No horses at commercial stables for me to ride. What should I do?
October 29, 2018 4:46 PM   Subscribe

About a year ago, I asked a question about horseback riding for a man of my size (6'8" 250lbs, 39" inseam). I've since spoken to 5 commercial stables (ones that teach beginners on their own horses) within 50 miles of San Diego, and none have a horse they're willing to let me take lessons on. Do I have any options other than buying a horse? Thanks
posted by BadgerDoctor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So sorry that you haven't had luck yet! As I'd mentioned in the last post, commercial places often set lower weight limits and are unwilling to make exceptions if they don't know you. Before you jump to buying a horse, I'd encourage you to see if you can find individuals who might have a horse they would be willing to let you try. There are also various forms of leasing (full lease, where you basically pay rent on a horse and cover its upkeep; partial lease, where you pay less money to split the horse with other people and may or may not pay upkeep; free lease, which usually requires you pay upkeep but not additional fees, etc) are available with varying levels of formality and price. You might want to try equine social media in you area (I lurk on a Facebook page for horse-related buying/selling/advertising for the Northeast). Joining one of those groups or one explicitly for large riders might get you personal connections. When I was last riding, I was at a weight that would have been denied at most commercial places, but I made friends with owners of suitable horses and ended up with a bunch of opportunities to ride.

If you're interested primarily in English disciplines, the Chronicle of the Horse has a riderless horses and horseless riders forum which might give you a sense of how people advertise to find an opportunity. (That said: I find the Chronicle to often be pretty fatphobic and sizeist, but there are some friendly people on there who may know someone who knows someone...) Good luck, OP! Hope you find a horse soon!
posted by TwoStride at 5:14 PM on October 29, 2018

I would try to find contacts in the local riding community (facebook groups, etc.) and explain your situation.

You may be able to get lessons at a private facility. The other option short of owning a horse is part-boarding (or leasing, which is functionally similar), but you might have trouble finding someone willing to part-board to a complete beginner.

Most commercial facilities only have lesson horses sized for children and average-sized women. It would be pretty terrifying for a smaller person to learn to ride on a 17 hand draft horse, so there's not much demand to have one around.
posted by allegedly at 5:24 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

From a quick google, here advertises that they can accommodate heavier riders on beach rides with draft horses, but also offers lessons. They may be worth a call to see what they can offer, and if not lessons, maybe at least a beach ride?
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 5:44 PM on October 29, 2018

Sorry if you've already queried them: Silver Spur Riding School (Torrey Highlands area) offers lessons on Clyde, a quarter horse that's 16.2 hands tall.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2018


As was the case with my previous question, your advice is just fantastic. Thanks!


1) Your observation about lack of demand for 17+ horses makes complete sense. If I owned a commercial facility, there's no way I'd have a horse for the 0.000010 (1 in 100,000) percent of the US population that's 6'8" or taller

2) What constitutes a "private facility" in the horseback riding world? If possible, could you (and/or anyone else reading this) please suggest some Google searches I could do to find ones in my area?


Thanks for the link to Pony Land. They have a couple of draft horses, but said that for insurance reasons they're only used for pulling multi-person wagons/stage coaches.

Iris Gambol:

Have indeed spoken with Silver Spur. They don't offer lessons to anyone over 220lbs. Thanks for the suggestion and link all the same.
posted by BadgerDoctor at 7:09 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Badger--for "private facility," think smaller, family-owned operation. Your 8-stall barns and the like. Horse owning circles can be very insular, so there's also a ton of facilities that are commercial but also don't advertise broadly (ie, they're for serious lesson programs/private boarding more than the one-off tourist beach ride or birthday party). Did you try contacting a tack shop in your area? They might be able to refer you to someone or they may even have a physical or virtual message board... Maybe the San Diego Saddlery?
posted by TwoStride at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2018

Long shot - Bright Valley Farms, in Spring Valley, offered lessons and guided trail tours; its policy was a 190 lbs. maximum weight limit, with any rider above that obliged to use a draft horse for a small added fee.

Last year, Bright Valley became Iron Oak Canyon Ranch. I'm not seeing anything about a weight limit or the availability of draft horses on the current instruction page, but perhaps it's worth a call or email to check?
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:12 PM on October 29, 2018 lets you pick location, service, and horse breed - "lessons" and "draft" (though you can be more specific for bigger breeds) returned several hits for facilities in the SD area.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2018

Yeah, private = smaller operations that never or rarely advertise because they get enough business through personal contacts and word of mouth. There are a few ways to build social contacts - online communities, tack stores, groups or events related to some riding activity or competition.
posted by allegedly at 8:40 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hey, so most trail places/ rental stables are pretty low rent to be honest. An actual trainer should have a horse for you or know someone who does. They won't be a "commercial stable" or rental place but will rent a facility or part of a facility and do a mix of training horses, teaching people who own horses and teaching some beginner adults. They all know each other and know who has a bigger horse or caters more to guys. There are LOTS of 17hh+ horses in San Diego, trust me, thousands upon thousands of them. Also lots of draft crosses, which can carry some weight and are often sold as "husband horses". Many pro sports guys in So Cal have horses and they are often your size, you are not that heavy for your height and many dressage riders, including me, are 6' tall or over. You are definitely not alone.

Do you want to ride western or English or don't care? Do you want to jump or trail ride? I might be able to give you specific recommendations if you give a bit more info.
posted by fshgrl at 10:16 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

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