Ryan On the Run: The Time Has Come

2014-07-07T20:32:01+00:00By |Culture, Style|

“They look like two little tanks.”

That description accompanied a very good hunter round I had just completed on a stallion pony I was catch riding at the Carousel Horse Show, in Antioch, CA in the mid 1990s. That line, written on the judge’s card, made it no big mystery as to why I placed second to the other rider, who had chipped a few fences. I was 13 years old, 5’2″, and if I remember correctly, around 135lbs. I wasn’t a skinny kid, but I wasn’t exactly obese either.

All the same, those were some fairly scathing words (coming from the judge, no less!) and they reinforced the notion that riding was all about how you look. It was clear that I would rarely beat other riders in the hunter ring because of my “look.” Thankfully, I loved to ride, so I kept going, and kept enjoying my burritos.

It is almost impossible to know where to start a story like this. Do I start with my own family’s chronic struggles with weight? Or when I was finally in great shape, only to have a major fall and spend eight months on my butt, wherein I discovered a love of video gaming and Ben & Jerry’s.  I think perhaps, the best place to start is where it ended. Recently, I attended a mini-family reunion and by no exaggeration and to be quite blunt, I was easily the fattest person in the room. That was my mental turning point, and the wheels began turning…

I have known for a long time that I needed to get rid of my extra weight. But there was always a reason why I couldn’t. Busy. Work. Kid. A friend told me there was no reason I couldn’t set aside an hour everyday for myself to get healthy, but why go out and sweat when I could stay right on my couch and read the news?

I never meant to stop riding. I had a moderately successful junior career. I regularly placed second to the better-known juniors in my area, including Hope Glynn (then Hobday) and others. I grew up on my family’s Thoroughbred farm, and ponies were always available to me. Of course, growing up all I wanted to ride were my mom’s young Thoroughbreds, and I finally got the chance with Mr. Bill, a wonderful, sweet TB gelding. I had a ball with him in the low hunters, but part way through my senior year of high school we lost him to a pasture accident. It was a bad time to start over again with a new horse, so I decided to focus my energy on what I was really good at: art and design.

ryan-mrbill-sha-94Mr. Bill and I showing in Sacramento, CA when I was 15 years old. 

Fast forward ten or so years. I haven’t ridden on a regular basis since I was in my early 20s. It’s one of the things I miss the most in the world. But at my present weight of 235 pounds, and height of 5’2” I would be far from comfortable in a pair of breeches and tall boots. I know my center of balance is skewed, my stamina is shot, and the idea of trotting in general makes my calves cry. But I want to get back to a body frame that will allow me to chase after my 3-year-old daughter without getting winded after 10 steps. And one that will allow me to get back in the saddle, after too many non-riding years.

So here I am, on the fitness trail in a big way, and with an even bigger dose of accountability. Not only because I’ve chosen to chronicle my journey here on horseandstylemag.com. I’ve also got an acounntabilitibuddy, a fellow rider and friend, Erin Critz. Erin is a three-day event rider, and writer for EventingNation.com. She too wants to get down to a trimmer, fitter frame to further her abilities on horseback. I approached her a few weeks ago, having known her from her hunter jumper days when I worked at the shows she was riding at. We live close to each other in Northern California, and I threw out the idea of starting this path together. Thankfully, she is up for it, and we’ll be co-blogging our respective progress, me here on Horse & Style online, and her over on EN. Check out her first post here. Having someone along for the ride means everything!

ryan-erin-CFFConsider this the “before” picture. That’s me on the left, Erin Critz on the right. We’re outside California Family Fitness in Elk Grove, CA, our new second home.

It is not that myriad friends and family haven’t told me for years that I should try shedding some weight. But anyone with some extra weight can attest that it doesn’t matter how many times you are told that you are too fat and unhealthy; if you don’t care about the accountability, and the consequences of that extra weight, you’ll just keep carrying it around.

So, herein marks the beginning of a fitness blog in which failure is not an option. Today only marks Day 15, but so far, I’ve lost seven pounds. A combination of weight training, cycling and miles on the treadmill have done wonders to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

The time has come for me to care. I am missing out on fun hikes, being comfortable in a pool, sailing with my friends, riding horses, and being a good example for my daughter. This time, it will work.


  1. Jacqui Richards July 7, 2014 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Best of luck!!
    I am in the same boat having put on stacks of weight and now getting back into riding. I have signed up for an adventure race in Fiji (I am in New Zealand) in October so have started my training to use this to fitten me up for this seasons competitions!

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      thanks Jacqui! Let me know how it is going as you progress!

  2. Cheri July 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    You go girl!! I don’t know you but I am cheering you on and look forward to following your progress! !

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply


  3. Don DeFranco July 8, 2014 at 12:51 am - Reply

    I think you just broke my heart open a little with your courage and honesty.
    Truly -you are one of the bravest and audacious women that I know. I have no doubt that you will do anything you set your mind to.
    I’m proud to be your friend.

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      you are so funny! I do my best to bring humor to these situations. I am not broken hearted! Neither should you be!!!

  4. Kristen July 8, 2014 at 2:01 am - Reply

    I am starting from an almost identical place, and had my realization at about the same time. When I realized that I was avoiding going out into the barn because I hated the struggle to get my boots and breeches on, it just clicked. It didn’t matter what it took. I’m blogging my progress to. Can’t wait to see you hit your goals!

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      I know exactly what you mean. Have had times where I didn’t go somewhere because I knew I would be uncomfortable! Keep it up!

  5. rachel July 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Good luck, ladies. You can do it!!

  6. Jacqueline July 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    You can do it! Three years ago I started my own journey. I’m 60 lighter, went from not being able to run 2 minutes to completing my third half marathon in April. And I’m finally back in the saddle after nearly ten years off — first show is coming up! This was the HARDEST thing. No magic bullet, and I hated every step I ran (and still do…) But I was determined and stories like yours keep me motivated to keep striving for a healthier weight. Good luck! You can do it for sure!

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you Jacqueline. I too am not a fan of running… I hope I can do anything but!

  7. Marshelle Keville July 9, 2014 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Ryan I love and know you can do this. I may have moved to the opposite coast but I will check in and cheer you on. I have been working on the same thing for over a year and it has had it’s ups and downs. Luckily the downs are outweighing the ups and I have one last hurdle to struggle over. I want to get back in my custom chad belly that was made for me when I was 23. I have it hanging not the refrigerator door. Hope it works by the time I have a horse ready to show.
    Good luck and stay the course!

    • ryan July 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marshelle! I didn’t know you moved! Message me on facebook and let me know how it is going!

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