Sometimes it seems like folks are making up reasons to be fatphobic.
So when it comes to the health of a horse, are your fears about your overweight friend riding it well founded?
Redditor krr0421 went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to find out.
“AITA for refusing to let my overweight friend ride my horse?”
For background, our Original Poster, or OP, told us about the horses.
“For background, i have 2 horses. Both are older (mid to late 20s), but one is very old (nearing 30), small (just above pony size and just under 1000 lbs) and has some back and hip issues.”
“She is still in great shape for her age, is very muscular, and still enjoys riding. We trail ride up the mountains near our barn, usually 1.5-2 hours a ride, and they can be difficult and steep, but she does great with me (I am taller but weigh around 115 lbs).”
Out of concern for the horses, OP always rides the younger horse who isn’t friendly to new people.
“When I bring friends riding, they ride the smaller, older horse and I ride the younger one. This is because the younger horse is very sensitive and not beginner friendly whereas the older one is not sensitive and great for all levels of riding.”
“Because of aforementioned issues, I am selective about who I let ride her as it’s difficult for her to carry too much weight, especially up the steep hills and for an extended period of time.”
But the older horse, with all of her issues, sometimes has trouble.
“I have a friend who is well over 200 lbs, does not know anything about horses, and asked to ride with me. I said no and was honest about why, but still offered for her to come groom them and spend time with them on the ground.”
“She went straight to the body shaming tactic, ‘I was skinny so I don’t understand, the horse is fine if she’s always galloping around with me, bigger people deserve to ride too, she’s shorter than me so it evens out, I’m gate keeping horses, etc’.”
“I just told her my horse was an animal with limitations, not a machine, and that I’m not going to sacrifice her welfare to spare her feelings. She was furious and we haven’t spoken since.”
“Some friends (who all re also not into horses) think one ride would be fine and I’m being an a**hole about her weight. I strongly disagree, I even agreed with her that bigger people can ride, they just need a horse suitable for their size and my horse is not that. So, AITA?”
Redditors decided where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
People agreed that OP was right to protect the horse.
“NTA. The animal’s welfare comes before someone’s feelings. It’s a bad situation you found yourself in but you did the right thing.”
“There was no ‘nice’ way of telling her No. What more can you do?”~Danny_Mc_71
“NTA, and I say that as a plus size rider. An older, pony-size horse is not an appropriate mount for a heavier beginner.”~sammymalti
“NTA. I’m lighter than your friend but still overweight, and if someone asks my weight for riding (I go every year or two) I will tack on an extra 15-20 pounds because I don’t want to be near the limit of what that horse can carry. I want to be relatively easy on the horse.”~alliteratesaardvarks
“FFS. That stupid ‘body shaming’ chestnut needs to get in the bin. ‘Bigger people deserve to ride too’ but no horse deserves to have its back broken or otherwise be injured for the sake of your feefees. NTA.”
“And what does ‘gatekeeping horses’ mean? They’re your horses, it’s your job to keep them safe and healthy. Of course you’re gatekeeping them.”~blackskirtwhitecat
After all, horses are living creatures; not cars.
“NTA. My ex girlfriend owned and rode horses. She offered to let me ride one of the older horses and I declined. I didn’t feel right putting my 225 pounds on the poor thing.”
“You know your horse better than anyone. And it’s your responsibility to care for its welfare and happiness. You absolutely did the right thing.”
“It’s too bad that your friend took it how she did but she’s probably sensitive about her body. It sounds like a bummer all the way around.”~VTnative
“NTA, you know what’s best for your horse.”
“You shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice the welfare of your horse to please her. If she’s overweight that’s her problem, you’re not body shaming her.”
“She obviously doesn’t care about horses because nobody who genuinely cared about horses would put their own egos over it’s health.”~LilithAr
“NTA: you’re supposed to be gate keeping your horses to both your protect them from danger and prevent people from endangering themselves around your horses.”
“Even if your horse could handle the load a less than physically able person could really hurt themselves falling and I’m not sure you want to open yourself up to that liability.”~GingerGangster
“NTA. I’m sure a stable that offered horseback rides would also tell her that she was too heavy for certain horses. A healthy horse in the US can carry 20% of its body weight and not be seen as being cruel.”
“For example if the horse weighed 1000lbs then the maximum weight it could carry is 200lbs. Your friend is over 200lbs, she is too heavy for even a healthy horse.”
“Next time ask the friends if they would be willing to pay the vet bill for your horse if your other friend injured it.”
“A way to drive it home to your friend is figure out how much the percentage is of her body weight is to the horse’s. Then fill a bag with the equivalent weight that percentage would be using your friends weight.”
“Strap the bag onto her, ask her to walk around with it and see how she likes it. When she complains about it being too heavy then say ‘That weight is what my horse would experience hauling you around. How is that fair to the horse?'”~naranghim
“NTA. I’m not a horse person and I even understand that there are limitations. These are real animals and could seriously get hurt.”
“She could also get hurt riding a younger horse. Especially when she has zero experience.”
“Horse riding is not something you just pick up and do. You did the right thing!”~Bambie-Rizzo
“NTA. Respect for caring for the horse. They are awesome, strong, fast majestic creatures who can also be the most delicate, time-consuming, skittish, over dramatic pieces of glass in the world.”
“You wouldn’t let a twelve year old sit on your baby, so you’re not going to let someone overweight sit on an elderly horse.”~Alternative_Answer
After plenty of advice from Reddit, our OP came back with an update:
“I love sharing my horses with my friends and wish I had bigger, younger horses so I could take everyone riding! I have many friends who have never ridden before because of weight, some are in great shape and still too big for her, some are overweight and too big for her.”
“Those friends have enjoyed coming to visit and loving on them on the ground, and that invitation was extended to this friend as well. She’s not too big to ride in general, she would just need a horse suitable for her and unfortunately neither of mine fit the bill. Her size and other issues unfortunately severely limits who I can take riding.”
The horse, nearing the end of her life, is not likely to be able to handle a rider that is over 20% of her body weight.
When two living creatures come into play, one’s health and safety come before the other’s feelings. It’s relatable to the lockdown from our current pandemic.
We have to keep each other safe.