm out of touch with 'who she is', so to speak. I used to never sweat falling off because I knew it was inevitable -- I tell people she's 'predictably unpredictable' and that's how we get along -- but I feel like I'm out of touch with her nuances since it seems all I do is turn out, muck, bring in, hold for trimmers these days. I'm interested to see how that progresses as we move through this.
Thanks for being along for the ride!
Amanda & Bronwyn

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Day 1 & 2

(Check out my FB page where all this stuff gets posted. I am copy posting everything to the blog for reference/timeline/retrospect, but it'll always be on the Facebook page first, because I had overwhelming response that people would prefer to see our journey chronicled there. I just can't let go of a blog. LOL.)

Day 1 & 2
Ride by my birthday; Countdown: 70 days
I'm going to try to post daily. Definitely easier that way.
So, in October it will have been 3 years since I rode. Wild, right? First pregnancy kicked my butt and then winter, and then the rest kind of got away from me and here we are, with my kid turning 2 in September. So it's time for me to do some things I want to do, return to my roots, and benefit from the whole reason we bought this property in the first place -- to have my horses nearby so I can do stuff with them!
(ICYMI, I got married in October 2015, found out I was pregnant in January 2016, bought a house in April 2016, had my baby in September 2016, and here we are. In the last 4 years, I've also built a (small but exciting) career as a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary western romance as my alter ego Amity Lassiter, Romance Author, which started in September 2014. So that's the down and dirty of the last few years.)
Anyways, Bronwyn and I have reached critical mass (har har). I think the both of us are as unfit and chubby as we've ever been and it's time for that to change. I'm not the only one in this partnership who enjoys working together; Bronwyn loves being in regular work, and despite being in my backyard for 2 years now, she hasn't gotten any of that. So here we are.
Through the blog, I've always encouraged everyone to ride a suitable horse at whatever weight. So I feel a bit hypocritical saying I feel too heavy to ride right now -- truthfully, it's not even that, really -- it's fitness. I've *always* talked about fitness over weight loss, and right now, the idea of tacking up and going for a ride feels like overwhelmingly too much work -- like I'd be too tired from struggling into breeches and boots, tacking up, and warming up, to even execute any kind of ride, nevermind carry out my duties as a mother, wife, and keeper of the house, afterwards. So that's where *I* am working from.
B is working from three years since she was last ridden and longer still since she's been in any kind of shape besides 'round and jiggly'. Yes, she's cresty. Yes, she's creaky. She is definitely in desperate need of losing weight. So we're working from that point for her. Plus, I don't think her saddle would fit her right now.
I'd like to get on by my birthday, September 20th. That's 70 days. I think it's doable (I didn't say it had to be a hunter pace, lol). Just a little plod around.
I'll have to work around naptimes and heat waves and writing deadlines and day job, but I hope that by posting it, I'll feel more accountable and keep going.
So day 1 -- it was nice and not too hot when I went to turn the horses out for the night (they stay in out of the heat and bugs during the day) so I decided to lunge Bronwyn. 5 minutes in each direction. A couple of trot circles, but then beyond that just walking, forward motion at the speed that she chose, as long as it was forward. I set a timer. She was done by the end. 
Day 2 -- the same again. 5 minutes in each direction. A tiny bit of trotting and then mostly walking. She didn't even get warm, so I'm not too worried. But we're both going to start slow. For my benefit, I marched in place for the last five minutes. I kid you not, it was tiring enough -- that's how out of shape I am!
Tomorrow, I start a round of night shifts, so I'll have to get creative. I'll probably do a midday or morning work out tomorrow and then do mornings right when I get home the next couple of days. We will probably take Monday off because I get ~4 broken hours of sleep between Sunday at 4 and Monday night at bedtime.

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Image may contain: horse, sky, outdoor and nature Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sky, horse, outdoor and nature

Sunday, February 12, 2017

*tap tap* Is this thing on?

Wow, I've been truant with this blog before but this takes it to a whole new level. My last update was in August, and I was still crazy pregnant. Now my little guy is (as my mom put it the other day, which freaked me out) "almost half a year old". So if you didn't catch it on my Facebook page, meet Caleb. He was born September 3rd @ 8lbs, 20.5", about 36 hours after being admitted to the hospital for my induction.

My induction began on the evening of September 1st, three days after being told in an ultrasound that he would be over 9lbs at birth. I used a clinic of OBGYNs so saw a rotating roster of doctors, one of whom offered to schedule me a C-section almost immediately as he was measuring in the 98th percentile for much of my pregnancy. I felt strongly that I could deliver him vaginally and my primary care OB was on board with that. 24 hours in, I wasn't sure how happy I was with that decision, but when my body finally cooperated, dilated quickly, and I pushed him out in 13 minutes with almost no tearing and at 8lbs, I was glad I hadn't opted for the surgery. I trusted that my body could do it; while she'd gotten out of control during my pregnancy in some aspects, I knew there was a part of me that could manage this one thing. If I had had any doubts about my ability, I would have gone with the doctor's recommendation, but I had at least one professional backing me up and my own instincts as well.

They don't tell you that labor is hard but definitely not the hardest part. I love this kid like whoa. In the beginning, that was hard to grasp, emotionally speaking. I definitely had a case of baby blues, and then major anxiety. Suddenly, EVERYTHING is scary -- for your baby AND for you. You're somebody's mom and to say that I suddenly feel my mortality is an understatement. You second guess yourself about everything. I'm not used to that. For the last five years or so, I've been really confident in myself, my body, my ability and my intuition. Suddenly, everything gets thrown off kilter, by the internet, by well-meaning friends and family offering advice, by your own crazy brain.

I will say this: I am so grateful for the support I have here, between G and my parents. I didn't feel #blessed when I was pregnant but I definitely do now, and I don't know how people do it without support. I don't know how I was doing it before I broke down and let myself take advantage of that support. I really resisted in the beginning because I felt like 'other mothers' were doing it with less. But as with everything else, I had to have a little heart to heart with myself and recognize what I need and want out of life, truly, and use the resources I have around me to make that happen. And that means leaving Caleb with my mom one night a week so I can go write. It means asking her to watch him every day while I go clean stalls and just spend some time with myself.

He's a pretty serious guy, just like his daddy, but sometimes he busts out that million watt smile and I just love it. It just took forever for him to decide to do it!

Man, I hope he grows up to love horses.

Speaking of horses, everyone is doing great. The barn did get put up. Maybe not exactly what I wanted, but it's there, and everyone is pretty glad to be able to get inside out of the 'feels like' -31C weather. We didn't name the farm "Windy Pines" for nothing!

It isn't exactly how I want it (I want box stalls of course!), but it's good enough for now and it's a roof over their heads, especially for Princess Rex, who hasn't been managing the cold weather as well as I would expect. Everybody is still getting along well, and I'm eager to do some work on it in the spring to get it a little closer to what I want (electric & water in the barn, a tack/feed room and boxes!) -- though as with everything about this property, it's kind of a work in progress and I expect it'll take 5-10 years for everything to be how we want it to be. But it works for now and nobody is complaining (even G, who waded through our last big snow fall this morning to run barrels to water the stock!). 

Bronwyn is...super fluffy. But I want to ride. Badly. I think now that they are here and the baby is out, I'm beginning to realign myself with the things I need out of life and one of those things is to sit on a horse. However...that aforementioned knowledge of my mortality has definitely stepped in, along with some baby/wedding/house buying weight still on, and I don't feel very confident about doing it. I've sourced a nice, big quiet mare locally to get some practice rides on and I'd like to get myself a tiny bit more in shape (walking more at least!) before I get too much riding in. It's been since the October before I found out I was pregnant, so well over a year, since I rode -- though I am really enjoying picking stalls, filling hay feeders, etc, and putting hands on everyone every evening when I bring them in. <3 p="">

I will blog more. I can't promise it will always be about riding or the horse world in general (as I don't feel much like I've got my finger on THAT particular pulse anymore), but I will continue to share as much for myself as anything else -- and I hope you might like to follow along. <3 p="">

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Updates

Things have sure gone quickly...and soon they're going to be even busier, so I thought I would pop in and give some updates before everything gets really hectic!

Pregnancy is alright. I can't say I'm not happy for it to be ending soon. We are expecting a boy and because of my gestational diabetes (I had like, literally NO chance of not getting it since it can be because of extra weight, hormones, and family history (my mom had it with both of her pregnancies)), they plan to induce me on September 1st. MY plan is to try and get things going a little sooner. My OBGYN is on board with that. :)

Apart from the GD, which has made me feel at times like I have no agency or control over my body and how it reacts to things anymore (let's be realistic, the entire pregnancy has felt kind of like that!), the pregnancy has been healthy but my mobility has been pretty low. From mid second trimester, I've had pretty significant pelvic pain and while it went away for a very brief period and we were able to enjoy a trip away before baby got here, it's come back with a vengeance. Rolling over in bed is painful (I have much better success getting on my knees and rolling 'under'), getting out of bed is painful, getting in and out of cars is painful, sitting up at the table is painful...any great amount of walking is painful...the only thing that isn't too painful is sitting in a recliner, so I do that...a lot. I'm pretty sure the payoff at the end will make things worthwhile, I'm just anxious to GET to that payoff!

Here are a couple of pictures from our maternity shoot we did at the beginning of August. I keep looking at these pictures thinking how hugely pregnant I look then...how must I look now?! Haha!

The house is great. Having my horses right here in my yard has been wonderful. I am not always well or mobile enough to spend time with them but being able to look out the window and check on them has been great. And if I can't make it down to the paddock to look after them, there's always someone here who can.

G has been a tremendous partner through all of this. Until I got a float for my stock tank, he dutifully went out and filled the horses' water every morning. He sprays them down with fly spray (when he can catch them!), and goes with my dad to haul hay for them when needed.

We still have a few projects that need to be done before the snow flies. A few roof repairs and the biggest one--we still need to build a proper barn. We've had good intentions all summer but the mix of busy (finishing getting mom and dad out of their old house, doctor's appointments, while I was still trying to work full time, etc) and lack of funds has put that on hold. Now the hope is before October 1st, we'll at least have something framed up and even if I have to tie a horse in each corner, I'll be okay with that!

On the 'other stuff that's not really blog related but is also sort of horse related' front, my alter-ego, Amity Lassiter, the contemporary western romance author, has become a USA Today bestseller. I haven't released a new book yet because see above about busy, but I am in the homestretch and hoping to get this one out before I get the baby out, so we'll see what happens!

I know I've been pretty quiet, mostly because I feel like a lot of these things are mundane details that nobody is interested in and I feel like a dork when I share stuff that isn't riding or horse-epiphany related, but I promise that there's going to be some interesting stuff once I get back to getting Bronwyn (and myself!) in shape.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's Been A Good Week...

Admittedly, last time I checked in, I was super anxious. I have always had my horses at the old farm. Always, with the exception of the time Bronwyn spent at the boarding barn (which produced a lot of anxiety, too!). Somehow, the exact same conditions/environment, in a different locale, makes me nervous. Beyond nervous. Seriously - I have worried about everything from weather to coyotes to will they respect the fence to is there enough feed, etc.

So Ari and Jessie settled in well. Saturday morning, my dad planned to bring Bronwyn. He would load her at the old farm alone because we still had some address updating, etc, to do in town since moving to the new place. And the plan was that I would be there when he unloaded. Unfortunately, we got caught up and while I was standing in line at the grocery store picking up a few necessities, my mom tagged me on Facebook in this picture:

Not gonna lie, I totally teared up standing in the checkout line! G thought I was nutters, which was okay. I wrote it off as pregnant lady hormones. She doesn't show up very often, but occasionally, CPL (Crazy Pregnant Lady) shows up and you can't talk her out of tears, or fears, or thinking her husband is cheating on her (that one was a tough one to explain to my extremely faithful, very anti-cheating husband when he got home a little later than normal after stopping at his own brother's house to pick up some sheet rock for our impending kitchen mini-reno). So she cried in the middle of the Superstore, and that was okay too (coincidentally, we got free groceries because of a "market minute" promotion they had going on, so I could have easily been crying tears of happiness for that!). 

She unloaded and hardly even made a grump face at Ari. When I got home, they were all grazing quietly near one another. Clearly, if Ari thought that Bronwyn was a threat, she wouldn't be comfortable enough to graze a couple feet away. I watched them the rest of the day and there were the occasional 'Move! *grumpy mare face, stalks her off two steps*', but nothing serious -- nothing like what had been happening at home for the last six months every time I tried to re-integrate Ari into the herd.

So my plan worked! And it was probably better that I wasn't there to wring my hands and stress about it while it was happening. Sometimes the most important part of the equation is to take me away from it and let someone else with an outside view who doesn't spend hours obsessing over the bad things that can happen inside her mind. My parents were both there, are both competent horsepeople (I mean, I did learn almost everything I know from them!), and they read the situation as well (maybe better than!) as I could have.

Less than 12 hours later, I saw this:

And then on Sunday morning, this:

I would say my plan to trick Bronwyn into loving Ari again was a resounding success!

I was originally planning to bring Rex this weekend...but I'm still having trouble catching Bronwyn so until that is going smoothly, I think he'll stay at the farm alone. It's good for him to eat a *little* humble pie (don't worry, I won't give him too much!), and I think it will go further toward cementing my herd back the way they were before. 

I fully admit to cheating by calling them to the gate a couple of times per day and feeding treats. At this point, with the ground wet in some spots and uneven in others, and myself in as bad of shape as I am, I don't have the physical ability to push her around the field until I catch her (though I do think my fitness is improving as it's downhill a bit from the house to the paddock and if I walk out the paddock at all, I'm out of breath when I come back!), so I am okay with re-establishing our relationship with the currency she understands: food. If we were at a different place in our relationship (instead of so out of touch that I couldn't even say I've consistently seen/handled her biweekly for the last six months or so), I absolutely wouldn't do this. But right now (and especially with hubby extra nervy about me getting kicked last week!), I have to do the best with what I can, and that's lure her and bribe her. Once our working relationship is re-established, I'll have different expectations, but I do feel like I'm starting from scratch all over again at this point.

She does come in close and will eat out of the palm of my hand, but I haven't made a grab for her yet. I'd like to get to her shoulder and scratch a few times before I make an attempt to catch.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Guess What?! (And Amanda Learns A Lesson About Complacency)

Thaaaat's right! Ponies (some of them) are here at the new house. We moved in on the 23rd and my dad, bless him, has been working tirelessly to get the pasture ready. I've always said I wanted to be able to see my horses from my kitchen window...and tonight, as I was getting dinner ready, I could see them from there!

We've been having some herd dynamic issues since Ari came home in November, but I'm hoping the new land will level the playing field a bit better. So in anticipation of what issues we may have, I decided to bring Ari and Jessie, who get along well, first, and give them a chance to get comfortable with the area and the fence. We will give them a couple days and try to introduce Bronwyn on the weekend. Bronwyn will chase Ari a bit, but will stop eventually, and just make stinky eye as long as there's enough feed. We are hoping they'll assimilate into their own little herd, though.

Rex will come along a bit later. I'm hoping the combination of him being absent from 'the herd' for the week and him being alone for a week might make his introduction smoother. He is a jerk (there's a reason I refer to him as my 'pretty asshole') in the pasture and he would give pretty significant chase to Ari. If Bronwyn makes a herd with Ari and Jessie, she'll protect Ari from the outsider -- just hoping a week makes him the outsider. I prefer to have a mixed herd to minimize buddy dependency, but if I can't make that work, we'll put the two mares (siiiiiisters, they share the same sire) in a separate paddock from my two idiot children.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about selling Rex more than once this week. Based on the complications he poses to my herd dynamic and also...Tuesday, he kicked me.

It wasn't that long ago I said to G that I had never been kicked by a horse, and I worked around my own very comfortably and never worried about it. And then, of course, because I said that...

I was having Ari trimmed in the alley behind the straight stalls Bronwyn and Rex stand in. I was standing on the correct side of her with Ari between Rex and I and then the trimmer asked me to swing her butt a little bit to make it easier for her to access. Then I crossed in front of her and turned my back to Rex to ask Ari to move. I barely realized he got me until afterwards when I saw both my trimmers (my regular and her awesome apprentice) giving me the 'omg' face. He hit me in the buttcheek, thankfully, and it wasn't hard enough to even leave a bruise or a sore spot. But mark that -- the first time I've ever been kicked. It wasn't his fault - he definitely wasn't kicking AT me - he shouldn't have kicked but I also shouldn't have stood there and turned my back.

Of course, this makes G anxious. I'm 21 weeks pregnant and of course we would be devastated if anything happened to harm our unborn child. I had to remind him that this is something I've done my whole life and the reason this happened this time is because I had gotten too comfortable and wasn't paying attention. Because he's not a horse person, I get that it makes him nervous, but I reminded him to trust me - this is something I've done forever.

I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me question my ability and maybe my clarity of mind since I've been pregnant, but deep down I know I can still do this, I just have to do it smarter and eliminate as much risk as I can. And fortunately, I have mom and dad close by to help out when I need it. 

(As a side note, I had my first OB appointment today - I was worried after hearing horror stories that I would have a bad time because I've gained a pretty significant amount of weight, but the experience turned out to be way easier and less stressful than I imagined. I have been fortunate to this point to have health professionals that listen to me and trust that I know my body, but I always worry the next corner will bring me someone who sees the number on the scale and doesn't hear what I'm saying. I was pleasantly surprised. And, as the ultrasound technician last week noted, we have a crazy active baby. I told the tech the baby is practicing for rodeo - kicking their fat stubborn pony. :) ) 

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's okay to stand up for yourself.

So, in my late-night wandering of the internet (whilst killing time before I have to go home and pack my townhouse up like a madwoman because WE MOVE TO THE NEW PROPERTY THIS WEEKEND, YAAAY!), I came across something interesting. I vaguely follow a few other plus sized equestrian groups on the internet, and in one, someone posted about how the manager at the barn where they kept their horse had made remarks about their body size multiple times, including to their trainer. The boarder made it clear to the manager that the behaviour was not okay and then chose to vote with her dollars and move her horse elsewhere. Most of the responses were positive, but there was one poster who told this girl she was 'thin-skinned'.

I'm here with a newsflash: Just because you are plus-sized doesn't mean you have to 'take' any commentary you wouldn't if you replaced 'fat' with 'ugly', 'dumb', or any other derogatory remark. And it doesn't make you thin-skinned to demand the respect you deserve, to vote with your dollars or patronage, or cut poison people out of your life completely without giving them a second chance.

Nobody would find it appropriate to leave if that manager was saying to the trainer "boy, that Amanda sure is dog-faced". Nobody would tell me I was thin-skinned for calling him on that behaviour, or for commentary about my intelligence, financial status, or attractiveness. It wouldn't be considered a knee jerk reaction to discontinue my patronage to that professional for repeated, unprovoked remarks about anything besides my body size. It's generally acknowledged that those are inappropriate things for a professional involved in a business to say about clients. But there is this ingrained idea that, as the plus sized set, we should not only expect but accept commentary on our bodies. And we 'shouldn't let it get us down', ignore it and move on with our lives.

Oh, hell no.

I'm all for empowerment. Shaking off the haters. Acknowledging that some people are merely really awful people and keep on dancing. But that doesn't mean that you have to ignore their actions.

Let's go back...oh, maybe 15 years. I'm younger, softer, and less confident than I am today. I'm in a big box department store - the kind that doesn't have distinct divisions between 'straight' and 'plus sized' clothes. I'm minding my own business, flipping through jeans on a SALE rack.

An elderly man goes out of his way, cutting into the women's clothing section to speak to me. He says "Oh honey, you know none of those are going to fit you." He was right, but that didn't make it okay. I was so stunned I didn't say a thing. My mom, my hero, either overheard it or I recounted it to her moments later. She chased him down and told him, without being rude or aggressive, that what he'd said to me was unkind, unnecessary, and very rude. He was taken aback. I like to think that the next time this man thought he might dash some young teen girl's feelings, he thought about my mother calling out his behaviour.

People never change their bad behaviour if you never call them on it.

It doesn't mean you need to scream, cry, swear, or flounce (though if that's your jam, more power to you). And sometimes if you call someone out, it won't change their behaviour. But sometimes it will. In the case of the original poster mentioned above, she called out the behaviour both with her words and with her dollars.

Sometimes you won't have the energy to call out people's bad behaviour, and that's okay, too. I don't always have the energy or confidence to do it. You do what works for you in the moment, and what you are emotionally prepared for. But you need to know that you don't have to lay down and take it, even if society has convince you your body is 'lesser' or 'bad', even if your body-positivity mandate is that 'fat' isn't a bad word. And it's not thin-skinned to stand up for yourself.