SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

February 21, 2011

Butt Velcro

First off, happy 15th birthday, Mr. Shiny McJumpy Pants!

Rehab is boring.  But the slowness of it forces you to work on things you might otherwise pass over.  Since Solo has the energy level of a dead sloth right now (low red blood cell levels, etc.), I can't exactly practice much high energy stuff.  I decided, why not hop on bareback and practice walking on the bit at a speed somewhat faster than a death march (always a weak spot).

We wove in alternating curves around our dressage arena cones; left bend, right bend, left shoulder popping, now!....right bend, left bend....stay on that outside rein!...right bend.  We marched straight  approximately down centerline and bent around a 20 meter circle, all at a walk I tried to maintain without nagging, focusing on a steady, supple contact.  If Solo started to lock that left side of his jaw, I just massaged it with the bit on that side until he let go again.

Stretch break!

Then I couldn't resist a single lap of canter on each lead. The arena is not huge and I wasn't going to make him be round, just to stay balanced and rhythmic. Having just gone to Mr. Physical Therapist today too, I wanted to experiment a little with my seat; my constant problem is that I am unable to unlock my lower back and hips. They are generally tight and sore, so I cannot simply "relax and swing" with the horse as one is directed to do. But things have been improving, so I gave it a go.

Once we picked up the canter, I imagined that there was velcro between my butt and the saddle: the hooky side was on my butt and the soft side (you know what I mean) was on the saddle. My goal was to keep them stuck together without rubbing or moving, they just had to stay stuck. Above all, I didn't want to mentally "hear" that scritching sound you get when you rub velcro sides together. I imagined PLANTING my half of the velcro onto the saddle's half and smooshing it there.

Crazy? Possibly.

Successful? Yes! It did help a lot. I suddenly could feel and realize how much motion there must be in the lower back and pelvis to swing with the canter. And it's a LOT of motion! But my velcro did not scritch and slide all over the place very much, although I didn't have eyes on the ground to confirm this. 

I have obviously invented some priceless horsemanship secret and will now become a millionaire! HA! But it may be worth giving a try, it just seemed to help my body make sense of what I was asking it better than me screaming at my ass, "Stay put, you sorry bastard!" Does it help you? Do you have another image that works for you? Do share!


  1. Lol, there was a girl at one of my old barns named Valerie, and I called her Valcro because that girl had some seriously good butt velcro! Sounds like yours is developing nicely as well.

    The worst (for me, at least) is the downward transition from canter to trot/walk when you're bareback. Those few steps of quick trot just KILL me!

    Oh well, I won't be riding Certs bareback any time soon, as that horse's trot is so jarring that my molars rattle around when I'm sitting his trot (or attempting to). Even with a saddle, the next day my inner thighs are screaming for mercy.

  2. I hear you on the downward transition. I lean wayyyyyyy back and sit down as hard as I can and Solo usually drops to walk pretty quickly. But dang, there's always one bounce that gets you.

  3. lmbo at Mr. Shiney McJumpy pants! Happy Birthday Solo!

  4. That's a really good image! Thanks. I have trouble keeping my butt in the right place - I have a long, weak torso and tend to lean far forward onto my arms instead of relying on my seat ... I'm so trying this tomorrow.

  5. Happy Birthday Solo!!

    I tell my students to think that they are sitting on super glue or other sticky things. This results in me jumping around the arena yelling "think sticky thoughts!!!!"..... maybe there is a reason all the kids think I'm strange.

  6. Great riding image! This is my first time reading your blog, but I have always noticed and liked your bird icon.

    If you really feel that you just cannot release your lower back or hips, then your pelvis is not in neutral. At a walk, try resting your thighs up on the saddle flaps and gently draw your belly button in towards your spine. You should be able to feel with a free hand that your lower back is flatter and softer. And your pelvis should be very close to neutral!

    Now the trick is to try and keep that softness as you lower your legs back to the stirrups. This is arguably more difficult in a jumping saddle than bareback, since the cut of the saddle naturally inclines your pelvis forward for jumping. Have fun!

    ("Valcro"...I like it!)

  7. Amy -- thanks!

    mhl, let me know how it goes!

    molly, that mental image is priceless.

    Thanks, Val! I wish my muscle tension would allow me to do that.

  8. Here I was thinking you just adhesived (is that a word?) velcro to your butt and his back...

    Oh well. I'll try your way this afternoon.

  9. SB, if the back gives out, that's the next step.

  10. Great visual aid! Totally helps doesn't it? Where did u get that cute horse bday image..I luv it!

  11. Kristin, I don't know the source of the picture, it came up in Google and I liked the artwork!

  12. Ahhh - the artificial/visual aid of velcro it!!