The Sins of Plus Size Riders

The Sins of Plus Size Riders

At this point in my life, I’m a member of the plus size riding community.  I want to achieve a healthier (thinner) me, but I also am realistic about where I stand.

Riding is hard enough to do when you’re thin, but being heavy can be a pretty taxing mental and physical toll in this sport.  Therefore I wanted to join some online groups centered around this community to offer and receive support.

Note – all of the photos in this post were submitted by lovely plus size riders who are excellent horse women!  They have been kind to lend some photos to this post, and any negative commentary towards the riders not be tolerated.  

Photo courtesy of Natalie L
Photo courtesy of Natalie L

All in all, there are a bunch of really great plus sized riders out there.  Being a certain size does not limit someone’s know how or talent, and it has been nice to read others who have similar feelings and problems (I’m looking at you tall boots) to me.

That being said, some things really worry me about these groups.  I write the post below not because I want to put down a group that already feels bullied.  I write the words below because I want plus size riders to be seen as equals to thinner equestrians, and I don’t believe that will ever happen with some certain trends.

Photo courtesy of Amanda B
Photo courtesy of Amanda B

Riding a horse that’s not appropriate.

The most disturbing thing that I see are riders on horses that are wholly inappropriate for them.  Yes, I realize this is probably a bit ironic because I have no doubt that some people who read this blog think I’m too big for Simon.  I believe that any rider of any size needs to evaluate whether their horse is a good fit.  This can have as much to do with discipline or work load as it does with rider weight.

Photo by Debbie Patterson
A great team! – Photo by Debbie Patterson

What I often see on plus size groups is a bunch of people being blindly supportive of each other.  You look great!  You two are a perfect team!  Ride on and enjoy it!  I believe all plus size riders are beautiful and deserve to be happy, but that doesn’t mean you’re a good match for your horse.  Talk to your vet and trainer.  It’s uncomfortable asking your vet if you’re too fat for your horse (ask me how I know) but we have to do that.  We have to be the voice for our horses.  Positive body image and plus size power does not mean that every horse is capable of carrying a lot of weight.

Calling other riders skinny bitches.

Overweight people in all areas of life can get bullied, and it really hurts.  Turning that hurt into hateful comments towards other people is not helping anyone.  A lot of those “skinny bitches” have their own personal health struggles.  Some may happily exchange a size 2 frame for a better functioning immune system or cancer free or [insert problem here].  There’s just no need for hate.  At all.

Photo courtesy Emily R
Photo courtesy Emily R

Claiming discrimination.

I have heard plus size riders claim that they didn’t get placed in a certain class because of their weight.  Sadly, that’s going to be true… sometimes.  I have done a decent amount of horse showing in my life at different levels.  More often than not, my weight isn’t what is keeping me from blue ribbons.  My lack of lead changes / bad distances / not great moving horse / blowing a lead in a flat class / getting the wrong diagonal… those things keep me out of the ribbons sometimes.

Photo by GRC
Photo by GRC

Sure, discrimination happens and it sucks.  It’s part of horse showing unless you’re in a truly objective discipline.  If you feel like you got over looked for your weight, I think you have two choices.

  1. Be a good sport, shut up about it and try a different day.  Different day, different judge.  That’s life.
  2. Switch to a sport that is black and white, like jumpers or eventing or timed events.

Whining that the judge didn’t like you for being heavy doesn’t make you happier or solve anything.  I promise that judge is not going to turn around and hand you ribbons because they hurt your feelings.  Sorry, but this is part of horse showing.

Photo courtesy of Emily R
Photo courtesy of Emily R

I am blunt at times on this subject because I feel pretty passionate about it.  I want the plus size group to reflect strong, driven women who enjoy equestrian sports despite some weight challenges in their life.  There are successful plus riders in most disciplines if you look hard enough.  I suggest finding out who they are and being their own little silent fan club.  It will make you feel a lot better than putting others down!

66 thoughts on “The Sins of Plus Size Riders

  1. I’m now in the plus-size category, although I’ve not always struggled with weight. It can be a dark place to be mentally — I promise that no one is more aware of my size than I am. But what really irks me is when people generalize about size and ability; there are really great riders of every shape and size, and there are really poor riders of every shape and size!

    1. I think it’s a really gray area. I see a lot of people and think “Oh I would love to look like that!” including riders pictured in this post. However, when you weigh a certain # or can’t find breeches or tall boots that fit it certainly makes one feel plus sized… and that’s not always something you would know just by looking at someone.

      Really in the equestrian and even fashion world, it seems if you are 34+ in breeches or 14+ in clothes, you are considered plus sized by the people who make your clothes.

  2. So, so true. All of it. This is one of the reasons I love your blog. Honest conversation. I’ve been showing my Appaloosa, who looks like a hunter, in western pleasure for many reasons, one of which being that shopping for hunter clothes at my current size is daunting. :/

      1. Thanks! I may have to chat with you about it. I tried on a hunt coat the other night that was a gorgeous navy with a plum pinstripe, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $150 for it before buying hay for the farm for next winter. Must make the necessary purchases for the farm first. :/

  3. LOVE this post, nicely put, and the photos were great….admit partial to the gray 😉 But yes when you find difficulty in finding proper fitting riding attire because you are plus size (and stumpy legged like me ) it can be the most frustrating thing to first find well tailored clothes within a certain budget. I also raise quarter horses, barrel racing been my main discipline but when I decide to dabble back into the Hunter/Jumper discipline I went on search for the ideal horse for my weight (Percheron cross). I do see people in general of all disciplines too large for the horse they ride, you feel like mentioning nonchalantly in conversation that they my exceed in their discipline if the find a better suited horse for their weight/size/height but it can be a sensitive issue for that rider, so you smile and keep your lips sealed.

    1. It’s a really hard thing to navigate for sure. I thought long and hard about the contents of this post but certainly don’t know what to do with the situation you described above.

  4. My poor trainer has to reassure me fairly often that I am not too big for my horse, nor would I crush a slightly smaller school horse. I also tend to appologize to my horse on a per ride basis for not being better able to hold myself and for not exactly posting like a feather sometimes. It clearly bothers me much more than him!
    Finding tall boots was a nightmare (thank you Ariat for adding an XW calf size), and *great fitting* breeches are not much easier. I recently came across a handy FB group, “English Plus Size Riders Sales” (there is a non sales page more about community and such but I am more interested in the stuff) where folks sell new and used 36+ breeches, wide calf boots, 18″+ saddles and other things we usually have trouble finding.

    1. I love the EPSR sales group. Have sold and gotten a few things off there!

      Also, I do the same thing with you when riding other horses. “Will I hurt him? Am I too big?” The answer is usually no, but when I sit on something new that is a little smaller than my guy it makes me pretty nervous.

  5. Great post! As the owner/rider of the grey horse and the bay jumping the yellow and green jump I can tell you that I’m 6′ tall, the gray is 17.2h and the bay is 18h. I wear custom britches, custom tall boots, and a custom vest for cross country. It stinks. But, I’ve very rarely ever encountered people who were outright negative about my size. *I* don’t like my size but I try to be the best rider and owner that I can be and I think that comes through. We should never use our size as an excuse for horsemanship, we can always learn more and do better. 🙂

    1. I agree that every horseman can always try to learn and do better!

      I also may come steal your horses, because I adore them. Especially the big pretty gray 😀 😀 Thank you for sharing your lovely photos to help this post.

    2. Thank-you so much for allowing Lauren to publish your pictures and then for saying how tall you are!!!!
      I also am a plus sized, older, tall (5’11) woman. It’s so hard to find breeches in the right size and tall! And I’m finally getting my expensive tall boots zippered and gusseted to fit me. I would like to be back to my slimmer self…but I’m tired of my boots languishing in the closet for years. I’m going to wear them..dang it!

  6. This was an excellent post and I think the advise you give works across the board for people of all sizes. Especially about riding a horse who is the right size for you. We short girls have problems on big horses and it would probably be better if we chose horses in the 15 hands range instead of the 17 hands.

    Thank you for being so open and honest with this subject. I really respect that!

  7. I’m a plus size rider, but I’m also very short. Being short is in some ways an advantage in the fact that while I’m overweight for my height, I’m not really too heavy for many horses. But short, larger sized riding clothes are impossible. Just because you are wide does not mean you are tall, and things seem to increase proportionately. Fortunately, I don’t show, but I also feel like I couldn’t find show clothes if I wanted to 🙁

    1. Preach it, sister. I’m a short, heavier rider too. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find breeches, boots, and shirts that fit well, but coats are a pain!! No matter which coat I get, I’ll have to get it altered to not look ridiculous.

      As for the entire post – yep. EPSR member here too! I know perfectly well that I’m heavier, but I also know that my horse can carry me without any issue. My weight is just a thing, not a value judgment.

      And I agree on not being down on slender riders! Especially in eventing, we are all in this together, us and our horses against the test, the courses, etc. Not against each other. Everyone has challenges. Mine might be physical; a slender rider might be struggling with anxiety; another rider might be in pain … Just be gracious to people, ride your very best, and treat your horse like the priceless gift he/she is, yeah?

  8. This is an excellent post. You always have a great perspective. I am neither here nor there on either side and I have to say I’ve seen thin girls that ride atrociously(and usually place well) and I’ve seen bigger girls that ride beautifully . It makes me mad, but inequities always do. I think you raise a good point to not blindly support

  9. Really enjoyed this Lauren. I’m not quite plus size (30 breeches, size 12), but I’m so very top heavy I think it makes me look a lot bigger than I am and I struggle with that. It’s easy to start to hate your body because it doesn’t look like x (for me, being all the tall, skinny eq girls in the barn), instead of acknowledging its strength and abilities (my legs are strong enough to hold my two point, I have a great seat, etc).

    1. Hi Holly… I have the same issue, and found the ‘guaranteed no-bounce miracle bra’ to be the answer. It ran about $60 at the time I bought it (5-6 yrs ago?), but was worth every cent. It eventually got to the point where I wouldn’t ride without one….soooo much more comfy. Best of luck to you!

  10. First, I think that your size absolutely DOES NOT reflect your skill/level/ability with riding. I know many riders that are bigger than me and I don’t have half their skill or ability. When I look at them I think – “Damn, I wish I could ride like that”.

    Also, I think the H/J world is the most size-ist. I see some plus-sized riders seriously rocking it in the dressage rings and event worlds, but the stereotype of the Eq-diet Pin-thin Hunter rider still exists.

    Lastly, the periods in my life when I have been the thinnest have corresponded to the most catastrophically awful times in my life. Please don’t ever look at a thin person and assume they’re happy ore carefree.

    1. I agree that the h/j world is still very sizeist. It seems to be SLOWLY changing, but that change is a struggle.

      Glad you’re happier now and are helping to spread the message that assuming thin = happy. It is not necessarily true!

  11. This is a really good post, thank you! And I want to especially think you for the “Skinny Bitches” part. I’m one of those “Skinny Bitches” due to serious health problems. Believe me when I tell you that I am much more unhealthy and unfit to ride than any plus sized rider out there. We should all be supporting each other and lifting each other up, not hating each other over something as arbitrary as weight.

    And discrimination can and will happen over anything, even really stupid things: short dressage riders face discrimination, “off-breeds” face discrimination, AAs in open classes face discrimination, too much bling faces discrimination, female riders in general face discrimination. It happens and it’s wrong, but pitching a fit doesn’t help. Pitching a fit makes people roll their eyes and blame it on your hormones (yes, that really happens and people are definitely doing it behind your back when you throw a fit), and that just re-inforces the discrimination.

    1. Yeah, I’m one of the well, not skinny, but not plus-sized, ladies, and I have huge struggles due to my lupus. Raging joint pain, anyone?

      And ya know, there are plenty of plus-sized riders I’d LOVE to ride like. Look at Becky Holder in eventing – she is AWESOME.

      Also: I WANT THAT GREY HORSE. I am a bit partial to big beefy greys 😉

    2. Hand up for another skinny rider saying thank you for adding that part in! I am what many would view as an ideal weight/height/build for horse riding. I am petite and well-proportioned (omg, that sounds so braggy. It’s not I promise! You’ll see my point in a minute). I also did commercial modelling for a while.
      I still struggle big time finding things that fit properly! Most jackets either won’t button up properly or hang like curtains. The arms are often too short and the shoulders too tight.
      Breeches end up under my armpits or riding uncomfortably on my hip bone points. If the bum part fits, the knees are too tight. If I do find some where the knees and bum are happy, they are often too long.
      Show shirts….don’t even get me started.
      And tall boots? Try a huge foot and a skinny calf. It doesn’t happen. I am constantly looking at boots, even those I can’t afford. Outside of customs, I have found only two models (not makes) that would fit from looking at size charts.
      So please you gorgeous curvy girls – when you are struggling with finding gear, remember that I am the “ideal” as seen by many – and I struggle too! Unite ladies of riding! 😉

  12. This is a great post! I don’t usually think of myself as plus-size, though I probably am. But there HAVE been times in my life I have been envious of thinner riders who look perfect in boots and breeches, times I have cried because tall boots didn’t fit over my calves, and times I have wondered if my weight is affecting my ability to ride.

    I am ultimately a pretty positive person, so most of the time, I don’t worry too much about how I look as long as I feel good. I’m taking steps to become healthier with a regular exercise routine and a better diet. I figure I’m doing what I can, the best I can, and there’s no sense in beating myself up for being larger than other people.

    Another thing that really helped my perspective was working in therapeutic riding. If I REALLY start to get down on myself, I remember the kids I taught who couldn’t walk without canes or were unable to post because they didn’t have enough control over their bodies. They would have been ecstatic to do things I do- gallop and jump and mount my horse without help. They would have been perfectly happy to have my thick, stumpy, FUNCTIONAL legs. So I try to remind myself that my body is functional and healthy, even if white breeches aren’t very flattering on me!

    Thanks for this post- it’s a good one! 🙂

  13. Interesting post and made me think more about body types and riding in general! I am kind of the opposite- always been a too-skinny girl- and short! The hardest thing for me is feeling like a “bug on a mountain” on my 15.2 hand gelding and envying all the riders I know with LONG legs. A trainer once told me my legs may be little but they were strong- but here to tell ya that wasn’t true. Anyway, like most social media (such as horse magazines)- the horse world is portrayed and represented with mostly thin to average sized riders, when we know in reality the horse world is made up of much more colorful group of riders (male and female!)

  14. Thank you for this post. I have gained weight due to a thyroid issue and due to that have not been in ring the last 10 yrs much due to the negative rail birds who would say something. But you right, Ive seen rail skinny girls who are bouncing all over faces, backs and making their horses more miserable than “us fat girls.”: LOL

  15. I love the message of this! It simply comes down to one thing: are you and your horse a good match? I think height has a lot more to do with that than weight when it comes to body type, along with riding ability, temperament, and a whole slew of other things. If the two of you truly work well together, then who on earth cares what you look like?! The horse couldn’t care less as long as you stuff his face with carrots and cookies.

    Also that big gray is so absolutely gorgeous. I need one. Loooove love love the big horses.

  16. This is a great post in so many ways… I read an article a little while ago about being the right size for your horse – it mostly talked about height opposed to weight but I think a lot of the same principles would apply. Essentially it came down to your ability to effectively use your body to ride the horse – which is pretty obvious in retrospect! I can’t remember where exactly I read irk though, probably eventing nation or horse collaborative.

    Also: Becky Holder, eventer. Look her up. ‘Nuff said.

  17. Let me tell you all the times I was called a skinny bitch and told to go eat a cheeseburger.. I’m lactose intolerant cheese won’t help me gain weight soz. I think everyone has the right to pursue their passion as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else and I comment people who face discrimination day to day and keep going. Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

    1. I was going to comment this exact quote – the amount I have heard – “Go eat a cheeseburger”..UGH. Not to me, but just skinnier people in general. IT goes both ways. I hate that more than anything,

    2. I hate the “Go eat a cheeseburger” line. I can’t eat dairy or wheat, feeding me a cheeseburger will just result in me barfing on you, or worse!

      1. I get the “skinny bitch” comment, too. Or “How do you stay so thin?” or “Eat a cheeseburger!” … Thanks for the suggestion, but chronic peptic ulcer disease keeps me from eating very well. Sometimes I cannot eat for days at a time. Everyone has their struggles. People need to keep that in mind before making dumb comments.

  18. I’ve never really payed attention to the weight of the riders around me. I look at the way anyone rides and that is based on their ability, not their weight. Anyone can be an amazing rider (like you!) and that’s that!

  19. Excellent post Lauren! I completely relate. I also think that larger sized riders can be too harsh on themselves and blame weight for issues that actually aren’t weight related. We can develop skills and be excellent riders while still carrying some extra lbs around! We just have to *believe* we can and then work on it.

  20. Beautifully stated.

    I’m fluffy and I know it. I avoided riding much in public because of it. Got tired of the looks and the tsk’s I’d hear. It took seeing another gal my size, riding her boy at a clinic that got me going again. I made it a point to thank her for being an inspiration.

    My horses fit me: one’s a Clydesdale/Standardbred cross; the other a Percheron/QH cross. I know my size and I would NEVER ride a light horse I even thought may struggle with me. It’s not right and I won’t do it.

    No, I don’t show. Have no desire to. But I’m getting my confidence back and am doing all I can to stop listening to the “voices” in my head that say “You’re too big., etc.”

    Thanks again!

  21. Awesome post on so many levels. I agree, the most important thing is that you fit your horse, whatever that means. (And I still totally blame you for encouraging 5’8 me to buy a 15.1 hh Haffie!)

  22. Such a great post. My best friend is a plus size rider and for her fitness is the most important. She is also a marathon runner and probably the fittest person I know. People need to realize big does not equal fat, out of shape, etc. BUT bigger riders do need to realize that they need to be fit in order to help their horse and their riding. There are a few ladies in my area that are quite large with big horses but they are so out of shape they make their horses job x10 harder.

  23. Well said, as always.

    When I played roller derby, we had these conversations a lot. Derby is a FABULOUS sport in the sense that a good team needs a variety of body types and forms of athleticism to be well-rounded. Some of the more “traditionally athletic” girls on the team struggled with that concept for awhile, trying to get everyone to be 135lbs and all muscle, when that’s just not how most bodies are made. I learned a WHOLE LOT about the athletic abilities of people who don’t look like Abby Wambach. It was through derby that I began to learn about the size acceptance movement–something I’ve truly come to appreciate and do my best to support.

    Queer communities often have a lot to say about the politics of bodies, too, as folks like me insist on not conforming to hetero-capitalist logic. I think that’s what it comes down to, a lot of the time: do people look the way we expect them to look? If so, how do we reward them? If not, how do we police them? I think it’s best to not police anyone’s bodies at all, of course.

    Anyway, you’re fabulous. Keep up the good work.

  24. This is a wonderful post and the pictures are fantastic. I especially love your point that body-shaming regardless of the rider’s size is not acceptable.

  25. I will never say that a heavy person isn’t capable of riding, and riding well! There’s a trainer near me who is heavy, and has done amazing things. Not only that, but I have seen her be able to take a heavier rider and make them also capable of great things. I’m always astounded by that, because I know the fitness level I have for myself. I have to assume that these women are even fitter than I am to be able to do what they do!
    I try to see weight as a health issue. For me, being heavier usually corresponds to rougher times in my life. For some, being skinnier does. Weight and emotion are just tied together like that. Unfortunately, that probably is part of the reason weight is so tied up in self worth, and I hate that. Heart disease isn’t a self worth thing. Neither is cancer. Or asthma. I wish we could view weight more as an objective health issue, and take the steps to bring it under control. In the same way I have to take steps to bring my asthma under control — I have to do cardio work, or I can’t breathe well, I have to keep up with my medications, I can’t do some of the things I want… etc.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m off base here.

  26. I have seen NUMEROUS people who would be in the plus size category who are incredible riders. They have quiet hands, a good center of balance and a soft feel. They are good horsewomen. Good riders. I have also seen far more skinny people who flop around on their horse’s backs, jar them in the mouth and make poor choices. When someone is a good rider, I don’t even notice their weight. I am betting that the horse has an easier time carrying a heavier rider who is balanced and quiet, than a floppy skinny rider with no control over their hands or seat. Just my opinion. 🙂

  27. This is so well put. I’ve seen plus size riders sit very light on a horse and very thin riders cause way more damage by riding heavy. Also, thank you for nixing the “skinny bitch” comments. I’ve been on the receiving end of those and it isn’t pleasant. We all work hard and have our own issues to deal with, there’s no need to bring anyone down.

  28. I love this post! I’m right down the average line, so I can’t even pretend to know what you gals go through, but I do want to touch on something I’ve noticed: the height of the horse doesn’t always help with carrying the extra weight. This is just personal observation, but I really think it’s extremely important to look at the conformational attributes of the horse (especially the back) and their fitness level. As well as your fitness level and ability. There is a horse at my barn who has a plus size owner (this is among many other issues and drama) but when she rides this horse, who is a percheron X with a slightly long back, and the horse is not in solid work with other riders, it is inevitable that this horse with be out with back problems for several weeks. So definitely seconding the vet opinion, and really evaluating the whole of the horse rather than just their size. I’ve seen 16h and under packers in great shape who are super stout carry heavier riders better than 17h+ thoroughbreds or horses with any conformational issues. It’s something we have to pay close attention to at my barn with the school horses, because we get a lot of shapes and sizes for our free intro lessons on Saturdays 🙂

  29. Love all the photos. I think I heard a long time ago that horses can comfortably carry 20% of their body weight. This article says 15-20% comfortably

    Having gone from losing 20 pounds in 2013 to gaining 30 over the last year, I have wondered whether I am getting too heavy for Chloe. I had a trainer several years ago try to dissuade a friend of mine from showing because the trainer felt that she was too big for the hunter ring and not ready for the jumpers. What a terrible thing to teach your students!

  30. Really great post Lauren. Although I am not plus-sized, I do fight with a healthy body weight/body image, as well as maintaining a level of fitness. Right now, I’m definitely not in shape, and it shows in my riding. I enjoy your honesty, it’s refreshing – plus, I think you are marvellous and courageous (and beautiful!! as are these riders!) for putting your body weight on display. Something I could never do haha.

  31. This is a great post and you have some amazing points. You really have to look at the shape of your horse and see how it fits you. A lot of people won’t admit that. A huge reason I won’t ever get on a pony… I don’t care if it’s a few inches away from a horse. If I don’t think it can handle my weight, I’m not getting on. Looks don’t matter, weight doesn’t matter, as long as you are comfortable and treating you and your horse the way you deserve to be treated. Fairly.

  32. That 15% of horse’s weight as the maximum seems too little to me. Most of the ladies I know are around 140-150 pounds. This means that we cannot ride a horse at 1000 pounds or less at 15% (especially if you consider the weight of the saddle). Almost everyone I know is too heavy for their horse at 15%.

  33. Amen! Size relevant to your horse isn’t reserved for plus-sized riders, either. I am tall. very tall. So it’s always an issue. I see people putting oversized kids on minis thinking its adorable, but the 20% is a basic guide for a reason and as you up the level asked of your horse, that percentage goes down. And FEI working horse shouldn’t be carrying 19% even, it makes his job and back coming up too hard. if your horse is packing %30, it’s abuse, doesn’t matter if you’re a 5′ 1″ skinny kid riding a small pony or 478 lbs on a Norman Draft. I also find a lot of negative comments to be said often beacsue a plus-sized rider seems to run themselves down before anyone else ccan. Botha bout htemselves and otehrs, I am medically anorexic (I am not thin and it’s not mental/emotional, it’s a physical lack of appetite). I hear often stupid remarks about how lucky I am when in fact I am overweight with a messed-up metabolism and no way to loose weight and hardly eat so I don’t get a healthy diet.

  34. Great post! It really bugs me that everybody thinks that because you are a larger rider you should automatically be on a draft horse or draft cross. The weight rules apply to them too! And there are some theories that because they were bred to pull and not to carry that they may have lower weight carrying abilities, though I am not sure the science behind that. I have seen some very stout ponies that could just as easily carry a heavy weight rider and a large draft could.
    I have found myself more than once in a situation on group trail rides where I wanted to say something to somebody that was riding a horse too large for them. It is not just heavy riders that make the offense either. I have seen full grown women with their feet practically on the ground on small ponies. It is so hard to speak up though. Nobody wants to be “that rude witch that called me fat.”

  35. I attended a Susan Harris clinic years ago and she spoke openly about her weight, her horse, riding and effectiveness. It was very enlightening. She is also an amazing artist and illustrator. Have you seen the visible horse?

    This post was excellent. I am small and also have a tough time finding clothes that look normal on me. I am very happy on my 15 hand horse, although I do get annoyed when he is described as a pony or kid’s horse. Ironically, he looks bigger when I am riding him. 😉

  36. Thanks for a great post!! I am not the same size and shape that I was 25 years ago but I am back in the saddle at age 50 and loving every minute of it. A lot of life happened in between owning my QH mare back then and riding a few different lesson horses now. My goals, however, remain the same – be the best rider I can be, enjoy the horse/rider bond, and share the experience with like-minded riders of all ages, sizes and shapes.
    I am 5’2’, plus sized and chesty to boot, so finding riding clothes can be a challenge. But luckily, I have found Tall Boots that actually fit thanks to my best friend ( 5’6” and also a plus size rider). Check out the Tredstep Donatello Field Boots – Plus Size. They have a plus calf (16-17”) and a wide calf (18-19”) – true plus size measurements!

  37. This is a great post and I agree with everything you said. I don’t have time to read all of the comments, but the ones I did read I completely agree with too. No one should be bullied about their weight, even skinny people. I just wish people would quit bullying altogether, and while they are at it quit judging or making assumptions about other people too. Everyone should just go mind their own business.

    For what it’s worth I never notice a rider’s weight. I’m too busy admiring the horses hehe. The only time I really notice the rider (in a negative light) is if they are doing something stupid or dangerous. So for anyone feeling self conscious for whatever reason remember that most people don’t even notice whatever it is you’re worried about (it’s called the spotlight effect). The only people who do notice are the ones who feel insecure too so they put you down to build themselves up. Just ignore them or “kill them with kindness” and keep on being the amazing horsemen and women you all are!!

  38. I have no problem with plus sized riders whatsoever. As long as it’s not damaging to the horse. That being said I don’t think anyone who weighs over 20% of the horse’s body weight should be riding that horse (20% being a generally good percentage to follow) that means man or woman. Even if you are a tall well built man and you are over 20% you should probably not be riding that horse. One thing that does concern me on the weight issue is jumping. Jumping is so hard on a horse already that even if you are on the light side of that 20% you should be very careful with your horse’s joints. Just as long as it’s what’s best for the horse, there really shouldn’t be an issue

  39. I am sorry this even has to be a topic. Maybe your average H/J woman hasn’t advanced past middle school when it comes to social mores. 🙁 I think everyone who follows their dream and gets out and horse shows or even rides should be celebrated and supported – maybe people are just jealous of your gumption!

    I always like to tell the story of Polly. Polly was a lovely TB mare, 16hh and just beautifully-made. She was in the lesson program where I rode and looked like the very picture of a hunter horse…. except she hated it. Did I mention she was a red-head, too? Yep, despite only being four years old ‘ole Polly (homebred, never raced) had two speeds in the ring: slow and stop. One dreadful lesson day I literally could NOT even get her to trot. The BO got on and tanned her hide while I stood mortified in the middle of the ring. Eventually, after riding her for about six months, we came to an understanding and she actually grew to like me pretty well and I enjoyed her. For the record, I am 5’6″ and while not skinny I’m not very big (except in the chest, see below). I also suck in the cardio-vascular fitness department. Being blessed with a good metabolism means I often skip working out, which doesn’t help.

    There was someone else in the lesson program who regularly rode Polly besides me: my friend S. S is about 5′-nothing and a little bit round. But let me tell you – she got way, WAY more out of Polly than I ever did. I was in awe of her riding talent and just loved to watch what she could do with that mare! I’ll never forget seeing them in an Adult Medal. I would have been gasping for air but S did a beautiful job wheeling Polly around and got a nice ribbon.

    Moral of the story: I can tell you first hand that being thin does not equal fit, and being fluffy sure as hell doesn’t mean you can’t ride circles around a skinny bitch. 🙂

    If it makes anyone feel a little better, I am firmly convinced that almost no H/J rider clothing company makes things that properly fit people who are not 5’ 7″, 125 lbs., and flat-chested with 14″ calves. Any variation from this “ideal norm” means you’ve got fitting problems, whether you’re large OR small. As I said I am not plus-sized but I do have 12″ calves and DD boobs and that makes things challenging, too.

    Here’s to our wonderful sport where you can spend a fortune to feel like crap AND get flung in the dirt for your troubles. 😀 I’m just kidding, of course, I still love riding and showing! You are awesome, Lauren and everyone else – you all are doing what makes YOU happy and that is who you need to please!

  40. So I know that this is years old but I just googled “hunter jumper show shirts for plus sized women” and your blog popped up. I have brands that I like but I like to see if there is anything new out there from time to time. Anyhow, I came across this and uhhhhh this topic sucks! Lol. It is hard to stay positive sometimes but I try to remember that as long as I love what I am doing and can still do what I love at the end of the day that ribbon doesn’t matter. I have been straight up told that I didn’t win a class because it was close and it came down to the fact that I didn’t make as pretty of a picture as the girl who placed above me. Did it hurt? Hell yes, but I was on a horse I love doing what I loved. Actually, I was WAY more pissed at my last show when I was taken completely out of the placings cause at the end I was so happy with my horse that I could not stop myself that over the last fence I let out a “YEEESSSSS GOOD BOY!!!” My trainer does not guess at placings a lot but when I came out she told me that we were absolutely in the top 3 but then I didn’t place. Someone saw my card and it was because I talked to him. Hunters are supposed to be silent and all. The point is, a judge is a person with his/her own opinions and we have no choice but to accept them so instead we need to be happy with ourselves and enjoy the things that make us smile and yell “YEEEESSSS!”
    P.S. This is the terrible breeches buyer who forgot to send you her address. Lol. I just got the box yesterday. Thanks!

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