Showing while fat
It was so exciting for my instructor to mention that I should show this coming spring season. It then occurred to me that being fat in a world of notoriously thin people could be difficult.
How much will being fat affect my experience? Should I expect rude remarks, bad scores, looks of derision?
I realize that every person is different, and that there are plenty of wonderful and non-judgmental people out there, but I also know that people believe fat people shouldn't be on horses.
I'm really excited to show, but I want to mentally prepare myself.
Probably all of that and more. People can be crazy cruel in the most unexpected places...
Being poorly turned out, poorly prepared, might bring bad marks and derision, and rightly so. If you are underhorsed it might rightly lead to some remarks.
If you and your horse are a good match, if you are well turned out and competent, then who cares what others say. I wish I could promise that you wont lose marks, but in the wonderful world of showing who knows, judges mark up and down on the strangest of things.
Who has time to look at the rider? There are way too many horses out there for that!
Dont do classes that judge against rider- Horsemanship or showmanship (I always get them confused) It judges rider and handler not so much the horse---
My experience on being a seasoned local pro- If you and your horse are flawless- size never matters. I know of a large lady who rides with such grace! It's just STUNNING to watch! A good judge will know how to read a good rider through other signs. Like if they're relaxed, soft hands, mindful seat ect.
But sadly there are superficial freaks who will look at the rider before horse, no matter the class.
Honestly I haven't come a crossed any...yet
I do plan on flawless turn out. My barn stresses that, even in lessons.
I think I would be less worried if I was a good rider, but alas, I'm not. I have a light seat, and soft hands, but I definitely have a lot to work on. I think showing would be a great experience anyway. I have wanted to show since I was a young girl, and I really don't want to let my age (29), or my weight stop me from it.
I'm 28, quite overweight and just got back into showing after a 5 year hiatus. Was I the heaviest rider in my division? Yes. Did I like that fact? No.
However, no one was rude or stared. I just focused on my horse and did my job in the ring. We didn't get any ribbons, but I'm pretty sure that was due to my bad spots or missed lead changes :)
No matter what your size,you need to show for the enjoyment of it above all else. There will always be someone thinner, or with a nicer horse or more money etc. just do your best and get great pictures!
I can't say weight doesn't play a part in judges placings. Many years ago, I was showing in hand with a model mare I had. She won week after week. A gal I know at the barn who wasn't the nicest of people bought a different horse to beat me. It was a nice horse (stud colt) well bred and well turned out. My mare beat that horse as well which made that gal crazy mad and she stormed off. After the show I was at the food court and the judge happened to be there. I flat out asked him why he didn't put the stud up higher in the placings. He said "I shouldn't say it but... that horse will never be big enough for that owner to ride." I was sort of mad because whether or not the rider/handler was heavy, the horse was nice. Not saying he should have beat my mare but, I wouldn't have cried had he beat her once and awhile as he was nice enough. He never did. I don't know if that girl was always seen as too heavy or what but, that comment shocked me.
Now fast forward many years, I am heavier and I think often of that comment from that judge. He probably thought he was safe to say it to me as I was a twig at that point but it stuck with me. Weight matters. It shouldn't matter in the least as long as you fit your horse and do a good job but you WILL run into people who let their personal prejudices affect their placements. If it isn't weight it might be hair color, height, what you are wearing etc... There will always be some personal preference. All we can do, is to the best we can.
The ribbon means nothing, what means something is how much effort you put into it. If you go to the show, well turned out and riding the best ride you can then be happy with the end result. If the judge is decent they will see the performance and judge it for what it is. If it isn't, then their opinion really doesn't matter, does it? Good luck to you.
There are many people on here with questions about weight. As a person who is now heavier then I wish to be, I am always working on it, not just accepting it. If you are working on it, then you know that too and that can be part of your peace of mind as well.
Can I ask, what type of riding do you do and what level are you showing?
I weigh 220lbs and ride a 15.2h mare. I dont think it matters so much is my western gaming because while I will admit Im one of the heaviest at most shows I go to, Im proportionate to my own body and my horse. There's one girl that absolutely hates me for no good reason (I think she knows Im better than she is and she puts me in situations where she knows the green/problem horses I ride and show will do something naughty. She looks bigger than me, but I'll bet she weighs less, but she'll put herself on anything and band-aid the problems..so she's the big teen trainer around here. I take longer to get my horses is show condition and ready to place, but I dont band-aid like she does..and I think that's the only reason she makes remarks about my weight/size/horses.
When I go to a show, I have no problem going into halter/showmanship because my skills show more than my weight to most judges. While I placed dead last the past year with ST in showmanship, I can confidently say it wasnt my weight, but the fact that she didnt want to stand nicely lined up and it was my first time..and I was forced to go in a pink nylon halter because we forgot the other leather halter, lol.
So..depending on how your community is in general, I wouldn't be worried about your weight unless you're trying to ride a tiny pony, haha. No one says anything to me about my weight, and no one says anything to a friend about the fact that height-wise he needs about 2 hands added to his pony's height, lol. His pony will clean up the gaming classes with him, but wont even place with a lighter/shorter rider. It all has to do with how you ride, not height or weight in our gaming shows..
A lot of reiners are "too tall" for the ponies and small horses that they show, but by how they ride, they can get away without it even being noticed. I dont think it'd be too different if you ride well and have a nice turnout with a decent horse being a heavier rider.
As long as you dont talk about other people, people are less likely to not even pay any attention to what you're doing, Ive noticed. The people I do talk about, I talk about because they've said such about me. My horse is crazy because she wont trot a straight line after standing with her buddies (awhile ago)? That's cool..because at least she isnt throwing a bucking fit my whole barrel pattern like your "sane horse". Well..at least that comment wasnt about my weight, eh? Haha.
Anywho though, good luck showing! I think it's a blast (even a never-ending money pit for me at the moment lol), and Im sure you will too. (:
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Thanks for all the replies. I know some people will judge. That is unavoidable in every aspect of life. I just wanted to make sure there wouldn't be blatant rude remarks. I should have a thicker skin by now, but I don't.
Inga, I ride English. I'll be doing a beginner adult class W/T. I have re-hauled the way I eat and exercise and have recently lost 20lbs and counting. Horses and riding have been a huge motivator in this endeavor.
I ride at a really great barn and everyone there is so personable and friendly. It's predominantly a showing barn, Jim Rice Farms. Jim Rice runs over 20 USEF licensed shows on LI. Long Island has a lot of competitive and amazing riders (I love seeing the Hampton Classic) and I think as long as I stay in classes that I am suited for I'll be ok.
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