Alright everyone this is something that we desperately need to talk about because it is becoming a real problem. A few months ago a friend of mine shared a picture of Noodle and I on her company Instagram page. The photo showed me sitting proudly on my horse after just completely a very hard clinic with a top international rider. I was wearing a saddle pad made by my friends company and she wanted to show off us representing her brand. Well that post caused a fat shaming spiral that proved to me that there is a real problem in the equestrian community with bullying and fat phobia.
The photo in question
The first thing I did on Instagram that morning was check my messages. I had one that said “I saw the nasty comments from people and I just want you to know that they’re terrible and I’m on your side”, I thought they were referring to some minor issues with bullying that I had had in the past, I thanked them and moved on not thinking much of it. Then I checked my comments…
How Dare you ride at your size. That is abuse
I know it’s easier to be lazy and just eat fast food but you could at least try and lose weight for your poor horse
A horse shouldn’t carry more then 10%-15% of it’s body weight
Why is this person riding? She’s too fat
Have you watched her videos? She’s slamming down on that poor horses back
OMG his feet are terrible, she obviously doesn’t care about her horse at all
These were just a few of the comments that I woke up to that morning. My friend got a lot of hate too, she got called out for “supporting animal cruelty” by posting that photo of us on her page. I read all the comments. I cried. I contemplated giving it all up. Then I sat up, dried my eyes, and blocked every single person who said something negative. I deleted their comments and asked my friend to delete the post. I spent the rest of the day getting amazingly supportive messages from my followers and by the end of the day I felt so much better. However, some of the messages I received from followers really got my thinking.
Hey! I just started following you, you are a big inspiration. I am a big girl myself and the people are a bit rude in the stable so I often go ride when there’s nobody there
I’ve always been a larger rider and definitely feel like I have to work a lot harder then the average sized rider. I have heard nasty comments at shows and love when people that don’t know me come up to me after a show and compliment me on what a light rider I am.
I love your account so much! I’m a plus sized rider myself and I’ve always been fat-shamed for riding. I’ve been riding for basically my entire life but only recently gotten into english and jumping. When I tell people I do Hunter/Jumper they always give me a look up and down and give me that “Yeah, sure” look. I’ve heard/seen people at my barn whispering and pointing at me when I’m riding or tacking up. I actually got told to my face once by another boarder “You would be better doing dressage. You’re too big to be a hunter/jumper, don’t even try”
In the midst of hate let me send you some love! I love your page and your horses are beautiful. Sending love from one plus size rider to the next. In the equine world its such a shame that people can’t see that we are just as balanced (if not more) then the rest of the lot and value communicating properly and riding well just like everyone else.
I’ve also been posted on a hate account because of my weight… I feel ya girl
These are just a few of the many beautiful and supportive messages I received and I love and appreciate every single one of them. They all have a similar theme though and that theme is what I want to talk about. All of the comments mention how the writer has also been fat shamed in the equestrian world. These people and so many more get shamed and looked down on for their weight because they have the nerve to be plus sized and ride horses. It’s a huge problem in the horse world, Huge! People have told me that they’re afraid to show, afraid to post videos or photos online, afraid to show their love for horses because of the hate and bullying and backlash they think that they will receive.
Recently I also joined a video based social media application called Tik Tok. The amount of hate and fat phobia that I have found on there is truly alarming. Even worse then Instagram. I literally get hate comments on there on a daily basis.
Why is this such a problem in the horse world? Truly I understand the issue if a 300lb person was riding an 800lb pony, but these girls and women who tell me their stories are all beautiful and perfectly well suited to the horses that they ride. In the USA a lot of people refer to the 20% which states that a rider + tack should not exceed more then 20% of their horses body weight. Which means that Noodle could comfortable carry a rider + tack = to 280lbs but the 20% rule isn’t always accurate. It doesn’t take into account the fitness level of the horse, the fitness and ability of the rider, how the horse is built. Short back or long back, skinny legs or lots of bone, good top line or no top line etc. So yes it’s a rough estimate and studies are always being conducted about the weight carrying capacity of horses. There was one study done in Kentucky that showed that horses didn’t begin displaying distress until they were asked to carry 30% of their weight and these were horses that were out of shape and only ridden every 14 days, so a fit horse theoretically probably could handle 30% of their weight with very little to no issue.
Now apparently in the UK the rule is 10%-15% of the horses body weight which is absolutely insane, that would mean that Noodle couldn’t handle more then 140lbs, that counts out more then half of the people who ride at my barn and pretty much all average size men. The vast majority of the people who left all of those negative comments on my insta the other day were from the UK or other parts of Europe. I’m truly curious to know why the fat shaming is so much worse over there then it is in the USA.
At any rate all bullying needs to stop. I’ve been told on more then one occasion to just stop caring and just enjoy my horses. I wish I could do that, I wish I could put myself in a box and never share anything with anyone besides my inner circle. I can’t though. I can’t turn my back on the hundreds maybe thousands of equestrians that are afraid to share their love of horses with the world because they don’t know how they will be received and they fear the bullying and the name calling and the slander. I can’t leave them, I need to fight for them.
If you are hiding in the shadows because you think you’re too big to be allowed to ride horses, now is your time to step into the light, I have your back, I will defend you with everything I have and together we can unite and show the world that plus size equestrians are strong and capable and worthy. We should be allowed to love horses and ride just like anyone else, and no one is going to hold us back anymore!
Please share your photos and stories on Tik Tok, Instagram of Facebook with the hash tag #Equestriansagainstbullying