Guest contributor Bernadette Kilcer speaks out on behalf of plus-sized riders and the challenges–both physical and emotional–they face.
I recently did a guest blog entry for A Fat Girl & A Fat Horse (last week’s Horse Nation Blog Spotlight) about my first introduction to the horse world, whereby my instructor (at the time) told me I was too fat to ride. It got me thinking about all of those apparel companies, trainers and riders out there who judge those of us who are, well, fat. There, I said it.
This word, the “f” word, is not a word that I drop lightly. Unless you were born with a rocket-like metabolism you know exactly where you are on the scale. Unfortunately, for some of us the struggle is more difficult than others due to the cruelty of nature or medications (or both).
Unfortunately, in the equine world if you are a fat rider finding appropriate sized clothing is challenging, and finding boots, well, unless you have customs made there is only a single company out there that makes boots for bigger girls, Fuller Fillies. Heck, there was even an online article done by an EXTREMELY well known mentor, trainer and coach who has been the recipient of many accolades. In this article the author came down hard not the side of the plus-sized rider. I find that incredibly disheartening.
Riders should be welcomed into the equine community regardless of any of their own personal demons. We welcome and encourage prisoners to train ponies. We welcome and encourage the lesser-abled to ride. Why are the plus sized riders so ostracized within the community? As you are reading it, think back to the last competition you were at and you saw a fat person on a horse. What was your first thought and be honest with yourself… Yeah, it wasn’t a nice one was it?
Now, I am not advocating for a misappropriate size match (a 400-pound man on a 14-hand pony). I am advocating for those folks who got off of the couch and are out riding. We all know how physical it is, we aren’t just passengers. Commend them. Encourage them. Because for all you know that person just lost 100 pounds and this is their REWARD to themselves. We are a generous community, we need to start acting like it.
The author, despite a rocky start into the equine world, has two VERY supportive instructors and is the proud new mother of a 5 year old 16.1hh big boned OTTB who has never EVER missed a meal (or a treat).