Since my post there, on the group designed for 13-19 year old riders, was removed, I'm going to post it here. My heart just aches, though, for the 13-19 year old riders who are a bit chubbier than average, who are internalizing these messages and perpetuating the cycle of self-hatred and deprecation. I hope that someone who needed it saw my post and felt like their heart was getting a hug. I went there sincere, and my post was removed. I can't do anything about the ugly inside other people, I can only do what I can with what is inside myself, and continue to educate people and humanize Anonymous Internet Fatties.
Hi there.About two years ago, someone lifted an image of me riding my APHA mare, without my permission, from my personal blog that is designed to encourage plus-sized riders to stop waiting for the perfect moment to live their lives. The picture was from 2004 or 2005, one of our last summers together before she died at the age of 6 from a torsion colic just below her cecum that killed all of her intestines (so no surgery or intervention could have helped by the time she was symptomatic). She left behind a nursing foal. That photo was taken on a day I remember really fondly. My sister and I had gotten on our broodmares and taken Angel for her first 'trail ride' -- up the hill on the front of our property. In the original photo, my 12 year old sister can be seen on her mare, and there is another photo in the series where her mare's foal-at-side is seen, puttering along with us. It was really warm, and I was a little nervous, but Angel was, as always, awesome. She was a total trooper, unflappably quiet, and did anything I asked, even though my fitness level had stopped me from putting a whole lot of time or rides on her. My sister's mare pitched a little hissy and backed down some of the hill; they got into an argument. The whole ride lasted maybe 20 minutes. Even now, thinking about it, I'm smiling.That photo, cropped up close to my smiling face as we were coming back to the barn after a successful ride, with most of my 1300lb, 15.2hh, solid-as-a-rock mare cropped out, was uploaded to a website called memegenerator (again without my permission), where people can find or upload photos and then write anything they want on it. I don't know how long it had been uploaded there before I happened to stumble upon it.Recently it was brought to my attention that one of those memes was posted here on this group. I know it's since been removed (which I think was a good choice, whether or not I was the subject), and I'm not here to yell at anyone or be upset, or stomp and shout. I just wanna talk.I don't know any of you. You don't know me. Why don't I tell you a little bit?I grew up with horses. My parents operated a mid-sized breeding and training barn full of APHA, western pleasure, and halter horses. Riding horses as a kid was my job, and by the time I was 14, I was tired of it. My parents sold my show horse because I wasn't interested anymore. A few years later, they brought Angel home from an APHA sale in Maryland as a long yearling and my life changed. All of a sudden, my passion had returned. I was dreaming about the show pen again. I was imagining an entire breeding program with her at the cornerstone. After a couple of years where I couldn't have cared less about horses, I knew there was never going to be a time in my life moving forward that I didn't have a little horse hair in my blood.I had a lot of fun with that horse. We hit a few shows, we started under saddle, she gave me two beautiful foals, who are still with me now. In 2006, she died. I came home from town one sunny late-August afternoon and she was lying down in the pasture. It looked like she was soaking up the sun but I knew something was wrong. 8 hours later, she was dead. And there wasn't a single thing I could do about that but rage and cry and wish that I could have rewound the short 4 years we had together. I couldn't. All I have are a few precious photos, and not even any professional or really polished ones. I regret that a lot.You saw in that photo that I'm fat. I'm about 6ft tall with linebacker's shoulders and size 12 feet -- not exactly your ideal image of a horseback rider even if I wasn't fat, but then to add insult to injury, I'm also fat. There are some parts of my emotional history that have largely influenced that fact. I was also immensely unhappy for a very large part of my adolescence, which included counseling, depression, and thoughts of suicide. Angel changed a lot of that. When I spent time with her, I was happy. I could think forward about my life to come and what I wanted to see in it. That was 11 years ago.Now you know a little bit about me. These days, I'm still fat and I still have horses -- I'm also a wife, and a successful author (and yes, my books include horses!). My life was shaped very largely by the 4 years that horse was in my life. I wrote a blog that has had reader hits from all over the world, and now, even when I am not writing regularly, I still get regular emails from people thanking me for my words. Some of my words were published in a non-fiction book published by Trafalgar Square this year.I'm telling you these things not to brag but to show you...I could be anyone. I could be your mom, your sister, your friend, or someone on this site that you desperately want to sponsor you. There is a person behind that 'funny' picture. And you might want to have the right to post whatever you want, but I want you to think about the actual, REAL, people, that exist beyond those things you want to have the right to post, and how you might feel if you were the target. If someone lifted your profile picture from Facebook or your blog and uploaded it as 'free game' for the entire world to post as a big, fat, joke. You don't know anyone's story until you ask them (yeah yeah, I know you didn't ask), just like nobody knows YOUR story until they ask you.I just think people need to be kind to one another. And yeah, you know, when I found out that picture was STILL circulating, two whole years after I initially found it (and who the heck knows how long it was going around before that while I was blissfully unaware!), it was a gutpunch. It always is. I miss Angel a lot, and knowing that a picture of what was one of my happiest days is the butt of someone's big joke IS hurtful. But I shake it off. I've got broad shoulders (remember, they could be a linebacker's!), and if it means someone with a weaker consititution than I have gets a free pass from being picked on, I say bring it on. But I want people to think. To KNOW. Those anonymous fatties are real, honest-to-goodness PEOPLE. With real feelings and real lives.XOXO,Amanda
* Update 2016/01/12 - Success! MemeGenerator finally removed the picture of Angel and I! That means that there are still lots of memes of us still floating around out there but nobody can make new ones.