New Equipment: Yoke

Big Dee's Leather Racing Yoke

Big Dee’s Leather Racing Yoke

Previously seen as a sign of weakness, the neck strap is the latest hot new thing in eventing. Big Name Rider William Fox-Pitt wears one. Now everybody must. The goal is to have a piece of leather around the horse’s neck to grab when plans go astray.

Back in the dim, dark past, I fashioned one out of a stirrup leather for my first Training Level stadium jumping course. My horse was braided. The rest of the time, I am all about grabbing mane. It’s right there. My horses have never objected. No extra equipment required. When I had to roach Mathilda’s mane one summer due to sweet itch, I left a soul patch right where I might need a handhold.

At the risk of the Internet falling down on my head, I must confess that I don’t like neckstraps. They seem unsafe to me. If the horse has a simple strap around the neck on a regular basis, what is to keep said strap from sliding down the neck when the horse lowers her head during, say, a stretchy circle? A moment of inattention from horse or rider and the front foot is caught. What if the horse reaches down to itch a leg? Takes a bite of grass during a hack? Seems to me that remembering to grab onto a strap to keep it from sliding is just one more thing to go wrong.

While we are on the subject, I also do not understand western tie-downs that go from girth to nose without benefit of breastplate. This is a foot-tangler waiting to happen. OTOH, I don’t know much about Western tack. Anyone care to enlighten me on this one?

Yet, I am not one to sneer at safe concerns. So I bought a yoke. It has a piece that goes through the legs to the girth to keep the neck section in place. Yokes are used at racetracks to attach martingales and as general panic straps. I figure if they can work with hysterical two-year olds, I should be covered. Most of the time. No, it would not have helped me on Milton. There was no time to grab anything.

There have been a lot of purchases lately. Husband says he starts to worry about me when I stop buying tack.

Post update: Breastplate – I could spin a theory but most I forgot about them. Big in Eventing but not as big in Jumpers, so they fell off my radar. I suspect the whole exercise is moot. Come the heat of the moment, I’m gonna grab mane the way I always have.

Fire ants – Burn on contact. Bites take forever to heal. They are the work of the devil.
~~~
Horse Update

IMG_20141003_171136176

Poor Milton learned about fire ants the hard way. His whole back is covered with devastingly itchy bumps. I suspect he lay down on an anthill. Not a mistake one makes a second time.

IMG_20141003_171146719

Blurry, but shows how much he cranks his head around when I scratch him.

Categories: Horses

5 replies »

  1. Poor dude! Was Rodney hiding behind a tree snickering instead of warning him? Also, totally get a neck strap, but why a yoke and not a breastcollar? like a 5 point that’s attached to the saddle too?

  2. The neck straps I see are pretty tight–I can’t really imagine a foot going through them. They set up shop about halfway down the horse’s neck (but then you have to reach forward to grab them, which could set one off-balance) … so I just use mane and/or the 5-point or hunting breastplate strap that goes over the withers.

  3. Poor lad. Hazards up this way tend more towards porcupines and … well, actually, I can’t think of anything else. Ice, I guess. The occasional wasp.

%d bloggers like this: