Grabbing the pommel in a test

The only person who cares that you grabbed your strap during a lengthening is the rail bird in the stands. The judge does not care and doesn’t even notice unless you’re subsequently ejected from your saddle.

I have a longer strap on my dressage saddle that I can hook my thumbs under and still hold my reins in the right place. I’ve never gotten a single comment from anyone. I know the rules, and so do the judges. I find it amusing that the people who are against it usually don’t show and had no idea it was even legal.


Who has said they are against the grab strap?


I didn’t say I was against it. I just said I didn’t know it was legal and had never seen anyone use a grab strap schooling or showing dressage I know they are more common in jumpers and I put one on the saddle for the project horse, but honestly when things go wrong you need both hands for problem solving, I just can’t figure out how you’d hold on plus ride effectively.


This. I have one on one of my saddles, but never seem to find it in those moments when I could really use it.


Also looking for this answer :sweat_smile:

Am I against a grab strap? No
Do I use one? No
Do I compete? Yes, but not in the US so I don’t pay soo much attention to their rules.

Plus, I don’t use one so it’s not a rule I am concerned with, really. If you need to use one, then you do you.

It is The Most Fabulous tool for teaching a rider to quiet their damn hands and ride with their seat and legs. Physically not as demanding as riding without stirrups. Mentally brutal. I challenge your to opt out of No Stirrups November (which I think is a terrible idea anyway) and opt in to Holy Shit Holidays. Ride an entire training session with both hands on the holy shit strap. It can be eye-opening. And when you’re about to tell yourself and your horse in your best Linus and Lucy voice, “This is BS!” remind yourself that we longe, ground drive, and long-rein with side reins and still expect our horses to bend and steer. Hee. Have fun! :slight_smile:

That said, I’ve not ever had the presence of mind to grab mine in emergency situations. I will use it for training (of myself on the regular) and will keep one hand firmly attached on especially windy days when I’d like to follow the flight of my equine kite and not take the short trip to the dirt and also for a horse that has learned that it can pull a rider forwards out of the tack. Using it on pullers is gold - Horse, “I can just yank you forward and run around on my forehand … WTF? I guess I’m going to rebalance myself now. … What the hell am I doing putting all this effort into trotting when I could be running around on my forehand? I’ll just yank my rider forward a bit … WTF? Oh. Yeah. Maybe working a bit harder isn’t so bad after all?” LOL


That ride was way more than “a moment” but I agree it’s not cool to dredge that all up again now in an unrelated discussion.


I use it often to help me create a really steady outside rein connection or to give me leverage against a horse that roots me out of the tack. Sometimes when things aren’t going well my hands have a mind of their own. Holding the strap or loop a rein underneath it for a few minutes helps me get the right feel. I’ve never done it in the show ring though but don’t imagine the judge would even notice, unless it was right at C


I use it every first canter transition on an unknown horse or a fresh horse - makes me not has tentative about putting my leg on.

Also extremely helpful to keep the butt in the saddle when starting the flying changes that may be more flying than changing.

I never let go of the reins to grab the strap. If I need to, I’ll let a few inches of rein slip through my hand that I’m using to grab the strap.


Yes, as I said holding onto the pommel is great for seat work on the longe. I can see how a grab strap would be useful on a really bad rooter on the forehand, but I’d want to go to systematic retraining that kind of horse :). As far as bucking or spooking or bolting, I would love if it could give me security, but I find that when real trouble happens my instinct is to sit up and back and do something like a one reined stop and my hands are nowhere near the grab strap.

When I learned to ride as a kid I recall that I held the Western saddle horn for a month for balance at the very start, but after that it stopped being an automatic reaction. I was taught to grab mane in two point and over fences in adult re-rider lessons and I will sometimes grab mane in a canter transition on the trails in a jump saddle. I now think that short cut in lessons actually gets in the way of learning a following release.

I do grab mane going up steep hills, always did that in preference to grabbing saddle horn as a kid, because it took pressure off saddle sliding backwards.

Anyhow it would be nice if there was something like a grab strap that would make me really secure on a horse that bucks but I feel like if I held on in front I’d just end up going over her head.

I can see that it might be useful learning to ride a horse with big gaits that wasn’t really giving you serious behavior problems.


i’m a mane-grabber from way back too. I love my curly mare’s mane, it’s so full and so course and grabbing a handful of that you feel like you’ve got a whole horse in your hand… such a secure handhold. Worst thing about my mule is there’s no mane.
i use those little bitty D-rings on the english pommels to attach little pouches to to hold my stuff (treats/check for coach/cell phone).

You still have to sit back to ride the buck. Think of bronc riders - the handle/horn is roughly in the same spot as a grab strap but they’re still back on their pockets. You are anchoring yourself with it but that doesn’t mean letting yourself fall or pulling yourself forward.

I use a grab strap (and have for years) for both those WOOOHOO moments and to occasionally steady a hand that doesn’t want to behave for whatever reason. Like anything, if you want to be able to use it in an emergency, you have to have the muscle memory to grab for it without having to think about it. And that means practicing, not just putting it on there & hoping you find it in an emergency.


Just FYI if you ever do need a grab strap or breastplate or whatever, it’s better not to attach those to the little bitty D-rings because they will pull out with enough pressure and then your saddle needs repairs. They shouldn’t be under that much pressure in everyday riding but weird things do happen, and the last thing you want is your grab strap tearing loose when you actually need it! They sell D-ring savers that you can hook onto the stirrup bar instead. Like this:


yeah, they’re barely functional. Whenever i ride out i have a breast collar on. True that there is (usually) a short strap on each side to fix the breast collar in place to the little D rings, BUT, the wither strap is pretty substantial and is the best panic strap, (IF you have the time and balance to reach down)

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Right, because grabbing mane is far, far worse a thing for rider development than being bashed in the mouth by the untrained hands.

I said nothing about grabbing the pommel or about longe work. Not sure what the “yes” is in response to? Certainly nothing from my reply.

Because, clearly no-one taught you that a holy shit strap is nothing like grabbing mane. It’s not about balancing your upper body, it’s about 2 things - pulling yourself down into the saddle or steadying your hands to give the horse a more fair ride (which is what systematic training is all about)


I might not have been really responding to you, rather more a general statement. The old quote function made it easier to show when it was a true reply.

Yes I know one grabs mane to save the horses mouth over fences. I was trying to make the point that it can lock you into jumping ahead of the horse in a crest release and make it hard to learn following release.

When I’ve had seat lessons I have pulled myself into the saddle and sat up by holding onto the pommel. I’ve just never used a grab strap or neck strap. Neither my jump coach or my dressage coaches put them on. I went to an orientation to hunting clinic last year and turned up as requested with a stirrup leather around maresey’s neck but I suspect I wouldn’t end up using it third flight/hill topping :).

I think the posters are correct who say you’d need to integrate it more into your riding to have it be the thing you reach for. My reaction on humpiness or taking off is more an opening rein one rein stop, or getting the head up, or a small circle. My hands tend to be higher or wider than a grab strap would allow.


I’ve done the grab before canter requests thing, but I also have never had a hold when I REALLY needed it. Since I needed to get my mother bucker’s head up to get him to stop (yay for a distance horse bucker…endurance!), so at that point it wouldn’t have helped me.

Also, I wish I had video of some of the really raunchy stuff he did to me. Everyone told me how impressive it was to watch me ride it out. Except my neck. Whiplash from The Handstand was never fun.

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I don’t recommend attaching your (general you) cell phone to the saddle, if you’re riding alone you need it where you can get to it if you either fall and are injured to the point where you can’t stand, or if you fall on a trail ride and the horse decides to high tail it back to the barn.
I use a fanny pack if I don’t have a convenient pocket.

Yes and no, I’ve used the little fingers under the strap method to learn to quiet my hands but because the strap has been across the D rings it also brought my hands too far back, so if you (general you) are using it for quiet hands I think for this it would be better to use either a neck strap or a breast plate type of attachment.


All depends on how you hold the Holy shit strap. If you are pulling back and angling down - sure, if you are keeping your hands in the proper position and using it as a bridge in front of the saddle, it should be just about perfect.


When scribing, I had a judge tell me about spotting a BN rider discretely grabbing the pommel on a trot extension diagonal.

I figure that while schooling if holding the grab strap can keep me relaxed ( I use the extra long one that allows me to keep my hands in their normal position), it’s well worth it in preventing tension caused blowups. Also, I find it great for a greenie that is flinging their head around. I can keep my hands soft and rewarding for when they finally find the right spot / settle down.