yI had never thought to add one when I go out on cross country, but you know what why not?! I know how many times I have wished I had had a chunk of main I could grab in sticky situations-but unfortunately for safety reasons, I always braid our horse's manes because there is such an abundance of it. I have always gone by the beat of my own drum, so my fear of judgement from others has never been an issue. I literally had never realised that it was an option AND it was that common to have one! so why not?!
What am I talking about is a neck strap. I am now rethinking that one, and will be adding a "oh sh*t" strap to my cross country gear.
As I did research for this post, I realised there are so many riders that ride with them from William Fox-Pitt all the way to lower beginner levels of eventing. Don't get me wrong, most of the eventers out there are not jumping at his level, but nonetheless I have no doubt that all involved were sure glad they had one.
Neck straps have long been associated with beginner riders and that was how a lot of riders get started I think. As you learn to ride the different types of obstacles, you really start to appreciate that a neck strap was a really useful piece of equipment in so many situations. Whether you be off balance, or you need to quiet down your hand for a very difficult situation, you always the option of that strap. Our horses do a lot of natural horsemanship as well, so they have learned to slow down and stop with that strap so another useful tool.
I feel like it's either always been there and I have never noticed them, or they are just starting to make a come back. Some people just use the martingale strap and although I have done that on occasion it’s not quite the same because it doesn’t sit in quite the right place and a breastplate is no good because it sits too close to the saddle. I just wouldn't want the strap to go off and up their neck. How do riders solve that issue? is it even an issue?
If you are going to give a neck strap a go you are better to get your saddler and ask him to make one for you out of the leather from a piece of leather. It just needs a buckle and keepers so you can adjust it for different horses and you will be set. Another creative option is DIY'ing your own strap to the custom measurements your horse fits.