When I was 11 years old I begged my mom to let me take horseback riding lessons.
A few of the “cool” girls at school rode at a stable nearby, so naturally I wanted to be like them and join the club.
Let me paint this picture for you. The popular girls were skinny, had perfect hair and wore the right clothes. Me? I had a mouth full of braces, zits on my chin and my idea of the perfect outfit was clashing a corduroy skirt with a velvet turtleneck.
And to top it off I was chubby.
Yeah, you get the gist. But, my mom signed me up anyway.
So, I walked into this beautiful barn full of optimism and joy only to be looked down on by snobby thin ladies who looked like they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalog.
Needless to say, I felt out of place. Big time.
Can you relate?
Keep reading for the big fat truth when it comes to horseback riding.
Am I too fat to ride a horse? People of all shapes and sizes have been riding horses for over 4,000 years. Fat people can ride horses just like anybody else. But it’s important to make sure you choose an appropriate horse and the right equipment.
Do Horses Have A Weight Limit?
The average horse can carry 20% of its own weight. I created a helpful chart below that will break it down for you.
Keep in mind that the average horse weighs 900-2,000 pounds. That means there are a lot of options for you depending on your size.
A lean racing horse weighs about 1,000 pounds. But a massive Clydesdale (you’ve seen them in the Budweiser commercials) weighs closer to 2,000 pounds. That’s double the size!
It’s important to be considerate of the horse here. Just like you wouldn’t expect a toddler to carry a grown man, you can’t expect a smaller horse to carry a bigger person.
|Your weight||Horse weight|
Big Horses For Bigger Bodies
Like I mentioned above, horses come in all shapes and sizes.
And like humans, they grow throughout their lives. So just because you can’t ride a particular horse today, doesn’t mean you can’t ride it down the road.
Maybe consider putting the horse on a high-fat diet if it’s too small? Just kidding. Please don’t do that.
Since you are fat like me, I can tell you the breeds you’ll want to focus on and which ones to steer clear of.
First, don’t bother with the tiny ones. Shetland ponies and miniature horses aren’t meant to be ridden anyway.
You might be able to ride an Arabian, but they are usually on the lower end of the size range for horses. Plus, they can be kind of prissy anyway. We are looking for a more robust horse.
I suggest a nice big boned breed like a quarter or draft horse. They hold up better with more weight than some of their more delicate friends.
Try a Shire, a Clydesdale or a Belgian.
The Right Equipment Is Key
Even after you find a horse that is the right size for you, if you don’t have the right equipment you and the horse will be uncomfortable.
First, make sure you are using a saddle that fits. If the saddle is too small, you might end up sitting too far forward or too far back. That will push everything out of whack and you might hurt the horse.
If the saddle is too big, it might slip into the wrong position, causing discomfort in the poor thing’s backside.
Another tool you’ll want to use is a mounting block.
Basically, it’s just a stool to help you get up on the horse.
If you have never ridden before, you might be wondering why you would need this.
The way you get on a horse is by putting one of your feet into the stirrup (which is the loop that hangs down from the saddle and holds your feet in place) and then swinging the rest of your body over the back of the horse.
For a few seconds, your entire weight is pulling on that stirrup. That’s a lot of weight on a very small part of the saddle.
If you use the mounting block, you won’t put so much pressure on the horse or your own foot.
And for the record, don’t be embarrassed to ask for one of these. Tons of people use mounting blocks, not just fat people.
Big People Have Riden Horses Throughout History
Think of all the fat kings and queens you learned about in school.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like 99% of the time I saw one of them in a textbook, they were sitting on a horse. And those people were not small.
Take Queen Victoria for instance. At barely five feet tall, she weighed 275 pounds. She was an accomplished equestrienne and took great joy in riding.
Queen Victoria’s great-great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, is also a lover of horses. Neither monarch is what I would call thin.
If the chubby Queens of England could do it, so can you!
Does It Hurt Horses To Be Ridden?
Not a bit. As long as you are sensible and follow the advice above, there is no reason why a horse should suffer from being ridden.
The horse doesn’t care what size you are.
In fact, the horse doesn’t care about much of anything. They aren’t exactly known for their dazzling personalities.
They work hard, do their job, eat and sleep.
And that’s about it.
Your horse couldn’t care less if you’re chubby. As long as you’re nice to them and give them a warm barn to sleep in, they will be perfectly content.
And maybe every once in a while, throw in a tasty carrot.
At the end of the day, anyone can ride a horse. If someone tries to tell you neigh, that’s their problem.
What’s more important than your weight is preparation. Make sure you have the right horse picked out and the proper equipment.
Any reputable stable will be able to help. Just make sure you call ahead and check their policy.