Over this past year, I have learned to love my neck strap. I had never ridden with a neck strap and then in a lesson we were working on some jumping and my trainer had me put one on to help me keep my hands up in front of me. I realized how much better the neckstrap placement was then a breastplate.
I bought four neck straps at Bartville tack they are $9 and perfect width for me to hold in my hands. I keep two in the barn and two in the trailer for everyone to sue. I put them on every single ride and find that I have taught myself to use my neck strap instead of using my reins which is of course the goal but it is also the OH SHIT handle. I still love the breastplate for drop jumps because it is further back but in most cases the neck strap is better because it’s further forward.
You can see in the pictures of Mort cantering that I am holding the neck strap. Whenever I canter the greenies I like to put the neck strap in one hand as an anchor that way if they get silly I am locked in and I won’t use the mouth if they act up. You want them to go forward not punish them for going forward.
Kurt and I went to a super fun jumping clinic yesterday taught by Cindy Woods who is one of the MFH for Wicomico hunt and a good event rider. The clinic was basically the Lucinda Green clinic taught by Cindy. Lots of skinny fences, unrelated distances, arrow heads and more. It was all about using your legs and body to get it done and not relying on your hands. I was riding Gracie who had never seen anything like this before but was super good.
I can tell you that for the first 15 min my hand never left my neck strap. She is a baby so has baby moments and I want her to know that forward is the answer all the time and that no matter what she does I am going to stick right on and ride forward. The neck strap helps you to really lock into the saddle. She was spooking and going sideways but at times I would just hold the strap and sit down into a little sit trot and channel her forward.
I keep my hand in the strap going to the jumps which makes you use your legs to steer because your one hand is not steering. I have started her basically from scratch so she steers nicely with the leg and it helped me give her a good ride while she figured out the exercises. It was fun to see her figure out and by the end she was clocking right along jumping everything out of stride and even cantering the lines.
Now that I have gotten good at wearing my neckstrap perhaps I can channel my focus on wearing my safety vest on a regular basis.