Great news!

StickySeat is in the beginning stages of producing plus size breeches! That’s right, StickySeat has realized the demand for extended sizes and they are ready and more than willing to accomodate the curvy cowgirl! This is GREAT NEWS, but what’s even better is that the ladies of StickySeat want all of YOU, my valued EighteenHands Cowgirl Club, to be the FIRST to know about it!! Yup, we are super special VIP status!

StickySeat wants EighteenHands to have priority access to their product line with VIP pricing (yup! that means coupon codes, squeeeee!) when it is finally released.* To ensure that you are able to take advantage of this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Join the StickySeat Plus Size Product Launch mailing list online. Visit StickySeat’s contact us page and type “I am an EighteenHands fan, and I would like to be added to the Plus Size Product Launch mailing list!”.
  • Visit StickySeat at Equine Affaire MA this weekend (Booth #818, Better Living Center). Say HI to owner San Anderson and check out the StickySeat products in person, then add your information to the Plus Size Product Launch mailing list that she will have in her booth! Don’t forget to tell her I sent you!!
  • “Like” StickySeat on Facebook, tell them that I sent you, and follow their progress on the plus size line! You can also comment on their page that you would like to be added to the Plus Size Product Launch mailing list!




*Launch Date TBD

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EighteenHands goes to Equine Affaire MA- Itinerary


Thursday Nov. 7- Sunday Nov. 10 2013

Easten States Expo Fair Grounds-SpringFeild, MA


Most of you know that am attending Equine Affaire this weekend, and some of you have been awaiting my itinerary so you’ll know where I’ll be and when I’ll be there! I will be attending Equine Affaire on SATURDAY November 9, 2013. I will be there at 9:30am and will stay for the entire day. I have many scheduled stops to visit some of the plus size friendly vendors and exhibitors that will be presenting at Equine Affaire, so I encourage all of you who will be there Saturday to stop by and see me at one or more of my schedule stops!

If you can’t make it to one of my scheduled stops on Saturday, or if you aren’t going on Saturday at all but plan on attending at some point over the weekend, you can still be a part of EighteenHands EighteenHands goes to Equine Affaire! Just print out my preferred vendor list and stop by to say hi on your own! Just don’t forget to tell the vendors that EighteenHands sent you!

complete schedule for Equine Affaire MA: Equine Affaire 2013 Itinerary

preferred vendor list: equine affaire vendor list


Hope to see you there!



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I’ve always know about CANTER USA. I knew they were a non-profit rescue for off-the-track TBs, I knew they had chapters all over the country, and I knew that the organization does a lot of good for TBs in need…but I never really knew anything more about the CANTER, other than that they existed.

I was recently searching the web for adoptable horses in my area (like every other horse person does at one point or another), when I came across this ad:

As I was reading this ad, one line in particular drew my attention:

…”Given her sturdy build, she will be a nice horse for a larger rider.”

As I read this line, I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, when is the last time I saw a plus size reference in an adoption listing? Never. Out of all of the adoption listings I have ever read, I don’t think I have EVER ONCE read something in the horse description. I re-read the ad and thought to myself, YUP this is a pro-plus size organization! It turns out that Ellen O’Brien, the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the CANTER New England chapter is herself a plus size equestrian! Plus size riders in high places? I LIKE IT! And now that I know CANTER USA embraces plus size equestrians, I like the organization even more!

Here is a little but about CANTER. For more information visit their website:


“CANTER is dedicated to the welfare of the racing Thoroughbred and assisting ex-racers in making the successful transition to life after the finish line. Through direct rescue work, collaboration with other horse welfare organizations and by helping trainers and owners seeking to retire horses to connect with non-race buyers, we help to ensure that these remarkable athletes find loving homes and new careers off the track.

Ineight years of operation, the national CANTER program, which is endorsed by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association along with state breeders and various horseman’s associations, has helped literally thousands of horses transition from a life in racing to life as competitors in other sports, as pleasure mounts, or to peaceful existence as companion horses.

And everyone involved with CANTER is a volunteer–assisting these horses is a labor of love.

CANTER is unique in that it was conceived, developed and implemented by the racing industry itself! CANTER founder Jo Anne Normile and her husband had raced their two home-bred Thoroughbreds and successfully transitioned their most recently retired horse to the sport of eventing. During this period, Jo Anne served on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association (which organization represents Michigan’s 1200 Thoroughbred racing trainers and owners).

CANTER seeks to help transition horses that are not successful in their racing careers, or those which simply need to move on, by connecting buyers and sellers. By providing direct access for prospective buyers, we are able to assist a larger number of horses.”


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EighteenHands goes to Equine Affaire MA

I live in Massachussetts, as you all know, and I am very fortunate to have Equine Affaire MA only an hour away from my home. I make the trip to Equine Affaire every year to watch the demos, see the sights, and check out the vendor booths.  Every year I am satisfyed with the event overall, but slightly dissapointed at the same time that I couldn’t find more merchandise in my size <Tear>. This year I have decided that I will end my and everyone else’s dissapointment! I decided to do something about the fact that I have to strip search every single vendor booth to find 1 ugly out dated tshirt in my size! But how are you going to do this, Lizzy? FEAR NOT my fellow fluffies, for I have a plan!

For the past few weeks I have been sending email after email to vendors from all over the country who plan to be at Equine Affaire, asking them if they accomodate larger sized riders, and if they plan on selling plus sizes at Equine Affaire. I am happy to announce that I have already gotten multiple responses! This is going to be an ongoing process and the list will grow as time goes on, but here is what I have so far:

Equine Affaire MA

EighteenHands Preferred Vendor List

  • Animals To Wear Select women’s apparel up to 2X, and Unisex apparel up to XXL.
  • Australian Stock Saddle Co.– High Quality custom stock saddles up to 23″ seat size, Merino bareback pads, and more. Very plus size friendly organization. They often only carry up for 20″ in thier booth, but you have ample opportunity to see their products and place custom orders in person or online.
  • Bit of Britain– Online and catalog saddlery with a sizable plus size selection. Visit thier booth to check out thier apparel selection and pick up their catalog.
  • Black Horse Creations(Booth #1304 Mallory Building) A personal favorite of mine. Equestrian themed fashions with select styles up to 4X. Tell Kim that I sent you, but visit her booth early as she WILL sell out of larger sizes!
  • “The Bra Lady” Essential Bodywear(Booth #2711 Mallory North) Rosina Cunningham will be doing on site bra fittings in her private dressing room all weekend. Featured undergarments include: Zero bounce sports bra (32C-52dd), everyday bra (32A-44H), and cami tops (S-3X). Call Rosina at: 630-802-3216 to book a fitting, or just drop by her booth
  • CANTER USA– CANTER’s  New England Chapter will be exhibiting, presenting information about thier OTTB rescue organization.
  • Dubbary of Ireland– The very popular and boot maker now makes the Dubbary “Extra Fit” boot, accomodating larger calf widths. Find thier booth and ask to try a pair on!
  • Muddy Creek Rain Gear (Better Living Center)- Providing high quality rain gear, Muddy Creek makes beautiful riding raincoats that cover you and your saddle! Large sizes accomodate plus size and big and tall!
  • Rod’s Western– Plus size riding denim and western casual wear. Stop by their booth to pick up a catalog and shop their selections.
  • SmartPak– Plus size english riding apparel. Stop by their booth to pick up a catalog and shop thier selections.
  • Sticky Seat– Featuring innovation and patented full seat breeches and tights. Current size selection goes up to XL (16/18). Sticky Seat is currently in the process of developing a plus size product line. Stop by thier booth to sign up for their email list. EighteenHands fans will recieve first notification and coupons upon release of their plus size line!


Please check back often, as I will continue to add to this list as I hear from additional vendors!

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A Shout Out To SmartPak

I would just like to give a shout out to the amazing people at SmartPak for fully supporting the plus size equestrian!

Yes, yes there are certainly other websites and apparel brands who are deticated exclusively to the full figured rider but Smart Pak is a “regular” tack shop, and as we all know most “regular” tack shop DO NOT stock plus size apparel (I wouldn’t be here if they did, right?). SmartPak is based online with 1 home store in Natick, MA (I got my Fuller Fillies Country Boots there). They are one of the largest and most well known tack shops in the New England area, and the reason I love them so much is because they actually carry plus size apparel and footwear!!! Now, when I say they carry plus size riding apparel I don’t just mean that they have ONE ugly pair of breeches and ONE awful shirt in a plus size just to say they stock larger sizes for posterity….Oh, no not SmartPak. They have a FULLY LOADED plus size department AND they’ve recently started putting out thier own “plus” line of apparel that is actually chic and stylish! I LOVE THEM!!!

Piper Plus Knee Patch Breeches by SmartPak

piper breech

Seriously, go to the SmartPak homepage and type “plus size” into the search box, or search for apparel by your size… Et Voila! Page after page of stuff that fits! Breeches, jeans, tops, boots, chaps, gloves, accessories, and more! It’s fabulous and it makes me want to do a happy dance! SmartPak is also the largest American stockist of the beloved plus size brand, Fuller Fillies! It just makes me so happy to know that through all of the Bull#&%t that we as plus size equestrians have to deal with, that there are companies that take us seriously and take the steps to give us what we need to suceed. <enter heavenly choir music here>.

So visit the SmartPak website to oogle all of the fabulous plus size goodies they have to offer, then find them on Facebook and Twitter and give them some love (and don’t forget to tell them that Lizzy from EighteenHands sent you!) They sure deserve it!



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EighteenHands Day

Saturday February 23, 2013 from 4-6:30pm at Equine Essentials Tack Shop in Oxford, MA.

Please join me for EighteenHands’ first ever public outing!

-vendor trunk shows
-Plus Size clothing showcase
-clothing try-on opportunities
-light refreshments


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Enter For A Chance to Win

Have you checked out yet? The world’s largest online tack shop has everything and more for both horse and rider. With great prices and an amazing selection, you’re sure to find it at!


Win A FREE $25 Gift Certificate To

To enter, tell us how EighteenHands has helped you excel in equestrian sports!  ‘Like’ us on Facebook, share your story on our wall, and that’s it! Simple as that!

4 lucky participants will be chosen at random to win $5 off thier next purchase of $25 or more

1 lucky participant will be chosen at random to win a $25 gift certificate!

Winners will be announced August 1, 2012

So…How has EighteenHands helped you?





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JUST FLY Designs

When it comes to Western wear, many of you complain that plus sizes are EXTREMELY limited. Plus size Western Wear seems to be limited to drab or pastel shades with tacky designs that leave something to be desired. I’ve been searching high and low for some stylish thread for you guys and gals and I have found it!

Just Fly Designs

Just Fly Designs is a custom Western apparel company who is well know for ability to “bling-ify” AMAZING Western wear! From Rodeo to Horsemanship, Showmanship, and everything in between, These garments are sure to make you stand out i a crowd (in a good way). Just fly is currently able to produce garments in up to a 3X, and after talking with Faith, the owner and founder of Just Fly, I have been informed that they are able to go bigger, and are HAPPY to find EighteenHands girls and guys sizes we need!!! YAY!!!!!!

I STRONGLY encourage you to check out their website, and Facebook page. If you have any question about Just Fly’s products, they have great customer service and are more than happy to help you.

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What is Natural Horsemanship?

Last weekend, Lauren took her 4 year old German Warmblood, “Capone” to a local trainer who practices “Natural Horsemanship” in hopes of finding a gentle but effective way of training and backing him. Her previous trainer,while extremely knowledgeable, had a traditional “punishment and reward” approach to training and “breaking” horses and those methods seemed ineffective on Capone.

I’ve always heard of Natural Horsemanship but I never had any first hand experience with it. To me it was this horse-whispery magical and mystical sorcery that allowed those who wielded it’s power to communicate with horses as if they were a horse themsevles. I didn’t understand it, but it was a cool concept.

The definition of Natural Horsemanship is:

Colloquially known as horse whispering is a collective term for a variety of horse training techniques which have seen rapid growth in popularity since the 1980s. The techniques vary in their precise tenets but generally share principles of developing a rapport with horses, using communication techniques derived from observation of free-roaming horses and rejecting abusive training methods.

Natural horsemanship practitioners have created a exclusionary social meme marking the approach as being a radical departure from “traditional” techniques, which are often portrayed as being based in the use of unnecessary force. Users and practitioners tend to relate benefits in relation to the quasi-scientific narrative of the eitology of horse behaviour, and to the idea of anthropomorphic partnership. High profile practitioners of natural horsemanship such as Monty Roberts and Pat Parelli market their methods and equipment extensively through books, television appearances, live shows and other media. The combination of social demarcation and high-profile marketing makes the natural horsemanship movement somewhat controversial among the equestrian community, with criticism leveled at practitioners on a number of levels, notably that the techniques are not “new” and are classical concepts that are simply renamed or repackaged in order to be able to sell products and merchandise (Wikipedia)

…So in short, Natural Horsemanship utilizes a horses natural behaviors, and body language to create a strong bond between horse and owner. It takes advantage of a horses natural desire to follow and has been proved an extremely effective training method. Got it?

When Lauren told me she found a Natural Horsemanship trainer and that she had scheduled a training session for Capone I looked forward to joining her so I could see how it worked first hand. Let me tell you I was impressed! It was an extremely long session and it would take me FOREVER to review in detail. What I took home from the session was that you have to take your time and let the horse figure things out, vs the traditional method of force and domination.


Capone is extremely sensitive on the back end and his first impulse is to stomp or kick. He’s never kicked at a person, but when he is threatened by an object he is unfamiliar with (a plastic bag, a rope touching his legs, etc…) his response is to strike out on the back. So to begin the process of fixing this issue, the trainer, Pat Connors, put a loose lasso around Oni’s neck (rather than using a halter and longe line) then began longing him. Eventualy he maneuvered the rope so that it crossed between Oni’s back legs as he trotted. This caused Oni to FREAK OUT. He cantered, bucked, and kicked out in fear over and over again but all the while Pat’s body language stayed calm and steady. “If he gets tangled all I have to do is drop the rope and he will untangle himself.” Pat said to assured Lauren that her horse was perfectly safe. Oni FLEW around the round pen in fear of the “Horse eating rope” that was touching his back legs but after several mintutes he calmed down and transitioned into a trot…then eventually a walk…and eventually he stopped and looked at Pat as if to say “Okay I’m done freaking out now”.

While Oni’s issue wasn’t resolved, it was a step forward. “We just have do do excercises like this over and over again until he realizes that the objects aren’t going to hurt him.” Pat explained.

Let the horse sort it out for himself….I get it now. And I can’t wait to go back to watch the next session.



Check out the rest of the pictures on Facebook, and see video on YouTube!

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I’ve got draft horses on the brain!!

Hey Guys and Gals,

If you follow EighteenHands on Facebook, most of you probably know that I rode a full draft for the first time on Saturday. I went out to Anglia Farm for my lesson, and rather than riding my usual mount, Shine the Haflinger, I was able to ride Paddy the Shire who had been out on lease for the winter. Paddy is over 17 hands and is the largest horse I had ever ridden. I was slightly nervous as I climbed the 3 step mounting block and pulled myself onto his back. Compared to the 15 hand horses I was used to riding, I was up HIGH and it was a long way down if I fell…Up I went and Ketherine and I started business as usual.

I don’t really know what I expected, never having ridden a full draft before, but I was very impressed at how forward Paddy was. “He’s not a lazy draft!” Katherine called to me from across the ring. “No, he certainly is not!!” I called back, quite enjoying myself. Another thing I noticed right away was the obvious length of his stride compared to the smaller horses I was used to as well as the feeling of his gait. Paddy’s movements felt as big as they were. We covered a lot of ground quickly and I had to familiarize myself with his rythm.

Over the course of my hour long lesson Paddy and I got to know each other very well. He responded to my aides, moved out under me and stayed collected for me for the entire ride. It was beautiful. Paddy and I walked, trotted, cantered, and even hopped my first cross rail together and I was able to stay connect with him better than I have with any other horse I’ve ridden (which isn’t very many). I’m not sure if I had such a good ride with Paddy because 1. My riding is improving so I am able to communicate with the horse better. 2. Paddy is an extremely willing and tolerant mount who puts up with anyone 3. I had an immediate connecting with Paddy that I haven’t experienced with any of the horses I’ve ridden or 4. A combination of all of these things.

I loved everything about this horse, and I cannot wait to ride him again. Do you own or ride a draft horse? Was your first experience on a draft “love at first ride”?





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