I have always been a big girl, I have always loves horses. Those 2 things, especially when I was younger, don’t necessarily go together. There has always been prejudice against plus sized riders, and even though its not as bad as it once was (at least in the USA, I feel its far worse in Europe) I believe that prejudice will always exist on some level.
I fell in love with horses when I was 2 years old. I was at my fathers company picnic and down in a field at the bottom of a hill pony rides were being given. I took one look at those ponies and took off, away from my mom, down that hill yelling “Need to ride the pony” and that was it, the fire was lit, a fire that has never burned out. Little did 2 year old me know just how hard hard of a journey my love of horses would take me on!
I began riding lessons when I was 7 years old. My first trainer was a good trainer, I will give her that. She helped me develop a great seat and gave me a great foundation. She was also close minded, fat shaming, B-word. I didn’t realize until later in life, after I left that farm, just how much she bullied me. There is one moment that will always stick out in my mind. I was around 10 or 11 years old and I was having a riding lesson. I was riding this Mustang pony named Twinkle. She was 14 something hands and well built, not some dainty little pony. My trainer stopped the lesson and told 10 year old me to get off the pony and come with her. She brought me up to her house and made me get on a scale! She then informed me that I wouldn’t be able to ride Twinkle anymore because I was too heavy for her. I can tell you right now I was not too big for that 14 hand mustang pony, I was 10 years old.
At one point she told me I could only ride draft horses, and that I would never be able to jump higher then 2′ because I would always be too big to do more. She also used me to ride new horses to see if they could “handle weight”. At one point I came back on college summer break to take lessons and she wouldn’t let me use my own saddle because it was leather. She told me if I wanted to ride the lesson horse (a big stocky paint named Scribbles) that I would have to use one of the wintec lesson saddles, even though it didn’t fit me nearly as well as my saddle did, because it was light and we didn’t need to “Add anymore weight on top of mine to the poor horse” That day was the last time I ever went to that barn, but I spent 12 years being bullied and fat shamed by that woman because I thought she was right, that there was something wrong with ME. It took me a long long time to realize that there was actually something wrong with her.
Trainers since my first trainer have had different views then she did. I remember when I told my first trainer after that original trainer that I was never allowed to jump higher then 2′ because I was too fat to jump higher, she was in complete disbelief. She had me jumping 2’9 in no time, and the horse survived *Eye Roll*. I know that sometimes people ARE too heavy for the horses that they ride, and of course that is something that plus sized riders need to be conscious of, but if you are on an appropriate sized horse that is well proportioned to you, there is NOTHING stopping you from doing whatever you want to do in the equine world. Never ever let anyone tell you different.