Looking for a place to take riding lessons or rent a horse for trail riding within 1/2 hour or so of the Kalamazoo/Portage area, either after 5pm or weekends. Specifically looking for a place with a sturdy horse (clyde, shire, quarter, etc.) that can carry a 300 pound fat chick. Grew up with horses but haven't ridden in 10 years. Willing and able to work as part of/in exchange for lessons (stall cleaning, stacking hay, grooming, some carpentry, etc.) Prefer private lessons or adult group with teacher who doesn't judge ability by body size. Frequency of lessons depends on schedule and price.
This is my fantasy of being thin.
I grew up with horses (two AQHA registered geldings), but had to give them both up when I went overseas in my senior year of high school. They went to good homes, and I went to Europe. No regrets, really. The exchange year was a once in a lifetime opportunity and did more to temper me than anything else I've ever done.
I did, however, miss the stable. Fiercely. While I was living in France I tried to take riding lessons, but their horses were too small and I was too heavy. I was at my thinnest in a very long time after swimming and walking every day, but at 6’2” I was pretty damn fit and still 280 pounds. To say I was too heavy to ride isn't fat hatred, just biology. Horses are not machines, and the average riding horse does risk back injury if they carry someone over 240 pounds.
So I made it my shiny, pretty, far-off star to reach for during the next three years. When I got down to 240, I would find a stable and ride again. When I got down to 240 I would finally take dressage lessons instead of the putz-around trail riding I was content to do as a kid. When I got down to 240, I would be a horsewoman, and content, and pretty, and happy, and free, and have no problems whatsoever.
Of course, as we all know, I would never get down to 240, and even if I did, only the first of that list would really change. Not even by swimming laps for an hour every morning before work, doing cardio and weight training every day after work, and eating the media perfect “healthy” diet chock full of veggies, whole grains and lean meats, would I ever maintain a weight below my body's set-point. I lived like that for two years in complete social isolation and never got within spitting distance of that goal weight. Nevermind the 180 pounds I was "supposed" to weigh according to the BMI chart maximum.
Now I have no idea what I weigh, and don't much care. I'm about a size 26/28 in most clothing lines now that my body's set point has "reset" higher from dieting. The one line I had to cross in accepting the FA state of mind was that I thought I had to give up on this one fantasy. I know there's a stereotype about fat girls who like horses, as if it's some kind of freudian defect to har har about. That I could get over. Giving it up would be a lot harder.
This one last dream never changed throughout my life, even when others (like doing the Wild Cave Tour spelunking trip at Mammoth Cave) came and went as motivators to chase thin. I loved going to fairs and horse shows just to walk up and down the aisles. I love the smell of dust and hay. I love to watch them move, I love to do all the little chores of grooming, clipping, brushing, braiding. I didn’t want to give up that part of my identity.
But maybe I don’t.
Now that I'm working my way through the stages of fat acceptance, I'm also learning to think outside the fantasy. For example, did you know that you can put a saddle on a Clydesdale? Also, quarter horses can come pretty big; Ours were 16 and 17 hands and they carried me just fine. Sure I'd need a step to mount until my leg muscles caught up to the jump, but does that matter so much? If I toss the fear that everyone will laugh at the fat chick on the horse, is there really any reason why I have to be six sizes smaller, just to grant myself permission to do something I love?
This is my fantasy of being thin.
And this is me letting go of it.