Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Learning to Love What You Cannot Change

“The point is, I can’t grow taller. I also decided I was not a ‘less than’ horsewoman if I opted to forego riding horses over 16 hands tall. I am uncomfortable if my heels fall only halfway down a horse’s barrel.”

On this journey towards being healthier and happier, I have had to come to terms with some things I simply cannot change about myself, no matter how much I would like to change them. So, in the interest of “raw honesty” — and also in hopes of helping some of you take another step or two along the “self acceptance” path — here are some of my own challenging lessons learned with regards to self-acceptance.

1. I will never be taller than I am.

*sigh* I stand 5’2″ tall. That’s great for a catchy tune but for riding? Not so much. Yes, I know, there have been some world-class riders my height, and some of them have ridden ginormous horses, but I’m not them. I have a hard enough time feeling like I have sufficient length of leg on a 14.2 hand high horse! (And, yes, I know, 14.2 ranks as a “large pony” for some of you, but those of us in the mustang world call anything over 14.0 a horse. #SorryNotSorry).

Anyhoo — the point is, I can’t grow taller. A few years ago, I finally decided to accept my height and live with it. So, I bought several of those library kick-stools so I could have one in the kitchen/pantry area, one in my closet, one in my library, and one in the tackroom at the barn. I also decided I was not a “less than” horsewoman if I opted to forego riding horses over 16 hands tall. I am uncomfortable if my heels fall only halfway down a horse’s barrel. I want to be able to wrap my legs around my riding partner.  My best dressage horse ever, Lady Grace, is an Arab/mustang cross who stands 15.2 hands tall. A very well-known clinician rode Grace in a dressage clinic once and compared her to “one of those really expensive German dressage ponies — she’s truly fine.”  Yes, she is.

Lady Grace. Photo by Lynn Freeney.

2. Other than my hair, I will never have a long anything.

No long, refined neck, no long legs, no long arms, nada. Not for this chic. I’m neither the gazelle nor the gamin. Years ago, my maternal grandmother had the family lineage traced. As y’all can probably guess from my skin/eye/hair color, as well as my build, I’m Scottish to the core. #ClanDonnachaidhForever. My highland heritage includes much fun, games, music, and mischievous lore (including a legend that, centuries ago, some Donnachaidh men took in some – ahem – “stray” cattle from a neighboring Clan and, um, “forgot” to return them).

But an elegant neck? Nope. My neck works well, however, and that’s a pretty amazing thing considering the whacks I’ve taken training horses through the years, so I’m grateful that all my limbs move and turn the way they’re supposed to. So I’m not built with fine bones; I’ve learned to be happy with the frame God gave me. #EmbracingMyInnerMustang

3. I will never be a “hard keeper.”

All those “scientific studies” that recommend an average caloric intake of 2,000 calories per day? Hogwash! I can maintain weight on 1,500 calories/day and need to drop below 1,200 to lose weight consistently. And a measly 1,200 calories is tough to maintain, because I feel ravneously hungry 24/7. #ShesGotPonyMetabolism For years, I’ve watched friends who can scarf down two cheeseburgers and fries, or half a large pizza, or binge-eat ice cream, and never gain an ounce. I’m not so fortunate, and I’ve had to accept that fact. I’m a very easy keeper and I have to eat far less than an “average” person – even with the vast amount of exercise I get each day – in order to drop the pounds. The moral of this particular story? Life ain’t fair. Deal.

4. I will never have a “big-eyed smile.”

You know those stunningly beautiful women with ginormous eyes who can smile their biggest smile and you can still see their full irises? That ain’t me, friends. Even when I’m thin, I’ve always had one of those smiles that crinkles your eyes to “nearly shut.”  Want proof? Here ya go:

Photo by Tess McHone, Everyday Beauty Photography.

Kaliwohi has huge liquid-brown eyes. My own sapphire-blues ’bout disappear anytime I’m even half-smiling. That used to bother me a great deal in my younger years. But there’s not one thing I can do about it. So I finally decided smiling anytime is a great thing, and however my face opts to crinkle up when I’m smiling is just fine with me. #SmileAndTheWorldSmilesWithYou

Photo by Tess McHone, Everyday Beauty Photography.


Go Riding

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