I’m back on a diet… again. Before Christmas I had lost about 20 lbs in two months through a medical weight loss plan (not surgical, just diet and an appetite suppressant) which was amazing – but the weight fell off so fast that once the holidays came around it came back on equally quick. After a few months of floundering around in the new year and a whole bunch of “I’ll start that soon,” I got the same kick in the pants that I always do when I feel inspired to be healthy again – ponies!
That’s me in approximately 2006(?) on my teenage heart horse, Elvis. This Lauren knew she was bigger than a lot of other riders, and felt big when I went to IHSA shows or other hunter shows – but looking back I didn’t look all that bad on Elvis. Plus, he was a tiny guy and at the weight I was here I think I’d be more than fine on a bigger 16hh+ horse. This Lauren was an undergraduate in college, and when she wasn’t in school she was at the barn riding different horses. She didn’t show much, but she went to every show and busted ass as a groom for the other people in the barn. She did stalls on weekends, and did the elliptical in the gym at her apartment a few times a week. She eats whatever she wants. She was single, and mildly interested in dating some people.
This is the (near) present Lauren. She is the biggest rider at her barn, and has been afraid to go try and show for feel of getting strange looks. She’s been busting ass at the barn trying to get back in shape, but hasn’t been able to get the outside fitness routine together as much as she wants. Part of the reason she loved her big Draft horse was that she thought he eliminated some people thinking “she’s too fat to ride that horse.” She sits at a desk 9 hours a day. She’s married and feels comfortable with her husband. In normal life, she’s not that insecure overall about how she looks. In horse life, she feels like an outsider even though every person at her barn and her trainer are glowing with compliments about her riding and hard work.
Now that I don’t have my big drafty horse to hind from, I’m face with the whole now I really need to pull it together. It’s not that I don’t think plus size riders can be effective riders – they can, and I am – but I can not keep it together when I ride Gatsby as long as I need to. He needs constant core control, a consistent and quiet leg, and all the buttons being pushed at the right time in the right places. I can’t do that consistently enough when I’m at the weight I am and in the shape I’m in.
On Monday I had a fabulous lesson where I jumped my first real course with Gatsby. It was at night in the lights, which he is notorious bad under, and I was only using a Myler D Snaffle and a loose martingale. No gadgets or harsh bits. I lunged him for about 15 minutes before my lesson and got on hoping for the best.
He was fantastic. Most of the jumps were just set to 18″ (the lesson has a few very beginner adult riders in it) but we did bending lines, lead changes, and ended with a 2’6″ oxer that Kathy set up for me. I haven’t jumped a proper 2’6″ jump in years and it felt amazing. I have already talked to my trainer about wanting to show in the April 20th CTHJA show, but now my mind is set. Not only that, but if she gives me clearance I want to do the 2’6″ modified division and a 2’6″ medal class.
It’s been my dream to go to a horse show and get around 2’6″ without looking like a fool. Now I’ve got to bust ass and try to get rider #2 back to rider #1 so I can make that dream more of a reality. Here’s to the journey!