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Help for an obese ex-rider

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  • Help for an obese ex-rider

    I have an internet friend who has been trying to get back into riding after a long absence. She has depression, but has been trying hard to overcome it and have the impetus to ride again. She's contacted a couple different trainers but no one will contact her back to set up lessons. With the depression, it's hard enough for her to reach out and make contact. When she gets the cold shoulder, it makes another attempt that much harder.

    I don't know how heavy she is, not having met her in person, but she lives a normal life, working and caring for her dogs. She feels that her mental status will improve if she can start riding again.

    She rides Western, but might be willing to take lessons in an English discipline, if that's the only way she can get some horse time. She wants to start slowly, just walk-trot.

    Does anyone know of a trainer in the Evansville area who would take on an obese rider?


  • #2
    Don't know anybody in that area, but I'd send her to this blog


    The gal that writes the blog might have some ideas for her.
    Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!



    • #3
      I don't even know where Evansville is so I can't help you there. I find it hard to believe that no one will even call her back unless she is leaving a message stating she is a giant fatty and wants to ride their horses. Its not like they can see her weight through the phone. I would imagine they would be more inclined to help her get started in the right direction if she just asked to come tour the farm and meet the instructors.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • #4
        If she is very large (and I have been large so know how hard it can be) she might want to try driving for a while. Driving is a BLAST and works on many of the same principles as riding (bend, relaxation, rhythm etc etc) And as she gains more confidence and sheds pounds she can then get into riding... if she wants to lol!


        • #5
          How about starting as a side walker for a local riding for the handicapped program, or helping at a rescue?
          Just anything else like that, rather than riding itself, that may be a big chore for her right now, more apt to fail.
          Riding can come later, maybe, once she has started getting out and participating in horse activities some.

          Seems that riding is just one more castle in the sky thing, right now, that she may not follow thru anyway because of excuses, like her weight.
          Depressed people are more apt to get out of their depression better if they don't start reaching for the harder ideas of what they would do if...
          Start little, see how it goes.


          • Original Poster

            Laurierace - Evansville is in southern Indiana.

            She's contacted two barns. The first never got back with her (and she took as a rejection and didn't push it. I told her maybe they lost the number, etc.). The second barn she went out and the woman said she would be able to start lessons, then backpeddled and wanted to charge her $20/hour for the privilege of grooming and tacking up for other riders. She's willing to donate her time and groom or sidewalk, but she doesn't want to pay to do it.

            She's been unemployed for over a year, and now that she's employed, the first thing she wants to spend her money on is horses.

            I'll recommend the blog.



            • #7
              I figured Indiana was the most likely City but its not the only one in the US so I didn't want to assume. Too bad its not closer to MD. I would let her do all the free work she wanted to do and sweat the pounds off her. I can't be the only one who feels that way, she just needs to keep looking.
              Last edited by Laurierace; Jul. 18, 2010, 06:02 PM.
              McDowell Racing Stables

              Home Away From Home


              • #8
                ---"The second barn she went out and the woman said she would be able to start lessons, then backpeddled and wanted to charge her $20/hour for the privilege of grooming and tacking up for other riders. "---

                Sorry, that just doesn't make any sense.
                Ask her again what she meant in that story.
                If it still sounds like that, have her recheck with that stable, or definitively go somewhere else where people are not crazy.


                • Original Poster

                  Bluey - They called it "Ground Lessons" and wanted to charge regular lesson rates for it. She's had her own horse, she wants a place to help her get restarted, and to board there when she was ready to buy.

                  Laurierace - I've been encouraging her to keep persisting, but I think when you have depression it's hard to get the impetus to tryin the first place, and even harder if the first place doesn't work out.



                  • #10
                    I second (or third) the suggestion to volunteer at a therapeutic riding facility.

                    Find one here: http://narha.org/narha-centers/find-center

                    She can get out and be around horse, help others, *and* make connections to start lessoning for herself.

                    Good luck to her. I hope she finds a good situation.


                    • #11
                      Volunteering at a rescue is also a way she could get time with horses. I would pick a draft rescue rather than a rescue that focuses on ponies. If she is heavy, she should get to know drafts. Most drafts don't care how big their rider is as long as they don't have to work too hard.


                      • #12
                        Maybe your friend should visit a few barns and speak with the BM/BO.
                        She seems to be taking a "no call back" personally and she shouldn't. Who knows who took the message and what they did with it.
                        A face to face approach is always the best way to get started at a barn.


                        • #13
                          When she is initially calling/asking in person about paid lessons, she shouldn't let on that she's willing to volunteer to help out as well. It might make people take advantage of her rather than seeing her as a paying client.

                          The "ground lessons", I don't get. I've seen instructors to that with complete beginners, but it was the beginner student's own lesson horse they were grooming/braiding/tacking up. It was just learning the basics before getting in the saddle. If she already has experience she wouldn't need it.
                          But I never heard of it being basically a groom for other riders. Are you sure she got that part right?
                          Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Coanteen View Post
                            The "ground lessons", I don't get. I've seen instructors to that with complete beginners, but it was the beginner student's own lesson horse they were grooming/braiding/tacking up. It was just learning the basics before getting in the saddle. If she already has experience she wouldn't need it.
                            But I never heard of it being basically a groom for other riders. Are you sure she got that part right?
                            Hm. I might pay for 'ground lessons' - but I wouldn't necessarily pay the same as for a riding lesson, and I would also expect to be learning theory and similar things, not just basic skills.

                            I would not pay for a 'ground lesson' just to tack up a horse before riding - I consider that part of a normal riding lesson that you tack up and untack - but a 'ground lesson' that focused specifically on understanding saddle fit? That's complex enough it could be worth spending some time on.
                            Likewise, feeding and nutrition, types of wrapping and how to do it properly, horse first aid, maybe braiding/clipping/general show presentation, lunging and long-lining, trailer maintenance and handling... Basically topics it's good to know about if you take the plunge into having your own horse, so you're not completely in the dark when issues come up.

                            Though if the person has already owned a horse, it's quite possible none of those things apply to her.


                            • #15
                              Tell her to just call around some more. Also check the classifieds for folks looking for someone to lease their horses. Leasing a horse might be a nice and confidence-building way to get back into riding, especially if she has some horse experience and has owned a horse. It would require less contact with other people, and she would probably be a big boon to someone hoping to sell a well-trained horse.
                              Also, though, I've encountered a lot of bizarre things from trainers. There are a lot of weird people out there, and a ton of stable owners just are not good at connecting with people or returning messages. I would also recommend visiting some nearby stables during business hours to watch their lessons.
                              She doesn't have to take the first offer. She can shop around a little. With her experience, the trainers are probably lucky to have her riding their horses, not vice versa.
                              There are plenty of warmbloods or half-draft crosses around in this day and age. So long as she's fit enough to be active and work and everything, she's probably just fine to ride.


                              • #16
                                Hopefully she has found somewhere suitable in the past seven years.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home


                                • Original Poster

                                  Well, as an update, she did start lessons, but barn drama (the barn was also a "rescue", doing some not-so-great things) drove her off for a while. But she's back taking lessons on a draft cross, trail riding and regaining her confidence.



                                  • #18
                                    Good glad to read she is back in the saddle !

                                    Can make a huge difference in the life of a depressed re-rider ...just wandering on horseback without stress is beneficial - I've seen this re-start work wonders.
                                    Treat others the way you want others to treat you ~ on your threads !