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MollyK 04-21-2009 03:10 PM

grab strap
OK. Gulp. My new-ish trainer -- in addition to having me get new reins with spaced rein stops -- has asked me to get a grab strap. Which I have always called a cheater strap. She says I should use this to establish a "side-rein connection" with my horse, to "help" him establish a better head set.

Now, my OTTB is a bit of a handful, and I swear he always gets a little EXTRA energetic when he senses that it's Kentucky Derby time, but I'm starting to feel like I'm back to training wheels.

This trainer is older and definitely old school. I like her a lot and am learning a lot. But ... does anyone else use a cheater strap? What for?


Whipple 04-21-2009 03:33 PM

Um, Im not sure how it would help the horse, unless you're pulling at his mouth. I suppose it couldn't hurt.

MollyK 04-21-2009 03:41 PM

The trainer thinks I'm not heavy ENOUGH on the horse, so she wants me to set my hands using the grab strap so that I keep a constant pressure on the horse. Sort of similar to what the side reins do when longing.

My TB is a bit of a head tosser if he feels like he can't have a bit of loose rein, so with my hands "set" in the grab strap, his head tossing doesn't get him anywhere. At least that's the premise.

Whipple 04-21-2009 03:45 PM

Hmm, but if your hands are holding the strap, that doesnt keep them in the proper position. But I don't ride, this is just what I get from watching others.
Can't you work on keep your hands where they should be? Or work with his head tossing in another way. He will learn eventually that he is stronger and can pull the reins right out of your hand.
I hope someone can help, I doubt I'm helping since I know very little.

Spastic_Dove 04-21-2009 03:54 PM

I guess I am not familiar with what we are talking about...picture?

Whipple 04-21-2009 03:57 PM

I'm assuming this is what is meant. It is what I am talking about.

Spastic_Dove 04-21-2009 04:10 PM

Oh. Alright, thats what I was thinking of...I didnt really understand how it would give you contact with his mouth

I dont know how long your TB has been back in work..but I wouldnt be too concerned about his headset if he is just getting into training. He should give to pressure, but as far as trying to put him into frame or keep his head in the same place, I would rather be working on getting him using his hind end and balancing

MIEventer 04-21-2009 04:21 PM

I use the grab strap on my saddle - being an Eventer, it is great to have one when you are going down drops or if at times, you feel insecure. I usually grab onto my strap with one hand, while the reins are in another - but I have NEVER used the strap to achieve some sort of head set with my horse.

I am going to highly question your coach, if they are making you use this to get some head set. A coach who teaches you to ride from the front to back, is incorrect. A good coach, teaches you to ride back to front - seat into legs into hands. Headset always comes last, never first.

I use my strap, only for my security in the saddle. Nothing more, nothing less.

I need more information.

MollyK 04-21-2009 04:33 PM

Yes, that picture is exactly what I'm talking about.

I've owned this guy for 8 years, and he had gotten quite a bit of dressage training under his belt before I got him. If I understand the trainer correctly, I take hold of the reins as usual, then loop my little and/or ring finger through the grab strap to get a consistent pull on the reins. Then I give and take using the rest of my hands and first fingers as needed.

I tried it in my lesson, and I did understand the side rein comparison 'cause my hands were set more firmly. It think it would take some practice to be able to give/take using the strap, but -- on the other hand -- she thinks I give in to him too much and need to take a firmer hand when we're working. As long as he's going well, the periodic head tossing doesn't bother me and he usually CAN'T get the reins away from me when he tries.

MollyK 04-21-2009 04:41 PM

OK, a bit more info: this trainer normally trains very high level riders. And then me. Hah.

She's all about centered riding, and is very clear that moving his hind quarters is the name of the game. We had an entire lesson about riding INTO the halt by getting him to move up into my hands from back to front. I'm telling you ... this is like zen riding. Slow but hard. My brain sweats during these lessons! -g-

But I don't know about the grab strap. My hands are sort of close (like kind of near! -g-) to where I would normally ride anyway, but she does get on me about opening my outside rein when I bend him around corners his harder way. Maybe the point of the grab strap is to keep my hands from drifting out? I guess I can ask her more about why ... but I thought someone here might have tried this method.

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