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Tricky situation...plus-size rider

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  • Tricky situation...plus-size rider

    So today I met with a woman who would like me to put some miles on her horse, who is currently for sale. Mare is a nice little Missouri Fox Trotter. Key word small, 14.1h tops and very, very refined. Spunky, but quiet and easy to handle.

    Owner is kinda new to the horse world, but seems to have a good grasp on the basics, horsemanship, etc. Problem is, Mare is a bit too much for her under saddle. She hasn't been ridden in a few months after she bucked her owner off. Owner is afraid to get back on Mare, but is definitely wanting to get another horse, preferably a quiet, beginner-perfect gelding.

    Owner is a bit...heavier...than I would recommend for a horse this size. I didn't get the feeling that the mare was being naughty when she bucked, and I'm kinda leaning towards she may have been in pain. Owner hasn't had her very long, and had only ridden her a couple of times prior to the unplanned dismount, which thankfully only wounded her pride.

    Tricky situation part: Owner admits to being afraid to get back on, but also feels like she should, just to conquer her fear. Normally I would be all about that, but I honestly don't know if its a good idea. Owner says Mare goes well for other people, just not her, which leads me to think she's just too heavy for her, thus causing her pain. I didn't give her a solid yes or no about her climbing back on, using the "well I'd like to ride her a few times to gauge how she is first". I'm hesitant to put her up, even for just a few minutes, in case Mare bucks her off again and wounds her pride even more and possibly causes physical harm.


    Any thoughts??
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  • #2
    I'd ride the mare a few times first, making sure it's weight and not a bad saddle (or a bad saddle made worse by weight.)

    And if it IS that she's too big, if she's selling the mare anyway, is there any way you could get her on a steady-eddie, LARGER-BONED horse who's okay with a rider her size and who is unlikely to do anything confidence-jarring? I appreciate the 'get on to conquer the fear' sentiment and I agree, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the same horse. After I'd taken too many crashes off my very green OTTB who was NOT ready to be jumping what he was, the new trainer put me on the oldest, dead-headed-est mare in the therapeutic riding program and kept me on a longe line for the first couple lessons. Once I was able to get on A Horse without having a nervous breakdown, we started back with my own horse. I really needed to be on a horse who wasn't going to try anything
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    • #3
      I have know horses with their riders exactly as you have mentioned.

      It is a tricky situation, just as you say.

      Sounds like the horse is not conditioned or strong enough in the back to support the rider. Thus bucking, and maybe fear on the horse as to the rider, and more unplanned behavior.

      Good luck!

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      • #4
        You don't need to mention her size, I expect she know about it.

        You could tell her the mare is a bad match, too hot for her and getting on her won't help her confidence any.
        She needs to get the right horse and then regain her confidence with that horse.

        As an advisor now, you really carry some responsibility if she gets dumped and hurt, so don't fudge if you don't think she should ride the mare.

        Wash your hands if she doesn't listen, which she really should under the circumstances.

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        • #5
          Sigh.

          I've got the wine, who has the popcorn?
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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by danceronice View Post
            I'd ride the mare a few times first, making sure it's weight and not a bad saddle (or a bad saddle made worse by weight.)

            And if it IS that she's too big, if she's selling the mare anyway, is there any way you could get her on a steady-eddie, LARGER-BONED horse who's okay with a rider her size and who is unlikely to do anything confidence-jarring?
            I definitely plan on riding her to feel her out. She is more than happy to ride other horses, and has since her fall. She just doesn't want to ride HER horse, but at the same time thinks she should get back on to conquer the fear.



            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
            You don't need to mention her size, I expect she know about it.

            You could tell her the mare is a bad match, too hot for her and getting on her won't help her confidence any.
            She needs to get the right horse and then regain her confidence with that horse.

            As an advisor now, you really carry some responsibility if she gets dumped and hurt, so don't fudge if you don't think she should ride the mare.

            Wash your hands if she doesn't listen, which she really should under the circumstances.
            No, I won't mention her weight. I'm not that mean She actually hinted at that herself today. The good thing is, she knows the mare isn't for her so she is actively wanting to sell or trade her for a more beginner-friendly horse. I am ever-grateful for that!
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            • #7
              I'm a plus sized rider. I don't think the situation needs to be tip-toed around. You can explain your thoughts in a matter of fact way, without being unnecessarily mean, and I doubt the person will be totally surprised or emotionally hurt by it.

              This just isn't the right horse for her, nor is she the right rider for the horse. Help her find the right horse so she can move on!
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              • #8
                IMO for a novice rider, getting back on a horse that unloaded you is not an automatic confidence builder. Getting on a horse that won't unload you is a better confidence builder.
                I am not a novice and I have sometimes had to force myself to get back on a horse that just dumped me. Once back on putting the horse to work does restore confidence for horse and rider but that can go along with having the tools to put the horse back to work, which a novice rider doesn't have.
                She is not going to keep the horse, she would be nervous getting back on this horse, it could do it again. All reasons for her next ride to be on a nice quiet horse so she can relax.
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                • #9
                  I'm a fat rider and I second VCT's sentiment. If it does come down to weight (not size), then just tell her you think she was too heavy for such a small horse. Just say it. She sounds open to hearing your advice. I'd use heavy not big though -it's really about being too heavy for the horse.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                    You don't need to mention her size, I expect she know about it.

                    You could tell her the mare is a bad match, too hot for her and getting on her won't help her confidence any.
                    She needs to get the right horse and then regain her confidence with that horse.

                    As an advisor now, you really carry some responsibility if she gets dumped and hurt, so don't fudge if you don't think she should ride the mare.

                    Wash your hands if she doesn't listen, which she really should under the circumstances.
                    Bluey, this is kind, useful advice.

                    As has been said on every. single. weight. thread. most heavy people know they are heavy. They don't need their faces rubbed in it. And in this case, it almost sounds like the owner is hinting that she knows she is too heavy for the mare, and really needs help finding a nice big-boned gentle gelding, and with getting the mare in better riding shape and ready to sell.
                    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                      You don't need to mention her size, I expect she know about it.

                      You could tell her the mare is a bad match, too hot for her and getting on her won't help her confidence any.
                      She needs to get the right horse and then regain her confidence with that horse.
                      Well.... she's heavy, a beginning rider/virgin HO (first time horse owner), she's scared and she's smart enough to want to sell as well as ask for your help.

                      With all of those ingredients, why make a big deal out of the fear and weight thing on this one horse? Let her know that she doesn't have to prove anything to anyone by getting back on a horse that's not right for her anyway. You can let her know that the vast majority of people out there make mistakes with the first one they buy. You also can let her know that 14.1 feels small to me. I'm 5'1" and got me some bootay. But the littleness of the pipsqueak and that neck that's too low and ends to quickly in front of me is the problem.

                      Can you find her another lesson horse to ride in the meantime? Riding should be a pleasure, not a "heart in your mouth" thing and certainly not something that messes with your self-esteem. Get her onto the right horse and let her know that it's OK to want that. After all, she's going to put a lot of time, money and effort into this whole thing. It's OK for her to feel that she deserves a nice ride.
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                      • #12
                        If owner is selling mare and is confident on other horses, there is really no need for her to ride this one to build confidence, IMO.

                        I would approach it like this: "Sally, sometimes a horse and rider are just not suitable for one another. I think that's the case with you and Cupcake. You're doing great with the other horses, and there's really no reason to compromise your confidence further. Perhaps it's time to put Cupcake on the market and start looking for a more suitable horse. I can help you this time so that you find a horse that is compatible with you physically and at a suitable level for your riding ability. It's probably best if I ride Cupcake while she's for sale, to get her going so that she'll bring the best price. In the mean time, lets try some different horses and get a feel for what you like, so we can find you a great match."

                        If she flat out asks, "Is it because I'm too fat for Cupcake?" You can respond with a tactful answer that doesn't skirt the truth, which she already suspects: "You know, Sally, some horses are very sensitive to how weight is distributed. Cupcake has a very light build, and it could be that she just can't carry a rider over XXX pounds. I think you would be more comfortable with something with more substance."

                        You can approach her compatibility with the horse in a manner that addresses the very real compatibility problem without saying, "Sally, you're too fat for your horse." She needs a horse that is fun and safe. It won't be either if it's not happy with her on its back!

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                        • #13
                          If it seems she really knows her weight and this horse are a bad match, then I probably wouldn't mention her weight being the issue.

                          If she doesn't seem to make the connection, a straightforward talk about matching up rider and horse in all categories would be a big help. Not just the weight alone. Like discipline type, personality, size, etc.

                          But I would mention weight in there otherwise she may end up with another incorrectly sized horse. She did choose a small fine boned one the last time. Why let her make the same mistake twice?
                          You jump in the saddle,
                          Hold onto the bridle!
                          Jump in the line!
                          ...Belefonte

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks all. I am very impressed that this woman is acknowledging her shortcomings as far as a rider, and is ready to move on to another horse once Mare is sold. I'm meeting with her again on Saturday, hopefully to ride Mare this time (weather permitting!) and I'm going to talk to her about marketing ideas and such. There are so, so many nice, quiet geldings out there who would love to pack her around trails and not so much as flap an eyelash. She said she would ultimately love to trade Mare, so I think we're going to explore that venue.


                            I definitely didn't want to bring up her weight; I was just caught off-guard when she said she might like to hop on one more time. There are horses she can ride, and probably even my gelding, depending on how spookified he is after he settles into his new home.

                            I really like her already. I hope this works out!
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