Thursday, January 25, 2018

Weighty Issues

This is an actual picture of me trying to ride a horse.

 Okay, maybe not.

By the way, these lovely props are from my classroom. What you see in the background in my library. 

This is how I feel on a horse though. Probably what the horses feel also.

I feel I need to make a disclaimer here that these are my opinions about myself only. I do think that everyone should make their own decisions and choices as to riding.

So, how did I come to this conclusion for myself?

So glad you asked!

The typical standard answer for how much weight a horse can carry is 20% of their weigh. This article from Horse Science News has a short article confirming this and also notes that this is the same guideline that the U.S. Calvary used in 1920. That is a pretty good general guideline, except I think a lot depends on what is being done with the horse and how experienced you are.

Obviously if you are riding a jump course your weight is going to affect the horse more than if you are just hacking out on a flat well groomed trail. Thinking about what the horse is being expected to do is just as important as how much work you are expecting them to do. Walking around an arena so you can socialize with your friends is a lot easier on a horse than trotting down the trail for several hours. Not to mention how well you know to ride. A beginner can hurt a horses back by bouncing all over the place, where as a heavier person who know how to balance can make the ride easier for her horse. So I don't believe that weight is the only reason to not ride, fitness, goals, and ability also need to be taken into account.

In my other blog, Fearless Riding, I  was overweight and rode. I was also a lot more fit. Back then I was taking care of chickens, goats, horses, exercising every day, and just being a whole lot more physical. I had a better diet and was making progress to losing weight. I was overweight, but I was also very strong.

Today, I have lived in the city for several years. I have to be honest with you that city life is not the life for me. I have dealt with depression and everything that goes with that, including lack of energy and stress eating. I do teach (and 3rd and 4th graders can keep you on your feet!) but at the end of the day, I am exhausted and don't have much energy left over. Hubby also was a factor. He loves his carbs, and I am no stranger to crackers, bread, potato, and rice. It did not take much to convince me to up the carb intake. I changed my diet down here. Oh and entering my 40's didn't help either. All that has lead to an increase in my weight. So much so that I don't personally feel like it would be fair to ask a horse to carry my weight.

Another reason that I am not riding is my butt and thighs. They are HUGE! It changes how I sit in a saddle and how I FIT in a saddle. It is harder to keep position with all that fat in the way. Not to mention that it is difficult to keep everything still. I have good balance and all but fat jiggles and moves. Fact of life people. My butt cheeks and stay in the same position, but my butt bones move.

My extra weight also makes me nervous to sit on a horse. I know that my muscles are not strong, my core is weak, and if I fall there will be issues. Being overweight is more than just the extra pounds I carry around. It is how it affects my breathing, makes my joints weaker. My knees are sore all the time and I have hip pain from time to time.

So for me there is no riding until I slim down and get stronger.

I will talk more about this on and off. I don't want to boring you with my struggles, but I also know that I am not the only one that struggles. I hope others can learn from what I share.

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