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!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Show Update: ETSA Show, August 28th, 2010

Well, I survived!

Wow, was this ever... something else. It had been about seven years since I had last shown a horse - and that would have been Angel, my palomino and white APHA mare that I lost four years ago to the day on August 28th, the day I was showing Bronwyn. I think there was a big bunch of emotion kind of causing trouble, which is the big reason why I was so nervous, but it fortunately disguised itself as nerves and excitement instead of grief so I managed to make my way through the weekend without too much trouble.

First of all, I need to say - my sister is great. She is 17, for those who I haven't already drilled that into a bajillion times, and I have to say she is one of my best friends. We are so alike that she can usually tell what is going on in my brain - so when she volunteered to stay with me overnight, I was stoked.

I ended up having a wild and crazy week (my best friend of TWENTY YEARS (holy cow, we're getting old!) was visiting from far-far-away and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible) and so was completely unprepared come Friday morning to go show the next day. My horse hadn't been bathed in three weeks (!! When you show paints, which I used to do, bathing the night before a show is verrrrrrrry important!), I had absolutely NOTHING packed. By the sheer graciousness of her wonderfulality (yes, I made that one up on my own), she agreed to pack my things so that I could just wrap my horse, load and go once I got home from work Friday night. I sent her a list (her: "this is NOT A SHORT LIST!" me: "Did I say it was a short list? Sorry!") and she laundered, folded, packed, loaded and rolled (bandages!) all day while I was at work. When I got home, all I had to do was put on my boots, wrap my horse and load her.

So, I put on my sneakers, wrapped my horse, and loaded her. (Do you see something missing here?)

Annnywhoo... she gave me a little trouble loading (granted, this was only her second trip out), which was only exacerbated by the fact that I was supposed to meet my farrier at 8:30 to trim her feet up a little to make them look spiffy, but we eventually got her on, my dad in the truck, myself and Shay in the van and we headed out. She hauled easy, like she did last time - she's actually a lot more levelheaded than I often give her credit for - and unloaded easily. Even though it was dark when we landed, she was relatively quiet and at ease - not terrorized. Farrier rasped her feet down and shaped them up for me, and we put her into her stall.

It was her first experience with an open top stall, and the first box stall she had been in in a while - so naturally, I was anxious - was she going to try to jump out over the door? Was she going to spook and freak and tread all night?

I started to relax when she finally felt comfortable enough to poke her head over the door and watch the goings-on - she was really zen - dad thought we ought to have the top door closed but I thought it much better for her to be able to look around and take her surroundings in. When she got zen, I started to get zen! (Thank goodness!)

Originally, we had planned to pitch our tent and sleep in the tent but ended up getting an extra stall and sleeping next door to her on an air mattress - it was the only way I could sleep well, and I slept light, heard everything she did, but felt satisfied knowing that I was right there in case anything happened. The next morning, we got up bright and early to find that Bronwyn wasn't as dirty as I had thought and I could make do with just washing her tail and taking a damp shammy to her hooves, thank goodness!

And so this was the turnout:

(Not too shabby if I do say so myself! The horse, I mean!)

We were entered in halter mares, which was the first class, and open showmanship (I realized after the fact that I probably could have entered novice instead of open and not been against, oh, you know, professionals!). I didn't expect anything out of the halter class as it was also an intro QH show, which means open classes AND pointed AQHA classes, all judged by an AQHA judge. Very graciously, the judge used Bronwyn and put her 5th of 7, above even a QH! (The only other non-stock horse was a percheron/QH cross!)

(with our snazzy 5th place ribbon!)

Besides not being able to set up too quickly, and giving me quite a lot of trouble right up until the point that the judge came to inspect, she was really well behaved - the proximity to the other horses didn't bother her and she trotted out and walked alongside as I asked (she has a tendency to enjoy walking single file behind me when I give her the option). I didn't expect a ribbon, but it was a nice touch! Unfortunately, they didn't have the horse names/numbers, so they just called by number and they didn't announce her rad show name (The Bee's Knees).

Our next class was showmanship. I notoriously hate showmanship because pattern classes like that depend on the handler and I have never given myself much credit as far as polish and snazz go.

Yes, she bent in my 180, and yep, I actually had her stood up that way for inspection, and I still managed a 3rd out of 7. They combined this class with an AQHA class, so they called two placings and when I was not in the open placings, I left the ring. Shortly thereafter, the steward came running up to tell us it had been an error (I was not upset about not placing, I felt like I was a hot mess in there, but I was disappointed that they never got to announce Bronwyn's show name over the loudspeaker!), and I had actually placed 3rd. I felt bad for the people I bumped out, but... um... hello, ribbon! :-D Haha.

After that, we puttered around in the warmup ring under saddle - Bronwyn did not think that the cannibalistic horse wearing a hood was funny, no matter how humorous I found it to be. Then she cooled out, we loaded up and she jumped right on the trailer, much to my delight. Trailered home like a pro. All of my nerves were useless - she was an absolute superstar!

Sunday, we went for a nice, relaxing trail ride with Shay and she got a bath... have I mentioned lately that I love my horse?

But the big moral of this story is that... even after 7 years off... even being a hot mess with a horse that's not the "right breed" and a body that doesn't quite fit in (check out that showmanship lineup, man was I out of place!)... you can still have a freaking blast - I hope everyone has these same kinds of local open shows you can go to and show and HAVE FUN at. If not, find them!

Friday, August 20, 2010


August 28th.

I realized today as I filled out and mailed the entry forms for the horse show I am going to attend with Bronwyn on August 28th that it will be four years since I lost Angel on that day. I know I have talked about Angel before on the blog... it is hard for me to convey the level on which I am still stirred when I think of her. In fact, I'm fighting a few tears here at my desk at work right now.

When I lost Angel, I went looking for someone to replace her. At first, I told myself I would train and then sell Bronwyn because no horse could ever take the place of Angel. Eventually, B taught me that there is room for the both of them in there, and the thought of losing Bronwyn tears me as much as the feeling of having lost Angel.

I think it will be a fitting tribute to Angel that I should show my first show since I lost her on that date. It will be my first show in 7 years, it will be Bronwyn's first show ever. We are entered in halter mares and showmanship at this point in time. We may post enter for English pleasure if we can make her canter pleasurable between now and then (it was getting pretty good last night) and the stars align with a borrowed hunt coat. My biggest goal for this is experience - for her to get out there and experience the bustle of the show grounds, for her to spend her first night "away" from home since I got her. If we don't show under saddle, I plan to ride her around the grounds just to get her used to that, too.

With all of that said... sometimes I wish that I could be something MORE for you readers. I wish that I had some kind of real talent or skill, that Bronwyn was some kind of amazing horse and that we were at the top levels of competition so I could inspire. I grapple between feeling bad about that, and then alternately thinking "You know, I am going through the same things that most of my readers are going through, and it's nice for them to know I'm going through it with them rather than looking down from a higher spot at them."

I still struggle with my horse and my emotions, the realistic economical challenges of owning and enjoying horses, as well as everything else that goes with it. I think the majority of my readers find themselves there, too. I relate to so many of the great stories and posts we have in our forum. I love you guys.

I'm not very coherent, either. Oh bother!

Monday, August 16, 2010

More housekeeping...

I promise I will have a "real" entry here soon! In the meantime, I wanted to mention a couple of things!

Many of you who know me on Facebook and on the forum already saw this information, but I took Bronwyn to her first parade on Saturday! She hasn't been off the farm since I got her three years ago, and this was a local community parade that took off not far from home - so I walked her to the event (even though we have a new-to-us trailer we have yet to christen with it's first ride, see below!), in the parade and back.

She did GREAT. I was soooo pleased, and we won 2nd out of 6 in the horse division, and beat a cute kid on a pony with dixie cups sewn into her mane. I did put some thought/effort into my presentation, though. The theme of the parade was "Colour Your World"... what do you do with a BLACK horse that needs to be colourful? Why, dress it up as a My Little Pony, of course!

And - the loot! We won a Calgary Flames tshirt, and coupons for an ice cream sandwich & bag of chips at the fair, as well as a free A&W root beer. Do I now get to say I own a prize winning horse? LOL!

About the trailer! It was a complete twist of fate - most who know me know I have been on the hunt for something for a long time but my budget is very tight and it is hard to have appropriate trailer + money + time all in the same place at once... we stopped by per chance to visit an old friend of ours from the horse world and about a week later, came home with this:

It's not much, but it means I no longer have to live in horsey exile - so when we plan for a show, we can now go to one! (And psst, we have one planned for the 28th, which I will appear at, come hell or high water!) We live about 30 minutes from anyone else with horses and aren't on the way to anything else, so trailering costs minimum $75-$100, usually more. Finally, I can just say "hey, let's hit the trail in the next town" and be able to do it!

And last but DEFINITELY not least, I guest blogged this week at my friend/cousin/sister (I don't know what to call her but I love her dearly!)'s blog. She is in the process of starting up a really cool women's gallery and meeting space in Toronto... it is an admirable and super inspiring project and she had guest bloggers all month. I blogged on Saturday the 14th. You can check it out here:

That's Women's Work, Inc

Have a good week, guys! I will be back with something, soon - I PROMISE!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ride-A-Day Challenge & Housekeeping

A couple of little housekeeping things!

I am so, so, so, SO excited to have a new, “permanent” home for the forum – it can now be found at http://www.afatgirlafathorse.com/forum - how exciting to have a .com to play with! Eventually, we will have the blog moved over onto the .com and we can go from there – there are so many options open to us, it’s exciting! None of this could have been made possible without my dear friend, photographic guru, general internet/website design goddess, Jill Renton of Scuffed Boots, who is also responsible for the beautiful professional photos I have posted here!

As for the forum – yes, you will have to sign up again, yes, all of our posts are gone, and yes, I am still planning to trim the accounts that don’t make any posts in order to keep us safe and comfortable. But also – NO, we won’t have any ads and NO, we won’t have to worry about downtime with no backups.

On to other things…

The Ride-A-Day Challenge!

I talked about this a bit in the forum but I have never really had the opportunity to elaborate. I realized a few days ago that I really have a wealth of resources in my hands – I have not one, but THREE horses to ride (I also have a completed 90,000 word romantic suspense manuscript that is so ready for someone to take it and publish it!), and I’m not doing anything about it (nor the manuscript). So, hand-in-hand, I am launching the “Query-A-Day” and “Ride-A-Day” challenge to myself, and to anyone else who wants to follow along (for the Ride-A-Day, anyways – I realize you can’t send query letters to agents without a manuscript, or, you know, an idea for a book!).

The parameters of the challenge are such – I need to at least SIT on a horse’s back five times per week. Ideally, I would be riding and working a horse SEVEN days a week, but I commute 1 hr each way to work and am gone 12+ hours out of the day, plus work a job on the weekends… so I have to allow myself something here or there to recover! If I ride twice in one day, I can use that “extra” ride at another point during the same week to count as a ride when I might need a day off.

Right now, things are a little difficult because Ari is out of commission (stone in her frog turned into abscess and she’s just blown off a big chunk of her frog – she’s on the way toward better, though!), and Rex is… well, not broke. As far as broke horses, I have the two options of Bronwyn and then my sister’s little mare, Jessie. SURELY, in a barn of FIVE riding sized and aged horses, I can find SOMETHING to ride any given day of the week!

I don’t know how long I will be carrying on the challenge or if I might change anything, but I am inviting my forum readers and my blog readers to participate and challenge yourself, within what is reasonable, to ride as often as you can. Maybe we’ll make t shirts!

With that said, I thought I would share a picture or two of some of my rides this last week.

Saturday morning, I decided to try bareback + “bridleless” (technically just bitless as it was a rope halter with reins attached!)… just to see if I could. Granted, it was just in the roundpen, but my mare didn’t go too bad for a green broke mess!

Also, a shot of the new saddle I am currently trying out… it is much better than what I had, so the plan is to keep it for now (because I can trade my mom’s work for it as well) and save up money for something better. We have always handled our horses (through the purchase of different bloodlines to incorporate into our breeding program, our equipment, showing, etc) on the philosophy that you buy the best you can afford and continue to upgrade, providing what you’re using is not detrimental. So… the saddle doesn’t quite fit me, but it fits me BETTER than my last one, and it fits Bronwyn a LOT better than the last one, and if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have a saddle at all – and wouldn’t be able to put the work into her that she needs, and riding isn’t a possibility at all because she is obese… and that is that. Meanwhile, saving my pennies for something else!