How Are You Doing?

So, how are you right now, truthfully?

What has helped and why do you think that it has helped? What are you struggling with? 

 

 

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What lies behind the smile?

Here’s where I’m at right now……

I’ll be honest, even before COVID-19 came along, I was struggling! Between this 3 year marathon house build, and not doing any riding, it has taken a toll on my psyche and my waistline. I’ve gained not quite 30 pounds back and it’s taken a LOT of effort to not get thoroughly discouraged in life in general. I’m exhausted! Folks complain about this show / rodeo season being cancelled, but mine has been cancelled for the last 3 years! It’s coming on 4 years since the last time I ran and that can get a horse girl down. 

Then when you add worrying about your health, your finances and then read all the conspiracy and end times stuff floating around out there right now, you really do feel like jumping off into the deep end, especially when you’re someone with a vivid imagination and writer brain that thinks WAY too much! By the way, the jury is still out on the conspiracy theories – I can’t help it, I’m researching. 

Honestly though, how do you get in a good place mentally in the middle of all this craziness, when you really can not do any of the things that bring you joy and that make you feel healthy inside and out? 

I think the answer to that is different for everyone, and you have to make an effort and a decision to feel better, be better. For me personally, in a nutshell it has come down to faith, and focusing on the future to get me through right now. 

Let’s talk about faith a little bit…This is one of those times where rubber has met the road in regards to faith. I’ve been through some very dark trying times that have made me question my faith and made me want to wash my hands of the church community. But you know what? I’ve always made it through – with God’s help. Always. He’s always had favor on me even during the times I most definitely didn’t deserve it. So why wouldn’t He do the same now? If He’s done it before, I have faith that He’ll do it again. Letting go and taking that mindset has given me some rest. It’s not my job to fix everything or save everyone, or even save myself. That’s God’s job so I’m letting Him do it. Besides, there’s not a lot I can do about it anyhow. 

We’re on the downhill side of the house and coming up on a deadline, which I’ll be honest I have worried over. Ask my boyfriend, he’ll tell ya I’ve had quite a few meltdowns over these last 3 years! (He’s been a trooper through it all really and has done such a great job.) Then I look back at where we’ve come from… 

And I get this big sense of pride and hope of what’s to come. I imagine what it’s going to be like when we finally get to move in. No more taking cold showers in 20 degree weather, riding out storms rocking back and forth, finding ice on top of the dog bowl in the kitchen, or making trips to town to do laundry at the toilet chained down laundromat! We’ll have a home that we can enjoy that will have room for what we need that will feel safe. I also remember how fortunate we are to have a place that’s ours to call home and put the horses. There’s a lot of folks that don’t have that so I’m thankful.

The last two years we have gotten record relentless rains. Having 4 horses and a donkey out on a bare lot without a barn has been a big source of stress. Between wading through knee deep mud daily to dump hay with a pair of rubber boots that have a hole, and battling multiple rounds of scratches in every single one of them, it’s been a real source of stress. It’s also been a proving ground and motivator for me. 

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If nothing else, I’ve proven to myself that I’m not a fair weather horse owner. I’ve hung in there even when I’m not getting anything tangible from owning them. It’s also made me learn and figure out things I wouldn’t have if they had been in a better environment. If they had nicer turn out and and barn, I would have kept doing what I had always done with Fireman especially, and Cool. I wouldn’t have figured out what they need nutritionally to be sound, and I wouldn’t have figured out what they needed in a trim either. I’ve learned that works in a barn doesn’t necessarily work in other environments. What works in certain parts of the year may not work in others as well. 

Because of these hard times, I’ve learned so much and I’ve wound up with horses that have healthier feet that will come back stronger than they ever would have before. I’ve also changed my philosophy on horse keeping and that will benefit when we finally have a barn. 

While I’ve gained some weight and gotten soft, the good thing is I know for a fact I can – and will – get back to where I was as a rider when we left off. My last few runs with Fireman were the absolute best they had ever been in my whole entire life – and I was 47 at the time. I know what I need to do and what it takes, which is strength and mindset. I also know that I’ll be hungry for it! That keeps me going as well. 

One thing about it, even after all this my heart still skips a beat when I watch the horses play and run. There’s just something about them that can’t be explained that has always had that effect on me. I just love horses, no matter what. My ass, well he makes me laugh! I make it point though to get some joy out of them daily and that helps as well. 

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Oscar & Toad

If you’re struggling financially to keep your horses fed, Fleet Of Angels and the ASPCA both have mentioned that they have assistant programs for folks that need help right now. 

One of my previous blog posts from a few years ago also has some tips on how to cut your feed costs. Being on an extreme budget with building the house and dealing with hoof issues, here’s a couple of things I’ve learned since that post  – 

  • While they are more expensive, feed balancers are less expensive to feed in the long run. The better the balancer, the less you have to add. You can use a feed conversion tool to figure out how many mg of nutrients are in the feed.  
  • Beet pulp can definitely help cut your feed bill. That said, I have seen an increase in thrush in all of mine even when it’s dry. 
  • If you have hoof issues, Pete Ramey is a good resource to research to use a guide. He keeps cost in mind. 

So, what’s behind YOUR smile? What are you struggling with? What seems to help?   

You CAN and WILL get through this!! 

 

 

Hot Weather Considerations

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Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

We’re at the start of summer and the temperatures have already hit record highs in some places. The high temperatures can impact your horse’s health, especially if they have any issues or if you compete. The key to making it through the hot weather is knowing your horse’s health, good planning, and diligent maintenance.

While fans are the choice of many owners to keep their horse’s cool, there are a few things to consider when using fans in your barn on a regular basis throughout the summer.

One is that fans are one of the top contributors to barn fires. If you use fans in your barn, make sure you check the wiring and clean them on a regular basis.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another thing to consider when using fans is conditioning of your horse, especially if you’re showing or trail riding. When you’re showing in the arena, out on a course or trail, your horse isn’t under a fan Additionally, depending on the venue, you may not have access to a fan or shade while you’re at your trailer waiting on your class.  If your horse is used to being under a fan all day they may struggle in the heat without a fan because they’re conditioned to being cooler.

TOADIE SHOW

Last, consider the ventilation in your barn. Good air flow is important during hot weather. If your barn does not have good ventilation, you’ll want to consider using a fan to keep the air flowing through your barn, especially if you have a metal barn roof without insulation as they tend to heat up even more.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Adding electrolytes to the water or feed and keeping salt available are the two top tips for hot weather. While both do help a horse stay hydrated, there are a couple of things to consider.

If your horse is not drinking enough water, you’ll want to be careful about adding salt to their feed. If a horse isn’t drinking, there’s usually a reason behind it such as their gut being irritated. Horses with issues may still not drink even with the additional salt and can wind up dehydrated from the additional salt.

One thing to consider when adding electrolytes is whether you’re feeding a complete feed. Some feeds already have salt and electrolytes in them. Feeding additional electrolytes can cause an imbalance which results in “Thumps”. When an imbalance occurs, dehydrated can quickly escalate.

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Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Wetting your horse’s feed down or adding soaked alfalfa cubes or beet pulp is a great way to help keep your horse hydrated, especially if they’re not drinking as much as they should be. Not only will it help your horse stay hydrated, but it’s a good colic preventative as well.

If you’re committed to competing throughout the summer, be sure to keep your horse conditioned and acclimated to the heat. If they’re in good condition and used to the warm temperatures, they’ll have an easier time adjusting on show days. Talk with your vet about your horse’s health and develop a game plan for your region to keep your horse ready to compete.

What are your plans for riding this summer? How are you going to help your horse stay healthy through the heat?

 

Rustic Nation Outfitters

This time I talk with Candace Larson who owns Rustic Nation Outfitters. I’ve known Candace for several years now through social media. She’s the real deal in that she doesn’t give up and she has a huge heart and that translates to her business.

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Tell us how the company got started, how long you’ve been in business?

Back in 2015 I signed up as a distributor for a rustic shop while sitting at hotel in Savanna Georgia, while waiting for my daughter to get ready for her college freshmen orientation. It was free to join and I thought, “hey, I could make extra money selling clothes and help pay for the hefty tuition bill that was about ready to roll in.”

Within a few months I had a team of six women under me and was collecting cash on their sales as well. As I started to expand with my marketing and networking reach my sales volume was continually rising….when suddenly I hit a massive hurtle of returns, complaints, random price increases, and other issues; all of which I had no control over.  I quickly realized that the corporate business was in trouble and I had a decision to make. I either had to jump ship or build my own; one that I could control.

Without thought I closed down Sassy’s Rustic and applied for my wholesale license. Within four months I had numerous vendors, a new website, and the new name of, “Rustic Nation Outfitters.

BLACK SHORTS PLUS

 

What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?

 

Mission Statement/Goal: Affordable Pricing for everyone!

This is why our plus sizes will NEVER be a different price than non-plus. We would rather lose the difference on our side, even though we paid a tad more at wholesale. Why? Because how can we say we are treating you like family and yet charge you more for having curves?!? We are wanting to break the double standards that the fashion industry has set. While we understand that plus sizes uses more fabric, it still doesn’t sit well with us that stores charge significantly more for plus size, because they are making more than enough for their non-plus sizes to off set the difference. For example….sometimes we pay $2-4 more at wholesale per piece, but we will not pass that on to the buyer because we make it up in other places. Now some would say this is a horrible business decision but it goes against our philosophy. Plus, when God tells you do something, then you do it and you don’t ask questions.

Western wear is expensive and not everyone has the deep pockets to stay up with the costly trends. Our goal is to change that! Now while we can’t mark everything below retail, you can bet your sassy donkey we marked it as low as we could. We are committed to providing the highest quality at the lowest prices we can, while staying in business.

It’s funny how I started this business to make extra money but now God is using it to help people afford clothing that they otherwise couldn’t, so needless to say, making a large profit is no longer my motivation, or reasoning, or goal to stay in business.

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Philosophy 

Treat all customers like family….why, because it is a proven fact that family gets the VIP treatment. It’s natural for our subconscious to go above and beyond for family members or people we care about over strangers.

This is why we take the time to truly get to know our social media followers. As a matter of fact, when someone follows us, we send them a personal message welcoming them to the family and we ensure we know their real name; and not just their social media one. IG is where we connect the most because the platform allows us to like, comment, and engage with our followers better than other social media sites.

This is why we are able to take the extra steps to ensure that we engage with at least two different followers a day by liking their posts and or commenting, if their profile is in public view. This practice has helped us keep our returns down to Zero for the last six months; because now we recognize when someone, accidentally or unknowingly, orders the wrong size. Had we not of taken the taken the time to connect and learn more about our customers, then we would have never been able to  recognize a buyers name and know when the size ordered is wrong. In cases like this, we pause the fulfillment process and reach out to the buyer and start a dialogue  to ensure we send the right product the fist time.

In closing, every item we send out is prayed over, wrapped like a gift, and includes a personal handwritten thank you note that welcomes them to the RNO Family; some also include scriptures, encouragement, and or etc. All of our packages are hand addressed because it feels more personal. I know at some point we won’t be able to keep up with this practice, as our daily sales continue to grow, but for now it’s about every little detail to let the RNO Family member know we truly care.

We also pray for our RNO Family members daily and for those who have utilized our anonymous prayer request tab on the website.

SKULL

 

What types of clothing do you carry?

 

We have it all really. We have Traditional Western, Boho Chic, Gypsy, Rodeo Wear, and Farm Style.

 

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What are some of your favorite plus size pieces for riding and why? 

 

Hands down it would be our Bullet Blues Bombshell Jeans. They are made in the USA which means they will last. Most jeans nowadays are extremely thin and wear in the seat rather quickly. One of our Ambassadors, has worn hers for over a year at dang near every barrel race and they have yet to breakdown in the seat or inner thigh which are the two hot spots for can chasers. They are durable and yet giving in the places that a rider would need.

Also, can I please disclose that I absolutely HATE the term plus size??? I don’t understand why the industry is separating women into categories! Women are beautiful and we come in all shapes and sizes. I have battled using this term on our website but have found that it is necessary because otherwise our products wouldn’t be found in any google searches. However, I want it on record that I despise it!

Do your plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

This is a loaded question because every brand of clothing runs differently, which is something we are trying to change. Any item not manufactured in the USA will be a hit or miss, which is why we try our best to only buy USA made products. Which takes us back to the price war lol. Anything made over seas is cheaper wholesale and yet sold at high market prices….which is nuts!

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What new items are you looking at carrying? 

We are really excited to have Kimes Ranch Apparel soon! We landed an account awhile back but couldn’t find a way to resale their gear at reasonable prices, until now.

We are doing our best to get Grace In La, however, we have to buy a full run which is about 4K out of pocket! The only way we can make this worth the risk is to sale them  at market value and even then nothing is guaranteed.

We are talking to a designer in LA right now who is apart of the LA Fashion District. If things go according to plan then we might have an exclusive jean made in LA that is targeted to riders of all sizes and under $60 a pair retail!

We also are treasure hunting for new jewelry designers. Our inventory is low right now for a reason. We don’t want to buy everything that is trendy anymore, we want to be the shop where you can get a piece that is unique and yet fashionably acceptable, if that makes sense. This is why we have the Consignment Barn Of Handmade and one of a kind pieces. I think women want jewelry that no one else has and yet they want to pay responsible prices for said unique pieces. We are doing our best make that happen.

We are also going to start looking for models to represent our clothing brand/style in sizes 14 on up. This is a little ways in the future, but it is something we are starting to prepare for now.

CHERYL

Brand Ambassador & Rodeo fan Cheryl

Plus Size Options? 

Are you a company that offers Plus Size clothing and boots for riders? 

Breeches from Fuller Fillies

I’ve had several requests to do a series on clothing and boots for plus size riders. If you carry riding and working attire in plus sizes, give me a shout! I’m looking to interview companies that carry english or western options as our readers come from all disciplines. 

Plus size jeans from Kimes Jeans


Each vendor that participates in the blog series will be featured in an individual post that talks about their company and the products they have to offer. The post will include a full interview, pictures of the items you have to offer, and two profile pics. The post will be shared on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page, and Twitter page, as well as my author pages on social media. 

If you have clothers for actually working in the barn, that’s a bigger plus – no pun intended! 

Drop me an email at qheventer (at) yahoo dot com to get started. 

I Support Rodeo

This week’s post is actually a commentary I made on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page last week…

After a comment about abuse on a rodeo meme pic, I feel like I need to make a statement.

I try not to post political crap on this page because that’s not what it’s about. This is a place for we as horse folks of all disciplines to come together and be encouraged and get a laugh every now and then, but I will take a stand on this.

I support rodeo and I will always support rodeo. I personally have only barrel raced at NBHA jackpots and a couple of futurities, but I’ve never ran rodeo. It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid in the 70’s watching the Hesston commercials for the NFR, and one day I will rodeo, good Lord willing. I have lots of friends that rodeo, have been involved with rodeo ministry in years past, and the love of my life is an old bull rider. So my ties with rodeo come from the heart.

Some folks might assume I’m this way because they think I’m just a barrel racer or that’s all I do. They are sadly mistaken. Yes, I love to barrel race but that’s not all I do or all I am. I’ve shown hunter, trail, western pleasure, judged hunter/jumpers and gaited horses, sorted cows, and even trained saddleseat, western pleasure and halter Arabs for a few years in my twenties. I’ve taken a stretch of lessons for eventing, and even had an event prospect off the race track. I’ve gone to ranch clinics and roped calves for doctoring, and I’ve broke more colts than I can count, a few older horses to boot. So I’ve got a pretty well rounded perspective when it comes to horsemanship and what is and isn’t abuse.

I don’t support true abuse in any event or discipline – rodeo or otherwise. But when someone calls out rodeo and makes a blanket statement that it’s abusive but other disciplines get a pass, I have to stand up. There’s abuse that happens in ALL disciplines. Look at Rolkur in Dressage, or riding horses with broken legs in the Kings Cup Endurance Race, pushing horses past their ability in Eventing, or tying horses up for hours in Western Pleasure.

If putting a flank strap that’s as tight as a rear cinch would be on a ranch saddle or a packing set up, on a horse is considered abuse, then those horse riding/showing folks calling it abuse might want to be aware of the fact that there’s a whole other world out there that adamantly states even riding a horse is abuse because  horses had rather be out grazing and we’re making them carry us around. People say the mere act of trimming whiskers is abuse too, as well as using ANY type of bit. If that’s the definition of abuse, then a ton of us are abusing our horses!

As someone else pointed out in a comment on the post, the folks that call the mere act of riding abuse are out to ban all aspects of riding, and instead of bashing each other’s disciplines it’s important that we come together and support one another. 

Oh, and while I’m at it, they don’t break horses in rodeos and the bucking straps on bulls are not around their testicles. And as far as spurs, I’ve seen far more reining, western pleasure, and gaited horses with bloody sides than I ever have bucking horses.

In addition, if it weren’t for rodeo the bucking horses would be bound to a Mexico slaughter house because they like to buck and no one wants a horse they can’t stay on or that’s dangerous. I’d much rather a horse have two square meals a day, get vet care, and only have to work at most 16 SECONDS every weekend than to see them on a truck for 48 hours without food or water just to be cut up while they’re still alive at the end. Heck, my horses work a LOT harder than they do!

Maybe not all the stock contractors or competitors are perfect when it comes to dealing with bulls and horses (I say get some first hand ranching experience and dealing with irate stock without pens and then you can judge.) But then not every rider that rides a dressage pattern, jumps a cross country course, or rides a class down the rail is either. There are poor horsemanship and stockmanship examples in every facet of the horse world but they aren’t the example of what it’s about, and the exact same applies to rodeo.

Rodeo, the people involved, and all the things it stands for will always be near and dear to my heart. I love and appreciate all disciplines because in the end it’s about what a horse and a rider can do together.

Copyright F.J. Thomas

Tips For Making It Through Fall & Winter

Fall is here and the days are already getting shorter. If you’re like most folks struggling to get quality horse time in between family, working and life in general, you’re probably feeling the pressure of these short days –  especially if you compete or stay active with your horse throughout the fall and winter. While there may be less daylight to fit in actual riding, there are a few things you can do that will help to keep your horse tuned up, and keep you feeling less stressful.

While most folks think of ground work as something only for young horses, it’s actually a terrific tool for seasoned horses. Ground work not only helps keep a horse responsive, but it helps their body to stay freed up as well so that they bend and balance much easier. Things like lateral work, working on bending from the ground, and fine tuning foot work can maintain or help a horse’s ability to perform.

Horses learn through repetition instead of quantity of time. The great thing about ground work is that you can get a lot accomplished in even 5 minutes. If you incorporate ground work into your turn out routine, you can fit a ground work session in twice a day when turn your horse out, and when you bring your horse in.

In years past when I was breaking colts, I would do ground work every time I took them in or out, and sometimes even while they were eating. Not only did it make the breaking process go much quicker, but it also cut down on boring round pen sessions.

My general rule of thumb in incorporating ground work into turn out time is to ask for one to two moves each session. If they do a great job of what I ask on the first try, I quit right then and turn them out. If they struggle, I’ll aim for asking no more than 3 times and quit on their best effort. That way they don’t get over-schooled and get irritated.

You can use the actual turnout as a reward after ground work. More laid back horses will usually try a little harder and will get lighter in their efforts when working when they realize they get to go out. For a more nervous horse, you can delay the turnout so that they don’t anticipate. Those types of horses, I’ll wait until I feel them relax before I quit and let them loose.

Although the work is very short, just a few moments, because it’s consistent and on a routine, they catch on very quickly. It’s a good way to set them up for success.

While you may think that actual ride time is the only way to ultimately improve or maintain your riding, the right type of exercises can have a huge impact on how well you ride. Planks with weights and kettlebell exercises are some of my favorite exercises to help maintain core strength.

If you feel you’ve gotten in a rut with your exercise routine, try to find new positions or moves that reveal body weakness. Just like patterns reveal weaknesses in our horsemanship, changing a position or trying a new exercise can reveal weaknesses in our bodies. It doesn’t necessarily take a big change, sometimes just a change of angle will work completely new muscles in a different way.

A big part of riding comes from the mind. Shorter days and grayer skies can play havoc on our mindset. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real condition that affects many people throughout the fall and winter.

To help combat the winter blues and keep you motivated and focused, be sure to fuel your body with foods that help support your brain. Foods high in vitamin D can help improve mood. 

Also, pay attention to gut health as recent studies suggest that probiotics can have a significant impact on depression and anxiety. Eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables also helps to keep a healthy intestinal tract that encourages the growth of good bacteria.

 Finally, don’t be afraid to just take a break during the winter. Horses and riders both usually come back better and more dedicated after a break. 

There’s a lot of pressure out there to ride through the winter, that if you don’t ride you’re not a real horseman or cowgirl, or you’re not dedicated. That’s just not the case. 

Horsemanship is not about riding the most, it’s about doing what’s right for the horse and keeping your horse where they want to work. You have a limited amount of rides, make the most of them. Sometimes that means taking a break. 

Plus, if you are giving your horse a break that gives you an opportunity to focus in yourself a little more. Use the time to exercise and find inspiration. 

Do you feel pressure to get a lot done as the days get shorter? How do you deal with those feelings? What are ways you can start to feel less pressure when it comes to being a rider?

Let’s Talk About Weight & Horses

Weight is a touchy subject for women, especially for horsewomen that don’t have a positive body image. How many of us have seen posts on forums asking whether or not a rider is too big for a horse? Far too often, at least in my opinion, multiple responses hold up the 20% golden rule that’s the end all be all of whether or not a rider should ride their horse.

For those that may not be familiar with the 20%, studies have shown that the maximum weight a horse – any horse regardless of build or size – should carry is 20% of their body weight. The studies indicate that when a horse carries more than 20% of their bodyweight, their heart rate increases and their muscles fatigue quicker.

 The average 15 hand horse will run around 1,000 pounds, which means the most weight they should carry is 200 pounds.

I ran Beavis on barrels at 185 pounds.

While this may be a good loose general rule of thumb, the problem is that most of these studies that have been done don’t take into account the differences in genetics, conformation, condition, or rider balance and fitness. In addition, there’s not uniformity in the horses and riders that they’re using to determine these results.

To make matters worse, some shows have even gone so far as to ask heavier riders to dismount based on the 20% rule. My fear is that if this taken to extreme, formal rules will be put into place on a larger scale – pun intended – based on studies that never took into account the individuality of horse and rider.

Using this 20% rule as the end all, be all is like saying people that weigh the same can lift the same amount of weight. Go to a weight lifting competition and you’ll see that’s simply not true. It’s not uncommon for smaller lifters to out-lift someone that weighs more than they do simply because they’re stronger.

Weight is not an indicator of strength or endurance but using this 20% rule as an end all be all makes it exactly that.

As a former trainer and instructor that’s ridden a large number of different breeds of horses, and as a competitor that’s been at every spectrum of the scale, I have a good feel of how weight impacts a horse and I know where the differences lie.

 While a rider’s fitness level does have an impact on how well a rider rides, my opinion is that a rider’s strength and balance are what is important. A rider can be strong and balanced but not necessarily fit according to traditional thinking. A balanced rider that is in time with their horse will have less impact on a horse’s back than a rider that’s fit but doesn’t have the best balance.

A rider’s build can also have an impact on how well they ride. If a rider is top heavy, they’re going to struggle more than a rider that carries more weight in their hips. With more weight up top, the physical impact on the horse’s back is going to be different than weight further down.

The same thing goes for horses and how they’re built. It’s common knowledge that a shorter back is stronger than a longer back. Two horses can weigh the same, but the shorter backed horse will be stronger.

My old horse Bluff weight 1200 pounds but he was also long backed.

Conformation and angles also play a role in a horse’s strength. In the barrel racing world, a horse with shorter cannon bones, a long hip angle, and lower hocks is more desired because they’re stronger making them faster coming off of a barrel.

A horse with a good shoulder angle can carry more weight more efficiently than a horse with an upright shoulder angle. Pair a good shoulder angle with correct angles in the pastern and hocks, and they’re even stronger.

Toad is a tough little horse right at 1,000 pounds.

Differences in the depth of the girth can also impact how well a horse carries weight. A deeper girth area allows for greater lung capacity so their endurance is better.

Conditioning also plays a role in how well a horse carries weight. It’s not only whether or not a horse has been worked, but the type of work they are being asked to do. For instance, a western pleasure show horse or hunter horse may be legged up perfectly to go compete in a class, but they may not be legged up enough to go run a barrel pattern competitively.  They need to be conditioned for the event they’re being asked to do in order to carry weight at an optimum level.

Over the years I’ve ridden several horses that I was either right at or a little over the 20% level. One Paso Arab cross mare that I rode weighed right at 900 pounds – 20% would be 180 pounds. There were several years I rode her weighing 185 and my saddle weighed 25 pounds. That mare carried me without any problem at all. We went on hilly trail rides and at the end of the day she had as much energy as she did at the start.

This Paso Arab mare carried me a lot of years at heavier weights and had no trouble.

I currently have two Quarter Horse geldings that both weigh right at 1,000 pounds. One is barely 14.2 and the other is right at 15 hands. I’ve ridden them both at 200 pounds and they carried me as easily at that weight as they do now, and they never tired any quicker than my black gelding that weighs 1250 pounds and is 16 hands.

1250 pounds and 16 hands, 1000 pounds and 15 hands – they carry me equally!

By the same token, I have had some smaller horses that weighed right at the 1,000 pound mark that I was a lot more careful about riding. I could tell they struggled a little more carrying me. This mare below is one of them. When she was green, could buck me very easily – which she worked out of – but she also tired quicker than my other horses did.

To the riders out there that struggle with a positive body image, don’t get too hung up on the 20% rule that gets spouted everywhere. Instead, take a look at your balance and strength and look at your horse as an individual whole.

Ask yourself these questions –

  • How is your balance and timing?
  • How well does your saddle fit?
  • How is your horse built?
  • Is he short backed or long backed?
  • How is the rest of his conformation and muscle?
  • How well is he conditioned?
  • Does he tire when he’s worked? How long does he have to be worked before he does get tired?
  • Does he wring his head or have any behavioral issues that could be caused by being uncomfortable?

If you still have questions of whether or not you’re too big for a horse, find a professional that is experienced with plus size riders. They’ll not only be able to give you an unbiased opinion, but they’ll be able to help you with issues that can be unique to larger riders and smaller type horses.

Weight is just a number. It’s doesn’t tell the whole story, and it doesn’t tell how well you ride or how well your horse can carry you.