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We Are Flying Solo

November 19, 2009

Hairy Adventures

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm ALL about low-maintenance.  I don't want to have to get up three hours early before a show to spend bleary-eyed time detangling hair or somesuch nonsense.  I want to take the horse off the trailer, slap my tack on & be ready to go.

I am also not one of the Hair Nazis.   You know, the ones who swoon every time you bang a tail or, horrors, brush it out.  Yeah, I know you can hear me, Hunter Princesses.  ;P 

I have startling news for you, Hair Nazis, you may want to sit down for the revelation -- IT'S HAIR. IT GROWS BACK.  In fact, if your horse is on a good hoof supplement, it grows back rather quickly.

So.  I will colour you not surprised when I tell you that I decided to try giving Solo a true eventer tail.

I've always liked the look -- a clean line down the tail bone, defining the hindquarters and giving a neat, braided look without actually braiding (which I recently learned from a dressage judge was a no-no in eventing; a tail braid makes your horse's back look stiff & can cost you points both in the dressage ring & in stadium, where stiffly braided tails have been observed to cost rails pulled by trailing back feet). I recruited our lovely BO as I saw that her TB had a grown out version.

Before (the ends just touch the ground, but the top is always shaggy with 500 different lengths due to Mr. I Love To Scratch My Butt):

And after, BO's handiwork (you have to take off a LOT of hair):

So far, I rather like it.   Standing right next to it looks a bit weird as I am not used to it.  But when I take three steps back, it looks really nice & provides instant finesse back there.  If Solo hadn't decided to be a bum & cock his hip, you could see the nice banged end just above the fetlock.

I should get video of our dressage test on Sunday, so I am excited to see how it looks under saddle!

In riding news, we've not been able to do much the past fews days due to my busy schedule.  We did get some nice jump work in on Sunday -- I finally successfully built a gymnastic line & we worked through that, then did a few of the regular jumps.

I tried out the great tip P gave us in our lesson on Sat: being taught to jump from a two-point position makes one prone to jumping up the neck.  I think all of us who have ridden in the hunters can attest to this fact!  It's something I've really been struggling with a lot lately too, grrr. 

When approaching the jump, just before take off, just think of shoving your butt towards the cantle & feet out in front of you like landing gear.

I gave it a whirl.  On each approach, my thoughts went, Lift the poll, wrap your legs, shoulders back, soften, LANDING GEAR DOWN, as we counted down the strides.   It totally freaking worked!!  I stayed back in the air, my legs stayed underneath & on my horse & I landed with my foot beneath me. Yahoo!!!


  1. Solo's tail looks very nice. I'm very low maintenance too. And since I'm not showing, I let the kids be as natural as possible, hairy ears and all (except for bridle paths and I keep Marley in the traditional Fjord do, but usually roach his mane once a year to start over on it).

    Good luck with your dressage test.

  2. Thanks! The top part ended up a bit shorter than I wanted it, I already have ideas of how I want to change it during grow out, but at least now I have a template to start with. I don't do a WHOLE lot of shaving, I leave ears pretty much alone and just do shaggy bits on the jawline and fetlocks and bridle path.

  3. Lol, before we know it, Solo is going to be hairless. :-P I've never seen a tail like that, so, yes, it will take some getting used to!
    My old instructor used to yell, "Push your butt back!" before a fence. He told me to think about closing my hip angle and really pushing back towards the horse's tail. It works! Now, if I actually had to do it right now...I'm not exactly sure how I would do.
    Good luck on your upcoming HT!

  4. I know, it's weird looking, eh? Maybe if I just cut ALL his hair off, I won't even have to brush him before show and he will never get muddy!

  5. Hmmmmmmmm..... I wonder if I did that to Jackson's tail, if his canter would get better. A mowhawk did improve things, but maybe the tail needs to be done too. I'm sure that all our problems lay in the fact that we just don't have our fashion quite right!!

  6. AHAHHAHAH, there you go Molly! If you do, I suggest leaving the center hair longer and just clipping the sides, that's my plan for next time. We started out with it longer but then it looked all bushy and goofy, so we need to find that balance.

  7. I have to say that is a tad extreme. I admired the "eventer tail" last time I was at one of your competitions but I believe there was a little more length to the top. More of a pulled effect, maybe? Could be this is a growing out project to reach a happy middle ground.

    Take this with a grain of salt from someone who snips the end of her horses's tail so this it is 1/4 inch off the ground.

  8. That looks great!!! I'm pretty sure if I attempted to do that, I would keep trimming here & there to even things up and end up with no tail. Which wouldn't be a big change, since I own another Must Scratch Butt horse who has also TWICE in the last year and a half managed to rip out half his tail in freak type accidents. And he has a naturally thin tail to begin with. Sigh. Good thing I'm not a Hair Girl either!

  9. Oh, and I know this is the weirdest thing ever, but animal butts just totally crack me up. So the pics of Solo with his leg cocked & crooked butt gave me a chuckle. I tease my TB about his attempt at a Paint booty (he's jealous of our Paint's naturally bodacious booty). I also like to laugh at my cats' skinny butts. And my Golden Retriever's bloomer butt. Yup. You'll never read my comments the same again, will ya.

  10. ROFL @ Jen.

    I tend to agree with you, LH, it will be a project, but this gave me a nice even template and I can play with it over the winter. You can pull them as well, but you know how I hate ripping out hair...

  11. Riz's tail looks like your "before" pics. I've been meaning to get my new trainer to show me how to shave the sides, but I haven't had the chance and I'm too nervous to go at her tail with the clippers myself. LOL. Maybe I'll give it a try this weekend... Riz also gets irritated with pulling, so I will use scissors on her mane (I think I heard a hunter somewhere scream in the distance just now).

    The butt trick works wonders for me when I'm jumping! It helps me to get my lower leg forward and not grip with my knees. Good job!

  12. Give it a shot, l.e.! Solo's is actually not as short as it looks in the pics, the flash on the camera made it look all weird. He actually has a nice layer of hair on the tailbone and it's all nice and brown.

  13. Ugh so that is where that problem comes from? It feels a little better knowing that it did stem from somewhere and that I am not just a jumping reject. I rode hunter/jumper for 8 years and thought jumping would just come back naturally. What I have found is that it has come back all right but it is not pretty. I am about to post pictures of our eventing derby from last week and though I am so excited to have pictures of me jumping my lover boy it is embarassing for anyone to see that knows what they are doing. So I need to think stick out my butt put out the landing gear. I am gonna try it.

  14. Go for it, Amy! I am happy to report that the landing gear is still effective a year later (OMG, has it really been a year!?) although I still forget to do it a lot. But it's slowly getting better...