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, April 13, 2012

Friday Favourite: Research!

I gotta say... I was quite delighted to see this on my Facebook feed earlier this week, posted on the Riding Light Facebook fan page. Click to enlarge and read the text!

This is what Kris said about it:
I've heard that rider balance is more important than rider weight, but I wanted to PROVE it. So yesterday I completed an experiment. I rented an Infrared Thermographic camera and had two very different sized riders ride the same horse in the same saddles at the same gait for the same amount of time. There was 100 pounds of difference between the riders. The heavy rider rode relaxed and in balance, and the lighter rider intentionally rode stiff, crooked, and out of balance.

Check out more Riding Light.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Guest Blog: "You're too fat to ride"

Our guest blog today is written by Bernadette who writes Green Bean Express, go on over and have a read!


Five years ago, almost six now, I decided that for my 30th birthday I was going to do all of those things that I had always wanted to do as a child, but due to geographic limitations and financial constraints I never had an opportunity to do; riding and fencing. Fencing I hated. Riding, on the other hand, I knew was going to be opening up Pandora's box as I have always loved horses. I started riding shortly after Christmas and the weather around here can be oddly bipolar; one day it can be 70 and sunny and the next it can be 20 and snowing.

Now, dairy barns I know having grown up in dairy country. Horse barns, on the other hand, I knew little to nothing about so I had no earthly idea of what I was looking for in a good barn. I did my research and the facility I found seemed to be on the up and up so I signed up for their Introduction series. If I only knew then what I know now......During my 4th lesson I was placed on a horse that had never actually been through a training program. The owner just purchased him and threw him into the lesson program (again, I did not know this until later). It was a cool 35 degree night and the wind was hallowing through the indoor. We were working on learning to post and, well, said horse decided that he had had enough of what I was doing and decided to pick up his canter down the long wall in the arena. Did I mention this was my 4th lesson? You can see what's coming can't you? Not only did I come off, but I came off in a blaze of glory; hitting the ground, knocking the wind out of me, and scaring the bejesus out of me in the process. I got my lungs back, picked myself up, caught the horse, got back on, and finished my lesson. Dammit, I paid for the time and I was going to get my time.

After the completion of the lesson the instructor held me back and said to me, "You are too fat to ride. You should really think about taking up a different hobby." Say what?! Now, I will fully admit that I am fluffy. I will also admit that I have struggled with my weight my entire life to include some time as a bulimic when I was in the service and struggling to conform to their weight standards. At that time I was down 70 pounds from my heaviest weight (now it's a bit more). On top of that, I will proudly declare that I am half the size of my mother and I work every day to increase that margin. However, she didn't know any of that. All she saw was a big girl.

Needless to say, among other reasons, I dropped that barn and found a new instructor. Five years later I am still riding. I work my rear end off in the gym, on the metro, heck even at my desk doing things that I know are going to improve my riding. My entire body shape has changed because of my riding and I feel the best about myself I have felt ever. Am I still green, yes. Could I still stand to loose weight, yes. Am I still working on it every single day, oh heck yes, especially now.

Why now? As of St. Patrick's Day 2012, this girl who was too fat to ride got her very own pony. Oh yeah, and she is a big girl too! An 16.1hh OTTB named Cora who is built like a warm blood and hates caloric expenditure (which is probably why she didn't make it as a race horse). She and I are on a journey together, one calorie at a time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You shouldn't believe everything that you read on the internet...

My boyfriend and I have just finished watching season 1 of Game of Thrones (hey, it IS horse related!) and during the course of it, I began telling my boyfriend that our dog, Morrie (who is a miniature Australian shepherd) is a dire wolf... well, a baby dire wolf, since he's pretty small. He maintained I was not telling the truth until I lamented to my friend that he wouldn't believe it until it was in print and then, poof!, Wikipedia's article on dire wolves briefly (while my computer conveniently melted down so I could not screen cap it for posterity) mentioned that they are extinct "(except for Morrie)". And then, as quickly as it was there, it was gone. And the truth is (and I will ONLY admit this here because my boyfriend CLAIMS he doesn't read the blog!) that Morrie is not actually a dire wolf, even though I read it, IN WRITING, on the Internet!

Heck, I am pretty sure there are still people out there wondering about "Fiona", Bronwyn and Rex's love child from 2010 (I'll be a long time waiting for THAT foal, since Rex no longer has eligible parts!)... because they read it on the INTERNET.

I am incredibly gullible, I will admit to it. Though I might have a niggling in the back of my mind that you're pulling my leg when you tell me something far-fetched, I have this overwhelming sense of respect/consideration which seems to over-ride even my sense of self preservation by times (ask me about the time that I rolled down my window to talk to an angry looking man who got out of his car at a red light to yell at me for "burning a red light" (whatever that means, by my estimation, I made a legal right turn on red and he was nowhere in sight when I did it)). If I believe you to be the sort of person who does not regularly tell lies, I will most likely take what you say at face value until it is proven otherwise. Because that's just how I roll.

The thing about the Internet is... a lot of people have a lot to say, sometimes more than they would say in person. The Internet leaves a lot of room for speculation and anonymous insults, and other things that, when you head in that direction, can be an extremely slippery slope. I have to say that I am still always surprised that, even though on the Internet, you have the chance to fully investigate, get all your ducks in a row and THEN make a comment that you may or may not be able to take back, people still say some pretty crazy, ridiculous things. After all, sometimes things live on the Internet for EONS.

Since I started writing this blog, I remind myself every single day - when I write a new entry, or when I check the Facebook fan page, or when I get a notification of a new comment - that there is rarely an in-between when it comes to this subject matter. People love it and support it or people hate it and insult it. There is rarely an in-between (or at least, I don't hear about many) and fortunately, the former far outnumbers the latter. Occasionally, someone is so offended, not by the fact that I am writing about plus sized riders, but by the fact that I am riding at all, and that I am torturing my horse, that they see fit to make a comment.

That's fine - I mean, I put this material out there, publicly - I need to expect some feedback once in a while that isn't all wonderful and friendly like the lovely and kind comments I got when I was featured on Horse Nation just yesterday (now there are some words on the Internet that I encourage you to believe, haha!). But it's incredible the things that people "say" when they think that they are advocating for something. And let me just say - despite what some of the negative comment-leavers choose to believe - I have not deleted one unkind comment - from my blog or Youtube or Facebook. If someone wants to say something, I feel like they are entitled to say it - the same way I am entitled to write this entry and poo-poo on it or reply to their comment, advising them of the actual truths. And I'll let it stand - because I feel like they should own it - and I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen. Good or bad.

Whoo, I am getting off on a bit of a tangent here. All of this was to talk about this particular Youtube video that I posted over a year ago while I was participating in a Youtube vlogging community. I have posted 32 videos so far on that Youtube channel and for some reason, unknown to me, this video has gotten 50,000 more views than any other video that I have posted on Youtube. The comments run the gamut, but I thought I would share some of my favourites:

Actually, you know what... I'm not going to bring that negativity to light. I'm sure anybody out there who has ever admitted, online, to being a plus sized rider has seen the type of comments that I am thinking of. Not only are there rambling diatribes about cruelty to the horse, but additionally all of the inferences that because you are fat, there cannot possibly be anything else good or redeeming about you, that you are clearly lazy and unmotivated, and should stop stuffing yourself with "Doritos and ice cream" (honest to God, real comment I got, on the blog, I think... I had to LITERALLY LOL because I DO love Doritos and ice cream but I can count on two hands the number of months since the last taste of Doritos I had, though I do usually have a stock of frozen yogurt in my freezer which I engage in about twice a week (and dutifully track on my calorie counter)) - as if it were that simple, as if the commenter has been inside of your life, as if the fact that you are carrying extra weight completely overshadows any other personality trait that you might have, as if the negative commentary changes everything. People seem to forget that if you are overweight, you generally already know it, you don't need to be reminded.

But the fact of the matter is... all of these words, these letters on screens - they do not determine your value as a human being, your right to dream and to do and to be generally wonderful. Some of the demeaning things you read on the Internet (on a very public blog, even, earlier this month!) are quite simply put - GARBAGE. Just because it is in print does not mean that it's true. Discerning the truth that you know from that which others try to impose on you based on the very small amount of information that they know about you is not always an easy task but I can tell you that having a strong sense of your own truths and your own abilities and value, without taking into consideration the opinions of people who may not know anything about you besides the fact that you don't "look" like the picture of an equestrian - that is a completely worthwhile and valuable ability to have.

At the end of the day, there have been a million, million times more GOOD comments, emails and messages and Facebook photos that have made writing this blog worthwhile, while I am, on occasion, accused of abusing my horse, and having absolutely no regard for her welfare. And you know, even one of those good comments, emails or messages overrides the senseless drivel I occasionally have to put up with. Don't feel sorry for me! I am 100% humbled by most of the messages of hope and support and gratitude that I receive. Most often, I think that I am just little old me and don't deserve the thanks - I am just writing about my little old life and sharing truths about plus sized riders, afterall - it's no new information! But I appreciate it. And as long as there is one person out there who believes what I write above the anonymous negativity commentary about your worth as a human being because of the weight that you may carry, writing this blog will always be 100% worth writing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going out to ride Fiona!