"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Velcro Butt

Yet another title that I'm sure will get some interesting hits... ;)

First off: I put the S-hack on Lily correctly!

*Curb chain is snug here because I was trying to see how it would fit once it molds to her face in the future. Of course it got loosened significantly before I hopped on. (I adjust mine so it dangles a bit: 2 fingers can be slid easily between her chin and the chain.)

This is a cob-sized noseband...I think she could have taken pony-sized!
Though looking at the first photo above...maybe it can come down a hole on each side? S-hack experts haalp!

While I was getting the S-hack situation sorted out, Charles went ahead and hopped on Gracie bareback. Gracie balled up when he cued her to move forward and actually did a few crow hops. I looked up when Kathy exclaimed, to see my husband riding out Gracie's bucks without a saddle and without even holding onto mane. He just sat there all chill and kept her from getting her head down. He didn't even lose his balance. Granted they were small bucks where her front feet barely left the ground; she was just being testy. But still, I know I would have gotten nervous about that episode if it had been me up there.

Where did this man come from??? How have we been together for 10 years without me knowing he could ride like that???!

Once I was able to pick my jaw up off of the floor, I instructed him to just ask her to halt and whoa off of voice commands a few times to get her "unstuck". She had one more small spazzy moment where she tried to canter off as they came around the near side of the paddock but again Charles kept his cool and simply turned her and brought her back down to a walk.

"Your new nickname is going to be Velcro Butt!" I said to him.

A calm G-mare walking around in a relaxed fashion after her "moment". 
I finally got on Lily and we decided to ride in the back field, which has some pretty level spots. The paddock was super slick and so were the more inclined sections of the back field.

All of the grass is officially dead for the winter. The ground was still saturated from the snow and rain we had earlier in the week. I love snow but I hate when it melts because it leaves everything so soggy.

Both of the mares were instantly "up" once we were in the back field. Both of them wanted to canter up the hill and kept trying to gravitate in that direction. Charles worked Gracie around the perimeter of the entire field, gaiting or trotting away from us and returning at a walk. Every time they left us Lily would get antsy and act like she wanted to follow. I kept her at the far side of the field, close to the coops, so we could work at a collected trot thanks to the footing being less muddy there. She was very fussy when I told her no, but I distracted her by asking her to work in small circles in shoulder-in or haunches-in. 

I was finally able to get some video of Charles working with Gracie but the quality was subpar thanks to an impatient fidgeting Lily. Here are some stills from the video:

Lily's fussiness over the hill slowly escalated, "I wanna canter!!" so I finally pointed her at the hill and told her, "Okay, fine. Canter up it if you want!" She thought about it, then was like, "Noooo I'll just trot up." And she did a lovely little collected trot up the hill. 

Back around the field and again the same thing, "I wanna canter!" 
Me: "Then canter!" 
Lily: "Uhhh...never mind!" *Trots*
Me: *rolls eyes*

Charles and I went up and down the hill a couple more times, riding side-by-side walking down then trotting back up. We were literally just having fun because you couldn't do much with the slickness of the footing. 

FINALLY a photo of us riding together!
Thank you Zoe!! :)

Kathy and Zoe then showed up with Queenie, who was wearing only her bridle, and Zoe held Queenie while Kathy hopped on. Charles and I stayed close by so Queenie wouldn't feel compelled to follow after our horses.

Queenie had several issues when Kathy first adopted her, including what turned out to be a uterine infection (which is why she has lived on Regumate ever since), all of which contributed to some extreme girthiness at the time. At one point Kathy had tried riding her bareback, hoping that the complete absence of a girth would allow Queenie to tolerate being ridden, but the little chestnut mare had not been too thrilled with the idea. Kathy figured out all of her medical issues and treated her, and had never ridden her bareback again...until this day. Almost 3 years later!
Kathy beaming. :) That's Zoe, Deja's owner, next to them.
It was a short ride but Kathy got her wish of riding Queenie bareback!
Charles and I resumed working afterwards. Lily was still being weird, so I asked her to stop so I could try to get another video of Charles. Have some more video stills! ;) 

Fierce mare is fierce.
And Charles is all like, "Whatevs."

By then Lily was like, "I NEED TO MOVE OUT!" and was flinging her head around in impatience. So I told Charles I was just going to ride her in the smaller paddock and he could do as he wished: either continue riding or stop if he was tired. He got on Gracie a good 20 minutes before I got on Lily, and I'd already been working with Lily for 30 minutes...so Charles was approaching an hour of riding bareback!

He insisted that he wanted to continue riding for a bit longer, so he stayed out in the back field while I rode Lily in the paddock next door.

I sent her out into a trot and let her pick the speed. As usual lately, she chose a much more forward trot than I would have expected given the footing...and proceeded to give me some of the best work she's ever given me while holding the contact herself. On her nose. I had no issues with getting her to bend, turn, or move her shoulders with the S-hack. If anything, she was better with it than she's ever been with any bit I've ever tried on her!


Charles filmed this one from Gracie's back. You can see her ears halfway through. :)

And some stills from that video, for those of you that can't/prefer not to watch video. :)

I rode with the cover off of my saddle for the first time in a year and a half, for closer leg contact.

Seeking the contact.

I love this photo.

While all of this was happening, Charles was alternately trotting, gaiting and cantering Gracie around the back field. I will tell you this:

1. The mare had no issues with the slick footing at faster speeds.
2. Charles had no issues riding Gracie without a saddle at faster speeds! 

My phone has not been cooperating at the barn: it shuts itself off at 50% charge, in part because of the cold and in part because of the poor reception we have. So I couldn't get video. :(

He finally walked Gracie out and called it a day. It was kind of funny when he dismounted...he walked in a swagger for several strides! He was the first to laugh. 

I worked Lily for about 10 more minutes, during which Charles took a few more videos with his phone. These are some stills:

Initiating a stretchy trot!

And then Lily and I called it a day too. I see a lot more dressage rides in the S-hack in our future!

I told Charles that the best part of it was discovering he has a Velcro butt! ;) He's turned into quite the rider in a very short period of time. 


  1. Yay s-hack success! I love how your tack seems to be the same 8 assorted shades of blue mine is (chestnut mare + blue = waaaaay too much spent at the tack shop on lead ropes, halters, brushes, blankets, etc)

  2. S-hacks are awesome - but Ruby hates mine because of the curb chain. Maybe one day I'll get another with a biothane curb strap. For now, she's going well in the Evolution bridle though, so no need. And yay for Velcro-butts; wish I had one of those, lol!

    1. Hahaha yes, me too! I need to step it up now with the bareback riding! :)

  3. Your husband grew up to be a cowboy. (As I write that I'm humming "Momma's don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" in my head but with the new words, "Ni-cole let her husband grow up to be a cowboy")

    Very awesome about a good first trial with the S-hack!! I'm eager to see how it'll do for you on the trails.

    1. Daniel says you're wrong - he grew up to be an Indian. Cowboys don't ride bareback. Indians do. And his seat is most excellent. D says he needs a feather and to take his shirt off. I explained it is winter. I won't share his response.

    2. I think we'll be using the kimberwick for trail work now during the winter because cold weather spazz, but I definitely want the S-hack for summer and for 2nd-3rd loop riding so she can eat on the trail better. :)

      I do prefer the idea of Charles growing up to be an Indian! :D Karen, tell Daniel that Charles said he'll be happy to take his shirt off when it's a little warmer. ;)

  4. I think the s-hack adjustment looks good. As long as the curb chain is clear of the halter chinstrap, and the noseband is sitting on bone, not cartilage, you should be good. One thing I did with that style of s-hack was swapped out the curb chain that comes with it for a flat English curb chain and hooks that would normally go on a kimberwick -- I was able to keep the chain flat against the chin, and it was faster to bridle with an easy-to-unfasten/fasten curb chain.

    Lilly looks like she really likes the s-hack is is going beautifully in it!

    1. THANK YOU Ashley!!! Note taken on the curb chain: excellent idea. I can pick up a flat English curb chain and hooks at our local tack shop.

      I'm excited by how happy she was in it! I kept thinking of Mimi with her own kimberwick + S-hack preferences! :)

  5. Yay Carlos and Gracie!!! I'm very impressed.

    And Lily looks wonderful <3

  6. yay for having a pic of you two riding together!! and that's funny about the 'velcro butt' - my trainer thinks that a man's pelvis is actually better suited toward sitting a horse (tho i honestly can't remember why... lol - maybe having to do with fewer 'points' or how wide-set it is?)

    1. Your trainer is right: men's legs attach to their hips at straighter angles so they are indeed better suited for riding. And for sports like running: less torque on their knees and hips thanks to those straighter angles. Equus and Runner's World have published some fascinating articles on male vs female anatomy over the years.

      I found the Equus article here! :) http://www.equinestudies.org/whos_built_best_2008/whos_built_best_2008_pdf1.pdf

  7. Yay, Charles! I like the nickname:) And so cool that he's good at and enjoys riding. I wonder if part of the reason he's so good at bareback riding is because he hasn't spent that much time in a saddle? And I'm so excited about Lily going so well in the hackamore. WhooHoo!

    1. I wondered the same thing! He rode in a saddle again today and was saying how EASY it is now after riding bareback the one time. Lol

      Thank you for answering my e-mail hackamore questions and for posting about your journey with Nimo and the flower hackamore. I don't know if I would have ventured to try the S-hack if it hadn't been for you! :)

  8. Charles is doing so awesome!!!! I'm glad the S-hack is working out well and that both girls are doing well. Also congrats to Kathy for riding bareback again! :D