Globetrotting as a Plus-Sized Rider

In the spotlight, Life as a Globetrotter

Globetrotting as a plus-sized rider - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Hi, I’m Stacey! I’m 35 years old, and I’ve been riding horses on and off since I was about four. My absolute favourite thing to do with a horse is trail ride, but I’ve tried my hand at driving, dressage, and mounted archery in the past. I also happen to be a plus-sized Globetrotter.

I am fat. Plump. In paddock condition. I’m not a ‘big’ girl in the tall, Amazonian sense, or heavy with muscle, or ‘big-boned’, or curvy. Nope: I am of average height, I have average-length legs, thighs that could crush a Viking, short arms, a bottom that should have been grown in Texas (everything’s bigger there!), and boobs that are each larger than my head. I am disproportionate –  I carry all my excess fat around my middle and over my hips, and when I ride I look like a potato on a horse, with tiny little legs jutting out the bottom. I can see it, other riders can see it, guides and coaches can see it, and I am conscious of it in some way every time I dare to throw a leg over a horse.

Occasionally, my weight makes me apprehensive or sad to ride. I become nervous of what others will think of me, of how they will judge my riding ability. I can be hyper-vigilant for whispers of ‘she’s too big for that horse’ or ‘she shouldn’t be riding’. I wonder if I will even fit in the saddle. I worry about being ‘that’ girl – the one who is too slow or unfit for the ride, or irritates others because she refuses to mount from the ground (tree stumps and boulders are my best friends). I have to remember to clip up my racerback bra before a trot or canter lest I end up with black eyes. I carefully curate riding photos to minimise myself, or hide completely. It’s nearly impossible to find comfortable riding jeans for my shape, and boots for my bulky legs. Chaps? Well, just ask Globetrotting’s very own Kate Pilcher, who was adamant that her husband Steve’s chaps would fit my thick calves only to discover, after kneeling on the dirt to assist, that the zip couldn’t get past my shin. The LOL was heard around the world, let me tell you!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Before I stumbled upon and fell in love with the idea of Globetrotting way back in 2014, I would never have imagined I could undertake slow travel, off the beaten track and on the back of an equine friend. I was fluffier than your average bear, and wary of being out of my comfort zone. Although I had my misgivings about embarking on a trip which required me to be somewhat in shape, the lure and delight of being absorbed into a foreign landscape with peers and ponies proved far too tempting. So I threw caution to the hurricane and excitedly booked my first trip to the wilds of Mongolia in 2016! I knew I would probably be the biggest rider in the group, but also held hope that it wouldn’t really matter.

Globetrotting as a plus-sized rider - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

I am so glad to report, dear reader, that nobody gives two flying burritos what size you are. As I became more enmeshed in the Globetrotting community, I swiftly discovered that the inclusivity and support I experienced and witnessed comes from sharing a common interest in exploring the world around us, and the genuine desire to connect with horses. Many of Globetrotting’s lovely ride partners offer rides with a higher weight limit, taking into account the types of horses they have on their team. To me, horse welfare is paramount to both horse suitability and rider comfort, not to mention the overall enjoyment of your trip. For this reason, I have learnt to be honest about – and respectful of – my own limitations and attributes, e.g. saddle fitness, core strength, energy levels, balance, and my ability to carry my own weight when riding. In return, my concerns about weight, experience level, or my chosen ride being out of my fitness league have been met with nothing but encouragement from Globetrotting HQ. Rather than shying away from globetrotting, I’ve just become more and more determined to get out there and give it a red hot crack. It’s not always easy for me, but it’s always worth it!

Aside from the epic escapade that was Mongolia, I have also had the great fortune of completing the Glenorchy Back Country Ride in New Zealand, and the Craig’s Hut & High Country Ride and The Margaret River Ride in Australia. The operators of each of these rides were thoughtful, informed and confident in their horse allocations, and flexible with changing horses, scheduling activities and adjusting tack to accommodate their guests (like the time I bagged a luxurious Western fender saddle… drool!).

This year, I will be gleefully taking my COVID kilos on two more Globetrotting adventures: the Yarra Valley Ride and the Rainbow Beach, Bush & Cattle Ride. Hip hip hooray!

If you are a plus-sized or bootylicious globetrotter in need of some ridespiration, check out my list of rides that tick all the boxes for fun, comfort, quality, value for money, and weight/experience inclusion!

TOP 5 GLOBETROTTING RIDES FOR GOOD DOERS:

The Margaret River Ride, Australia

Glenorchy Back Country Ride, New Zealand (see also The Patagonia Trail, Argentina)

Castle & Estate Ride, Ireland

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland (see also Khovsgol and Arhangay Rides, Mongolia)

Ranch Riding in Shell, Wyoming, USA (see also the Big Horn Cattle Drive and British Columbia, Canada)

Okay, okay, that might be more than five rides. But who’s counting when there are so many to choose from?!
Happy globetrotting, my plus-sized posse!

Globetrotting as a plus-sized rider - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

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