A while ago, I was offered the opportunity to do a book review for “Riding Through Thick & Thin - Make Peace with Your Body and Banish Self-Doubt - In and Out of the Saddle” by Melinda Folse. As a former recreational horseback rider, back in my early teens and with more readers looking for information on this topic, I immediately said yes. So over the last couple of months, I have been emerged in this 418-page book.
At a high level, I view this 12-chapter book as organized into 3 main sections with each area encompassing stories from plus size riders called “Voices of our Sisters”, Myth Busting facts and #Hoofpicks nuggets summarizing key learnings.
The first section of the book provides a lay of the land in society today, of common body image issues and judgements that women face in general, as well as within the horseback riding community. She cites examples such as the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video, and in re-watching it, it always breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes, to see just how critical women are of themselves with regards to their beauty. But I ALSO KNOW, in many areas of their life. We are all beautiful inside and out. End of story.
The next section for me, is the heart and soul of the book as Melinda, along with body image, fitness and riding experts, marry practicality and advice in finding and riding your ideal horse. Everyone agrees that a horse has weight limits, but there is a lot of misinformation out there that is preventing special bonds being formed between a rider and horse. Some of the topics that are addressed include:
- challenging the rule of thumb that horses can only carry 20% of their weight
- knowing the various types of horses and which activities they are ideal for - speed, endurance or recreational activities
- types of questions to ask potential barn owners when finding your ideal horse (this is my favourite as sometimes we can be at a loss for words)
- the biomechanics of riding and what aspects can positively/negatively impact your riding experience for you and your horse
- fitness exercise movements that can help you be a stronger & fit rider (weight loss not required)
“You know the best thing I did for my big mare? It wasn’t lose weight, because she was just as happy carrying me at 309 as she is carrying me at 260…it was buying a saddle that fit her well”. - Amanda, afatgirlafathorse.blogspot.com
The last section of the book focuses on creating a better you by challenging the way you currently view yourself. While earlier chapters offered tips on building a stronger physical person, this section really focuses on how to remove the negative self talk that you carry and may impact the authentic relationship and experience you have with your horse and others. From mindfulness and visualization exercises to online quizzes that provide a snap shot of how you are currently thinking today and where to focus, Melinda provides a plethora of options to help you banish your self doubt and get more of out of your life.
Once I’ve read a book, I usually like to pass it on for someone else to enjoy. But this one is going to stay on my bookshelf. The title “Riding Through Thick & Thin” refers to more than just horseback riding, it’s truly a compassionate and practical resource, to guide you through this ride called life.
Many thanks to Melinda and her team for the opportunity to be re-emerged into this world I once knew, and igniting an inner spark and desire, to want to return. Happy trails to all.
About the Author:
Krista is the Founder of Born to Reign Athletics, a blog + portal website dedicated to motivating, educating and celebrating plus size women who unleash their inner athlete as a means of living a healthy life. She is an award-winning multi-sport athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and is recognized as a global leader in plus size fitness and athletics.