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, May 27, 2011

Friday Favourites: Standardbred Placement

Guess what! It's Friday again!

The last month or so has been crazy busy in my world. We hit two big trade fairs with my mom's show clothing booth. I got to meet and visit with some blog readers/forum posters, got a home visit from a blog reader (!), and saw some gorgeous horses, bought a few neat things, and really got bit by the horse bug again. This time of year always does it to me!

But at one of the trade fairs, I was sitting across the aisle from a really great group. There was a table for the Maritime Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association, a group that acts as a middle man to bring standardbreds from the tracks and farms and into homes with people that will use them as (obviously) pleasure horses.

This particular group really appeals to be for a couple of reasons. They're making "use" of a breed that traditionally only has ONE use... and versatility is the name of the game for me - and also because I have a huge soft spot for standardbreds.

I can't remember if I have ever talked about it on the blog before, but right after graduation, I skipped town with stars in my eyes for Ontario. I couldn't wait to be out of Hicksville, Canada and figured that the "city" would satisfy me (long story short, it didn't, but....). I spent several months working for a standardbred racehorse owner. My mom's first horse was a standardbred pony type horse - but they had never occured to me as a horse of much value, to be quite honest.

I learned SO MUCH in the short time that I was there, and most of it was direct from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In the end, I came away a much richer person, knowledge and passionwise. The standardbreds I met made me think outside the box more than any horses had to that point (Bronwyn holds that title now) - I learned how to wrap well and quickly (because EVERYONE wears wraps there!), I laughed more than should be allowed (particularly at the hands of a mare named Noble Sami who was extremely demanding when it came to attention!) - I proved boys wrong (by having no problems at all harnessing and handling the "man eating colt" that I was not even allowed to muck a stall for when I first arrived) - I helped halter break and put in the jog cart for the first time a now-record holding pacer, Gold Dust Beach - I learned patience and quietness (a great horse named Potamos taught me this one).

It warms my heart to know that these little (and big!) horses with so much try, so much heart, and so much BIG PERSONALITY are being moved to pleasure horse homes where people who are not in the "industry" will have the time to appreciate them for their individual awesomeness.

We have two of these organizations in the Maritimes - the above mentioned MSPHA is a middle man to get horses from the tracks into homes, and Morningstar Acres which actually brings them in and does the necessary rehab and training to get them moved out into pleasure homes. Particularly with a recent development within the government that has pulled funding for the popular Atlantic Sires Stakes in the Maritimes, these two organizations are going to have their hands full and will need all of the support that they can get. Consider a standardbred today. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fears that don't relate to not being good enough for my horse.

Earlier today, I posted the link to this story about two horses being lifted by a tornado and deposited into a pool on the blog Facebook fanpage. It is kind of "oh, haha" funny in retrospect, but I can't even imagine the sick feeling of seeing my horses gone from my pasture following destruction like that, or having to leave them somewhere when I was forced into an emergency evacuation.

I am really fortunate where I live - we are on the East Coast of Canada:

As a general rule, nature is not our enemy. We don't live near any bodies of water, so no flooding. Not living on any major fault lines - the most recent earthquake that we could feel was perhaps a million years ago. My dad remembers one small tornado when he was a kid that knocked down the neighbour's shed and (according to my dad) sucked all the water out of the duck pond and then put it down in the same place. We're not right on the coast so most hurricanes are blown out by the time they get to us... we get some wicked winter storms but as a general rule, are very lucky when it comes to natural disasters.

A lot of what has been going on in the last little while - the tornadoes, massive earthquakes... have made me consider - what is my "emergency plan"? I take a lot for granted because we have been so lucky in the past... but I shouldn't always rest on my luck like that!

Up until last summer, we didn't have a trailer, either. For where we are located, if there were ever an emergency evacuation, the closest trailer I can think of is over 30 minutes away and they would be likely to have to evacuate, too. I have long felt uncomfortable with not having a trailer, and feel a lot better now - if I have to make emergency trips to the vet, if we have to evacuate, if we need to help somebody do the above... With that said, though - all told, we have nearly 200 head of livestock here on the farm and 1 piddly 2-horse trailer won't move everything in nearly a short enough time if we ever had to evacuate!

People say that animals are unpredictable, and I agree. However, one thing that I like about animals, as a general rule, is that they can often be reasoned with. There's a motivation - food, water, dominance, reproduction, relief of pain or threat - behind the majority of their behaviour and you can make life easier for yourself if you can provide it or at least get out of its path. Weather and nature don't have those motivations - you can't reason with it, if a tornado is coming for your town, you get out of Dodge, no questions asked, because you're not going to provide a tsunami with the food that it requires to mold the behaviour into something you desire.

My heart truly goes out to all of those who are living with the aftermath of natural disasters right now - or living in the common path of them. I think I speak for all of my readers who are more fortunate in saying that we are hoping for the best for all of you, that you stay safe and secure with no losses.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday Favourite: Jane Savoie

I know, quite technically, where I live, it's past midnight so it's not Friday anymore, but I have been going non stop since I left the office, and hey... it's the thought that counts!

As a motivator to get me writing more, even when there is not anything going on with Bronwyn and I, I want to start a weekly favourite feature... a product, website, concept, horse, person, etc... something that I LOVE. It was really convenient that someone on the forum brought this over from Facebook today (or maybe it was yesterday, the days are blurring together!). It takes many points that I try to make on a regular basis and sums them up in one nice, easy to read commentary... So without further ado... from Jane Savoie's Facebook Fanpage... something for all of you ladies out there who aren't riding right now, or are second guessing yourselves at every turn - a letter from Moshi, the horse:

Weight. There, I said it. Human society is incredibly obsessed with body size. How many people don’t ride or stopped riding because they think they are too fat? How many people hide their talents and abilities behind a wall of shame because of their BMI (Body Mass Index)?

When I hear people talking about weight issues, it makes me so glad I’m a horse! We are expected to have a big, round “hip” and be well fleshed. Unless you’re a racehorse, it’s perfectly okay to be plump. In fact, we are “fattened up” for halter classes and viewed as healthier when we have some meat on our bones. Why aren’t people like that? I hear it’s mostly because of movies, TV, and magazines. Back when food was scarce and only the rich were plump, “Rubenesque” women were all the rage. But now that food is abundant for almost all people, you’re expected to be waif thin and wrinkle free if you want to be “in.” The media perpetuates this ideal simply by glorifying the skinny and the young.

I understand there are health ramifications for being obese, but that’s not the point here. Plump is normal for a lot of people. Your hormones, genetics, age, and body structure have a whole lot to do with what is normal and healthy for YOU as an individual. You can be very fit and still look “fat” based on what you’ve been conditioned to believe. Are you one of those who stopped doing what you love in life because you don’t fit the Hollywood ideal?

Horses are incredibly strong. Light riding has a lot more to do with balance and technique than what a bathroom scale says about you. You can be overweight by today’s standards and still be very comfortable for your horse to carry.

If you want to make some changes, decide to be as fit as you can so you can ride well. Decide you’re going to be strong and healthy, no matter what you weigh. Exercise with the idea of being fit, not simply with the goal of being thin, and you will find a different kind of inspiration to keep going. If you’re one of those whose nerves I’ve just agitated, please know that I do understand how painful this issue might be. You just have to put your focus on your successes and not concentrate on the mental feedback loop that says you’re not okay. You ARE okay, just as you are! If anyone says anything different, it’s their problem, not yours.

I realize this is a very prickly subject for many people, but I want you to know that the “Scarlet F” need not stop you from living life to the fullest. Take a deep breath, recognize your worth, and realize that extra pounds do NOT decide you who you are. Get out there and ride your horse! He can carry you!

Love, Moshi

With that said, I am going to take a snooze. It's been a long week, and I have a full day ahead tomorrow. Topping that list would be dislodging the resident pig from my horse trailer and combing the summer paddock for the halter that Bronwyn has already lost twice! Have a great long weekend, everybody. :)