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What Does The Heavier Rider Do
When Confidence Slips Away?

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Hi Marv,

First, thank you for being here for Horses and Horse people! And I would love to sit with a cup of coffee and talk with you all day!! Just reading your words of advice is awesome!!

Now, I am a 5'2, 300lb woman. I LOVE horses, I learned how to ride on an old pro. She was a great horse. I now however am becomming scared to ride another horse. I have a 2year old gelding which I have raised from day one and a 3 year old filly that I rescued. She had more or less no touch from humans, she seems to have bonded with me, once, sense I have gotten her has she tryed to kick me, and that was when I was touching her all over, I touched her utter. I gave her a "punch" in the side and told her not with me you dont'. She now allows me to touch her anywhere.

Neither of them is trained, although I have been working the gelding, he's already been saddled, & I have made plans to send the filly out. I am still worried about not being in control of my body. I dont think I am a bad rider, I am "green"... I guess my questions are... If my horse(s) trust me will I be a better rider and what do you suggest for me as to learn how to control my own body? As a heavier rider I feel I must ride a larger horse (14.2hh if muscular and above. Falling off from this hight is a LONG LONG way). Are there things I can do? Like ride a barrel or something? I know I am not the only LARGE AND LOVELY RIDER (hehehe).

Thank and your pages are great help... Thank you!

No, I don't think you'll be a better rider if your horses trust you. I think your horses will be better horses if they trust you.

Loss of confidence is the result of some action or actions that psychologically convince you that you do not have the capabilities you once had to do what you once did. That action can be a fall, a general realization that you do not bounce as you once did or even the realization that you are no longer immortal.

Or it can be your subconscious mind's way of telling you that it doesn't trust your body to do what you would like it to do.

One of my interests is tracking. Tracking requires that you observe. One of the things I have observed about heavier people is that extra weight exponentially affects their balance. It certainly affects their flexibility. Balance and flexibility are major pluses when riding a horse.

When I say that weight exponentially affects your balance I mean that each level of additional weight has ten times more effect than the level before it. If we use ten pounds as the measure level, the third extra ten pound is not 30 times (3x10) more hindering, it is 1000 times more hindering (10x10x10). It does not take long before you are up to a level of effect that is extremely difficult to get over.

I see a lot of riders and I deal with a lot of horse problems. However, the percentage of those who are greatly overweight is rather small. That doesn't mean the heavier individuals are less interested in horses than the rest. It just means they have to put greater effort and energy into horses than others. They reach a point at which they simply cannot meet the demands.

There is also the matter of inertia. When a heavier person gets their weight moving it takes more time and energy to change its direction or to stop it than it does a lighter person. If I am moving at 15 mph I kinetically weigh 2700lbs. According to what you say you weigh your kinetic weight would be 4500lbs at the same speed.

Mounted direction and speed change forces would play a greater role. You would require greater control and balance than someone of lesser stature. Perhaps your mind sees this and programs your confidence accordingly.

A heavier person, especially one with a shorter stature would also have a higher center of gravity to further complicate balancing. The heavier the person, the more difficult it is for the rider to maintain balance. The heavier the rider, the more difficult it is for the horse to maintain balance. The "greener" the rider and the "greener" the horse, the greater the risk of injury, The heavier the rider, the more serious the injuries are likely to be.

Our self-preservation instincts throw up some serious roadblocks under these circumstances.

Unfortunately I know of no techniques that would help you regain the level of confidence you once had short of losing one pound.

It is extremely easy to say the answer to your problem lies in your weight. However it is not easy to deal with that weight but it must be dealt with if you wish to be confident, flexible and balanced enough to ride. When we say we need to lose X number of pounds it becomes a hercleaun task. Therefore, it seems to make more sense to deal with just one pound. One pound is easily do-able (at least more easier doable than 10, 20, or more) and repeatable (you did it once you can do it again).

Going after that *one* pound over the time your horses are undergoing their training will bring your confidence up to a more suitable level to match the increased capabilities of your horses.

Best of luck,

PS: Within minutes of posting the original email to my Horses Discussion List http://MarvWalker.com/horslist.htm one of the list members posts this response to the original email...

Hi Marv, First, thank you for being here for Horses and Horse people! And I would love to sit with a cup of coffee and talk with you all day!! Just reading your words of advice is awesome!!

Oh Geeezzzzzzz now his head is going to swell, shoot, it's hard enough to keep him under control as it is...... (VBG tongue in cheek here.....)

Now, I am a 5'2, 300lb woman.

There are lots of larger riders out there that ride by themselves for fear of being ridiculed by other svelte riders. It happens often. Larger riders are very insecure about themselves for the most part, and you won't see them out in the arena showing too much. I myself, although I weigh loads less than I did still am insecure about showing for fear of being ridiculed. I am about to stuff it though and go about doing what I want to.

I LOVE horses, I learned how to ride on an old >pro. She was a great horse. I now however am becomming scared to ride >another horse.

If you are afraid of riding another horse, I suggest you look for a well built, sound school master for yourself. Young horses are great, but not for a green rider. Green horses and green riders do not a match make for the most part.

I dont think I am a bad rider, I am "green"... I guess my questions are... If my horse(s) trust me will I be a better rider and what do you suggest for me as to learn how to control my own body?

I suggest you take some yoga or do some tai chi. Both are very easy on the joints, but teach balance. Tai Chi also does a lot of movements from the basic riding position. Then take some lessons on different horses. There are trainers out there that do not mind teaching heavy riders. There are many heavy riders out there that ride better than the thin riders. The key is to learn to balance your weight and keep it over the horses center of gravity.

Your horse trusting you will allow you to train the horse easier, but a green horse still has not learned how to balance a rider. Even with some outside training the extra weight will be hard for the horse to learn to balance. Especially with a young horse that is still growing and having to relearn to balance themselves as they grow.

As a heavier rider I feel I must ride a larger horse (14.2hh if muscular and above.

The horse that a larger rider needs is a strong, short backed, close coupled horse. Preferably one with a lot of bone. A measurement just below the knee should be 71/2 to 8 inches or above. Just because the horse is a large horse doesn't mean that the horse is a weight carrying animal. Many people I know have draft crosses. Those horses sometimes grow to be about 15 hands, but are very muscular.

Falling off from this hight is a LONG LONG way)

And getting on one of them is a major accomplishment. (especially if you are 5 ft 2! VBG) I suggest you build a tall mounting block. Some I know have one that is just even with the bottom of the stirrup so all they have to do is to put their foot in the stirrup and climb on.

Are there things I can do?

Tai Chi, Yoga, and joining me on the Atkins diet maybe. I've lost 50 pounds and feel great. I don't feel guilty getting on my 14.2 hand tank of a QH gelding anymore.

Like ride a barrel or something? I know I am not the only LARGE AND LOVELY RIDER (hehehe).

No you aren't, and if you want to find more of them, join the heavyweights email group and yahoogroups.com. There is a big file page where you can find plans to build that taller mounting block, and see photos of other large and lovely riders with their horses. There you can ask all these questions and get answers from people who have been there done that, and found answers to their problems.

Regards, L...

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