For those of you who haven't been following, a few weeks back I posted a blog about my own personal Fantasy of Being Thin. Essentially, along with all the other attributes I as a fat person so commonly associate with the magical state of thinness (poised, confident, successful, admired, talented, fending off the men, etc.) I believed that thinness would automatically open the door to horses again. I grew up with horses, but had to give them up when I went overseas at the end of high school. During those ten years I used the potential to ride again as the prize in my many attempts at weight loss, with 240 pounds as the final goal. That's the weight limit at most commercial riding stables, so it became that magic number at which everything became possible. I don't think I ever had any illusions about reaching the "medically acceptable" weight range of 160-180; I'm 6'2" and a genotype formed from a very long line of sturdy Irish peasant women and Viking invaders. It would take an actual terminal illness to get me to 180 pounds. 240 sounded possible and reachable, even though the set point my body has naturally settle to throughout my life has been just over 300 pounds. So I worked, and failed, and put everything in my life on hold until I hit the magic number, with horses as a carrot to keep me on track.
Then I found FA, thanks to my Tante' (aunt) who invited me to NAAFA. Then I found the Fatosphere, thanks to Google. Then I read this post. Then I cried a bit :-)
Then it occurred to me that regardless of what people thought of me while I was riding or how ridiculous I looked trying to mount, there were quite a few horses out there I could ride. As the draft horse has disappeared from modern farms, those who love the breeds have trained them to saddle instead. So I steeled myself against the potential for nasty responses, put an ad up on Craig's List and started calling farms.
Last week I posted an update when a woman contacted me with a beautiful Belgian mare available for half-lease. She's a rescue from the kill pen at the Shipshewana horse auctions who's been trained up into a great saddle horse, and more than able to carry me.
Yesterday I went out to meet them both. We took a short trail ride to try her out and I made an idiot of myself trying to scramble onto an 16 hand Belgian after not mounting a horse for 10 years (finally used her deck to get high enough so I wouldn't yank the saddle around on the poor girl's back). She was a bit jumpy, whether from not being ridden for a month, the wind, or just having an unfamiliar rider on her back. She shied a few times at barking dogs and the apparently horse-eating squirrels running across the road (and completely spooked once at a wild, horse-eating puddle that the wind rippled while we were passing) but I managed to stay on and kept my balance until she collected herself.
The biggest challenge was that she was trained in English aids, and I was trained in Western. This led to some confusion for the both of us, since my instinctive movements were a little contradictory to the poor horse and we didn't exactly keep a straight line down the road. It's something I have to work on, and thankfully she seems to have a really forgiving personality.
So, yes, I made the first month's payment, and only have to call ahead whenever I want to ride. I was impressed that she had a lease agreement ready, along with very clear barn rules, helmet rules, liability waiver, etc. It's really encouraging. The barn is one of those beautiful antique two-story barns with hand-hewn rafter logs I've always wanted to see the inside of, so that's a perk. I might invest in a tall mounting block to keep there so I don't have to bring the horse up to the deck each time. I also need to keep up on my Yoga, and maybe add Pilates. I'm taking note of all the places that hurt this morning, so I know which muscles to work on and stretch out for the future.
I can't believe such a great horse was in the kill pen ready to be auctioned off for meat. She's only 5 years old, very friendly, doesn't bite or kick, and I'm sure that once she learns to trust me as a rider she won't be inclined to spook. It really makes me wonder how many other neglected horses go straight to dog food without ever being given a chance. How many champion show horses or just really good trail horses are funneled quietly through the kill pen?
I'm also a little surprised at how easily it was all accomplished once I put my mind to it and just put the calls out there. Of course I feel a bit foolish for putting it off for so long, but I'm sure that where I am in my life is eactly the point where I needed this and will benefit the most from it. That's really how life operates :-)
The overall point is that no one should put off anything they want to do in life in anticipation of some distant goal. Especially when that goal involves a radical change in your physical body. I know that you've been trained most of your life to believe that you don't deserve to have fun, be successful, find joy in movement, or live your life as you see fit. Not when your very body is condemned as a moral failing by the modern church of the fashionably thin. Buying into that condemnation is a prison sentence; you are handing authority over your own body, mind and spirit to those who have the least vested interest in preserving it. You are quite possibly the only person in the world who will ever be able to care for your yourself to the degree you deserve as a human being, or really know what will make you happy. Never lose an opportunity to embrace something that will add to your well-being. No one knows how long they have in the world, and there's no reason to ever avoid something you love simply because of our society's distorted concept of appropriateness when it comes to fat people. Your body is what it is, but you'd be surprised at what it is actually capable of when you learn to trust it and take the risk of putting your own happiness ahead of other people's opinions.
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