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!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Getting Caught Up

So, it's been just about a month since I moved Bronwyn.

It has been different, for sure. Just when I got used to having her close enough to take it for granted that I can just jaunt out to the barn, we have to plan a whole day around me going to the farm to visit her. As we only have the one vehicle, I have to pack up the dog, drop my boyfriend, G, off at work at 2pm, drive the 45 minutes to the farm, and be back by 10:30pm to pick him up. In amongst that, there is, of course, all the visiting and socializing that goes along with going "home" at any given time!

She trailered well and after Rex's initial I'm-a-"stallion"-protecting-my-herd-of-mares mode and a few scrapes (my poor Bean is no longer the top of the pecking order, clearly!), they all settled in and she is already packing on pounds from the good hay and (now) lush grass pasture. *sigh* All that hard work!

I have been able to get out about once a week since then - once or twice, I stayed overnight so had two full days in a row to spend with the two critters. I haven't schooled her yet, as I really don't have much of a spot to do it (I do have a section of flat grass but I would like to fence it in) but we have spent a few hours re-discovering the trails around the farm. There has been a lot of cutting in the woods around the homestead, which stinks for trees and foliage but kind of rocks for trails - they've had to build wide, steady roads into the woods, which sure beats the rocky, crumbly downhill slides in some of the places where I used to ride! In a few years, there will be some greenery back there and they'll be perfect riding trails. For now, they are hot and dusty. Either way, though, B and I have enjoyed some (mostly, except for my singing of country music at the top of my lungs) quiet time together in the woods before the bugs get so bad that you want to crawl out of your skin.

Another thing I've seen that this gives me an opportunity for is to play with Rex. The poor boy has been attended to physically - fed and watered and feet trimmed (but admittedly not as frequently as they should be), and sheltered... but he has basically had no criteria his whole life. I pick him up to do something with him every once in a while but usually run out of time or ambition before he learns too much. Anyways - I started lunging him and working on some ground work for respect - he can be a bit naughty when he gets trimmed because he knows I can't do much with the trimmer under his feet.

On the topic of trimmers - over the winter months, as I was an hour on the other side of home from my normal trimmer, I ended up finding someone new (I can't remember if I mentioned this already or not) - she does a barefoot performance trim. I will be the first to admit, a lot of this "natural horsemanship" stuff  makes me kind of skeptical, but I was sold after a couple of trims from her. Bronwyn's feet look fantastic -- and when I took her home and compared her feet to Rex's, I realized how much he would benefit - for a couple of reasons - 1) she keeps me on a pretty strict schedule instead of just calling the trimmer when the stars align and they need it + I can afford it + I am available, and 2) his feet are little, and right now, his frogs quite contracted. I don't believe that traditional farriery is BAD for all horses, but he makes a clear case FOR the barefoot performance trim, so we're going to give it a shot. He also had some thrush, which we're onto treating, and I've added some supplements to his feed to try to get a "bloom" on him before I put him to REAL work and ride him some this summer. It sure would be nice to have 2/2 horses riding - and possibly something for a guest to ride so I don't have to ride alone all the time!

Overall, there is no regret to the move back to the farm. You do what you have to do to get the job done. On the one hand, maybe I sound selfish because I won't allow horse ownership to put my goals for the rest of my life on a backburner - and I keep them relatively "cheap" at the farm compared to most - but in the long run, this will be better for the horses and better for me. It also gives me an opportunity to run my dog off leash and see my family so that sure doesn't hurt either!

Oh and one more thing! I am a bit closer to this fella:

Don't mind me, LOL. Or him! He has been out of work since August but his owner has asked me to come around a bit so she can get him rode. I suspect I will end up trailering Bronwyn and/or Rex over there every once in a while to ride with her once the summer actually arrives. Splash is a registered Appaloosa, and he rides like a freaking dream, even "rusty" after some time off. Super light mouth and responds well to leg and an absolute "pleasure horse" - it is a nice change! I sure wish Bronwyn moved like him!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why It's OKay To Be Fat

I sometimes feel like I have two different personalities.

The first one looks at herself in the mirror and says "You are good. You are beautiful. You are worthy. Your value is not measured by the number in the back of your pants or on the scale. This body is a good body." This one strides confidently through the grocery store in breeches and tall boots and a little bit of horse snot on my shirt. She gets on her big horse and goes into the woods for a couple of hours and doesn't think there is a thing wrong with it. This one feels confident and in control when she is only wearing a bra and panties (or less, even!) in front of her boyfriend.

The first one doesn't care what other people thinks, she thinks she is pretty awesome. When people talk about seeing "gross" people on the street, she gets indignant and shouts from the rooftops that as long as she is healthy, it is not HER responsibility to be attractive enough for someone else's eyes. She thinks that she would be just fine in a bikini at her glorious current 256lbs at the beach and sometimes she thinks about not shaving her legs.

That one gets to exist for a vast majority of the time. She writes this blog, in fact. I would say probably 80% of the time, she is alive and kicking, and happy.

The second one trips her whenever she gets the chance. Fortunately, the first one is pretty sure-footed and usually just keeps trucking - but once in a while... once in a while, she lands on her knees and the second personality jumps on her back and holds her down.

The second one doesn't seem that bad on first glance. She almost seems like she is helpful, at first - trying to look out for her own best interests. She wouldn't want anyone to be embarrassed. She will look at herself in the mirror and say "You're alright, but you would look really good if you lost another 40lbs." She goes out to eat and thinks to herself "You should pick a healthier food choice - because even though you've been eating well for the last x days and this is a time for a treat of something you enjoy, those people watching you are going to make assumptions about your level of health and motivation." - sometimes when she is at the gym or otherwise working out, she reminds herself that people are probably judging her for "getting to the state you're in" in the first place, and criticising her form. Sometimes, in those cases, she thinks it might just be better to not exercise because then people can't criticize her silently in their minds.

She doesn't think she should go to the beach in a bikini because "nobody needs to see that", and she hesitates before she undresses for bed with her boyfriend in the same room because "what if he doesn't find this body attractive after two and a half years?". She gets on the scale obsessively, several times per day, sometimes, to see if she has lost even an ounce - because that, that is success - more than her physical fitness or good food choices or overall health - and when she has, she celebrates, and when she doesn't, she says "you are going to try harder" - she sometimes uses the mantra "hard work. dedication." when she fails to make herself feel like when she fails she has been lazy and undedicated.

She sometimes operates under the guise of self love but at the end of the day, the only thing that comes out of her mouth is criticism. She just wants to fit in - to fly under the radar and not experience any critical eyes, and she is her own worst enemy.

And when I read about Health At Every Size and Radical Self Love and Healthy Is The New Skinny, the first personality embraces it, rolls in it, RUNS with it. She loves it - she thrives on the idea that if she takes care of herself, and she doesn't lose weight, that is perfectly okay. The second one says "but what will people think?". She has read too many trash magazines bashing this actress or another for gaining TEN POUNDS. She has heard too much talk about the "obesity epidemic", and the tricks and turns you can make to be skinny - like skinny is the only thing worth being (I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it just ain't gonna happen for this body!). She worries that if she lets the first personality take over completely and doesn't qualify her existence with excuses about how she is "working on it" or "losing weight" then people will think she is lazy or slovenly or that she doesn't try hard enough or care about herself - when we both know, in reality, that letting the first personality take over is caring about herself.

And that is just how those two personalities feel about the physical - the emotional is a WHOLE 'nother story.

I have been training the first personality - she was not so sure footed before. The division of time I spent being one personality or the other used to be a lot more even - more like 50/50, and for a brief part of my late teens and early twenties, it was more like 20/80 in favour of the second personality. The problem is that the first personality is not  invincible all of the time. She doesn't pay as much attention, but she does see the trash magazines and the media, she hears society telling her she is lesser because she is greater from time to time. Most of the time, she can ignore it, but sometimes it distracts her and that is when the second personality finds it so easy to trip her up. So when I found this video, my first personality took heed.


I found this gem on a friend's Facebook profile today, and I think it's brilliant. I think this needs to be mandatory viewing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Japanese Study On Weight Bearing

I know I frequently ask myself "how much is too much?" when riding. A Japanese study done recently has some new figures and measured not by fatigue but, interestingly, by gait.


At 100 kilograms (220 pounds), the horses showed a significant lack of symmetry as represented by uneven peaks in the acceleration readings. In order to leave a safety margin for tack, equipment, and clothing, Matsuura said he and his colleagues recommend keeping weight load under 100 kilograms for these horses.

“In light of the safety of the rider and horse, we speculated that 100 kilograms, which is 29% of body weight, is an appropriate weight for the maximum permissive load weight,” he said.

Thoughts? Comments?

Friday, May 17, 2013

The problematic problem...

Don't worry, it's not Bronwyn - she is just fine - packing on the pounds and living a luxurious pasture-pony life at the round bale. The problem is people-related.

It seems funny that it comes so naturally on how you would approach a horse to "talk about" a problem or dislike or issue, but when it comes to people... oooh, it's a lot different.

Recently, I went to the MQHA Equine Review (which is an annual horse expo/trade fair for those of you in the Atlantic Canadian region that might be interested!) with my mom and her booth of show clothing and my custom rhinestone saddle pads and other odds and ends. I love this event because I get to see a lot of my friends who I otherwise can only keep in touch with via the internet - because everyone comes from all around to take in demos, clinics and shopping among other things. It is a nice chance to blow the stink of winter off of ya and get itchy to get in the saddle if you haven't already been in it this season.

This would actually be an awesome place to network for the blog and the community that I am enjoying building around it - lots of traffic, lots of riders of all shapes and sizes. I would love to talk to ALL of these people who think they are alone out there when they rifle through the rack of Wranglers at one of the many tack shops or the breeches at another and find that there is nothing there that will fit them and let them know that they are not alone. I'd like to talk to those people who think that I shouldn't ride a horse because I'm plus sized. I'd like to have frank discussions with professionals about the challenges facing us as a general population... but it is difficult to start that conversation with someone. I wore my AFG&AFH hoodie around most of the weekend, and then my Easy Keeper shirt - it did spark some conversation about the blog (including one awesome person who didn't even realize that it was me!), and a definite lead in. I also overheard someone complaining about not being able to find a tall boot for her large calves and promoted Fuller Fillies (which had no shops carrying it there, sadly!).

 But... because the matter of weight is so sensitive for so many people, I don't feel that it is appropriate to walk up to somebody and start chatting about it - because the implication is "I think you're fat enough to appreciate this." and for some people, that word fat is so offensive (which I think is a really terrible way to have to live, and I lived that way for many, many years, but that is a whole other diatribe in itself).

So it's a conundrum. Sometimes I see people who seem to be so frustrated and feel alone but I don't feel like it is appropriate to approach them and say "hey, there is this community out there...". I would love to take an information booth but unfortunately, the site does not really run as a "for profit" site and I could not really justify the expense to take the materials and pay the booth fee since there wouldn't be any return. I am hoping, if I have the time off work, to take Bronwyn next year and do a clicker training demo with her - I would then be able to wiggle some promo for AFG&AFH in there, I think. Again, though, it is an out of pocket expense to take her there.

Just as a general poll, in the comments - would you be offended if someone approached you to talk to you about a plus sized rider's community? How would you like to be approached about this kind of thing? Or would you be interested to see an information booth about it?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And the winner is....

The winner of our contest is #11, SHARI - with her story of her sweet Coni:

Entry # 11 from Shari:

My heart is broken, a raw wound inside of my chest, I lost my sweet Coni on Aug 23, after too short of a battle for her life. This is our story:

On a bright Sunday morning in 1980, my mare Peni Fadda was heavy with foal. I checked her before heading to church ( it was my sister's confirmation Sunday) and low and behold, Peni was waxed up! I couldn't wait to get home from the service thinking I would see a baby that I had waited so long for! After church I scrambled out to the barn, no foal... I brought Peni inside to a nice clean box stall my grandpa and I had fashioned just for this occasion. No sooner had I put her inside and Peni went immediately into labor. Soon a perfect chestnut filly was born! Coni had tons of visitors that day since everyone was eager to see the newborn foal, ( I think this is why she liked people so very much, all that socialization...) Coni was named in honor of her birthdate, Confirmation.... who knew??

Every morning before school, I would head up to the barn to let Peni and Coni out on the lawn for some grazing, Coni loved to run and buck and jump and drive her mamma nuts with her antics.

Her formative years were fairly uneventful, I trained her to drive as a 2 yr old, and started her under saddle as a 4 yr old, she was a dream to ride, so smooth so energetic... We spent a lot of time just riding around the neighborhood.

In 1988 before moving to another city many miles from home, my little brother and I went on an adventure, our parents hauled our horses and all our supplies to a local state park 16 miles from home, we camped out for the weekend, enjoyed the time with our horses. We took them swimming and then trail rode until evening, then after bedding them down would make our supper and sleep in our little pup tent. We packed up our supplies and headed for home at the end of our weekend, it was a very long ride for a little 7 yr old boy, and by the end he was completely beat, but we did it! Our grand adventure!

I rode Coni on many trail rides put on by our local saddle club, and one of the old timers there told me they were taking bets to see how long I would be able to stay on my horse, see Coni had developed some of her mother's habits, she didn't like the reins held too tight and would shake her head in this little temper tantrum whenever it happened. She never liked to just walk on the trail, she was always jigging, and I didn't know any better than to just let her do it. It didn't matter, Coni was always safe for me to ride and didn't buck me off so I don't know who won the bet...

Our saddle club also rode in many parades in those days as a precision drill team, Coni was only allowed to participate in practice since there were so many riders at that time, that our abilities were not needed. She learned the drill though and we were always available to "pinch hit" on the chance that someone would be unable to attend a parade.

Coni was my friend and solace growing up, many times throughout high school when I was feeling friendless, all I had to do was go over to Coni and she would stand by me and allow me to cry my hurt feelings out on to her mane. Oh she always smelled so wonderful!!! That special scent only my good friend carried... I can almost smell it now..

One of our many trail rides together just she and I led to another adventure, we were riding alongside a county highway, when along came some of my partying friends, they were roadtripping and offered me a beer, what a nice treat after riding for miles... I learned that Coni did NOT like the sound a can makes when you breathe into it before taking a drink ( you know the sound? that faint tinny whistle?). Needless to say, the beer and I parted company quickly, but I stayed on my horse!

Coni and I were riding fence one spring day checking to make sure the fence was intact ( the horses lived in a 25 acre pasture), when we had to cross a creek that ran through our pasture, somehow she stumbled and I was thrown forward over her head, into the water and was instantly submerged with a horse coming down upon me, somehow Coni avoided crushing me under her by curling her forelegs up and jumping forward, it was a miracle I wasn't drowned with a horse on top of me, but she knew it was me under her legs and wasn't going to hurt me.

When Coni was 11 yrs old there was a pasture accident, and she lost the sight in her right eye. She adjusted well to her blindness and we were always careful to talk to her when we worked on that side.

In 1994 at the age of 33, I lost her mother Peni Fadda. I was heartbroken, but knew I still had Coni for solace. Coni was always my rock my stability point. She was so special to me...

In August 1997, my dad passed away, just after I learned I was pregnant and my fiance and I had just broken up. Coni once again was a rock for me, my reason to live, my solace... Many more tears were shed into her solid body, she allowed me to cry out my heartbreak and always gave me comfort. When my son was born, I would take him to the barn with me to do chores, Coni absolutely loved her baby! Her eyes would get all soft and she would blow softly into his face just drinking in his baby smell! You could see how much she loved babies, any babies... human, dog, cat, chicken, she would pull me over to baby strollers to see babies, and I always held the baby chicks and kittens up to her face so she could blow at them. It wasn't an alarmed blow, it was a tender sigh I could always see how much she enjoyed babies and allowed her that pleasure.

On the off chance Coni ever got out of her pasture, she didn't go anywhere except up to the house to wait in front of the door for me to see her and put her back into the pasture. I used to allow Coni to graze loose back home because she never left the yard. Coni had so MUCH personality!! She was loved by all who met her, she would just charm her way into your heart without much effort on her part...

Coni loved her treats, carrots were a favorite as well as sugar, and the peppermint horse treats. In her last hours I was able to feed her carrots, she relished those, it was my pleasure to give her what comfort I could at the end.

In 2000 we were introduced to a young friend who was looking for a horse to lease for 4-H, I had 3 horses at that time, Coni, Shom, and Nabila, and she was allowed her choice of horses. She chose Coni, my silly sweet mare. They went on to a semi successful show career culminating in a trip to the State 4-H horse show in 2001. Coni took it all in stride, until the time came to ride the Saddle Seat classes in the Coliseum... as soon as she entered that huge arena, she was black with sweat, but as scared as she was, she still tried for my young friend... she was 21 at the time, and it was a relief to bring her back home unscathed from that adventure.

Coni was named Champion Pleasure Mare at our county Fair that year, and my young friend came home with a large trophy that she proudly displayed for all to see, I was quite surprised with her win because I though personally, I was showing the winning horse ( shows how much a judge's opinion differs from mine...).

Many young people learned to ride on my sweet Coni, and then moved on to horses of their own, currently one young friend is riding the Arabian circuit and has done very well with the horse she is currently leasing, I personally think Coni is responsible for that young lady's continued foray into the Arabian horse world give her the sole credit.

After my fall from a horse a couple of years ago, Coni was the first horse I got back up on, it was like slipping into a pair of comfortable old shoes, we meshed so well, I knew I would always be safe on her back.

This summer I had no time for riding with the weather, and my job but I continued to always have time to pet and love on my horses, even if only for a few minutes. Coni always loved having her butt scratched and would make her way up to me to beg for some scratches with her soft nickers. I only had to call her from the living room window, and she would nicker back begging me to come out and give her some scratches or a treat... it was always so nice to come out of the house and know Coni would be there to call for me if she heard or saw me coming.

I don't know what happened that Wed a week after I lost Promise, but I only know Coni was fine in the morning when I did chores, and in the evening when I came out to do chores something was very wrong with my precious baby. She couldn't walk straight on her hind legs, it was like she was drunk, swaying and crossing her hind legs as if she didn't know where they were. The vet was out the next day to examine her, initially he thought EPM, but the symptoms didn't add up... she had no lethargy, no drooping of her face, her spirits were good, she was the same old Coni with the exception of her hind end. We fought valiantly for her to improve and one minute it would seem like she was better, then next she was having a set back again. I had another vet come out who did acupuncture on her, and he also thought EPM possibly, and I was trying to get her into a new drug trial when the bottom fell out of our plans. Coni fell for the last time on Sunday night, she couldn't rise again on her own. I called my brother for help and he built a sling for her and we tried to lift her with an engine hoist, we were able to get her up but her hind legs just couldn't support her, and I realized I was going to have to say good bye to my good friend. We lowered her for the last time, and I called the vet. I was unable to even say the words, "put her to sleep" but he knew it was time, just from the tone of my voice. I can't believe how hard that was, to tell him we were giving up the fight, but it was time and in my heart I knew it. I gave her several carrots and sat with her telling her how much I loved her, and that she wasn't going to suffer any longer, she wanted to live, but her body was failing her. As the vet gave her the medicine to put her in a forever sleep I was there at her head talking to her comforting her... it was soooo hard to say goodbye... my baby, my heart horse...

Coni was buried with dignity and care next to her friend Promise. I never, ever expected to have to say goodbye to 2 horses this soon, and most especially not my Coni, my sweet girl...

I am still crying myself to sleep at night, and I dread coming home from work knowing I will never see her wonderful face peeking out at me through the fence, I will never hear her welcoming nicker greeting me as I step out the door. I know I did the best I could for her and I know she had a great life with me, but this knowledge brings me no comfort. I know time only will help the hurt heal, and I know I will see her again in Heaven, but at this time, I would give almost anything to have my Coni back...

I hope in my grief I have been able to convey the love and trusting bond I shared with this special mare, I know it probably sounds disjointed I am trying to get through this in my enormous grief, my time with her just seemed too damn short...

As you read this, if you have a special heart horse, perhaps you could go out and give them a hug and know that I would be doing the same thing with my heart horse, she will always live inside of me.

Rest In Peace my sweet Coni