The humble neck strap is an often under-appreciated piece of tack, yet can be extremely useful for every rider. William Fox-Pitt once said he would never ride a horse without one — and he’s one of the best event riders of all time! So whether you ride for pleasure, to compete or a mix of both, a neck strap is a useful piece of kit. One trainer we asked described a horse neck strap as being “like a seatbelt” — just one reason to always use one when you’re riding — and we’ve shared other good reasons to use a neck strap further down the page.

First though, making sure the neck strap fits both horse and rider is important, and much of this is down to personal preference and the build of your horse’s shoulders, neck and wither. “Make sure the strap isn’t so tight that it’s too far up the neck to reach, but also not so loose that it’s too far back. It needs to be in a good position for the rider to put a finger through without needing to move their hands,” says Charlotte Fountain, a Society of Master Saddlers qualified saddler and Master Saddle Fitter for Colne Saddlery in Gloucestershire.

Charlotte adds that while some riders make do with an old stirrup leather as a neck strap, racing yards she visits would never use one as they are too bulky. “Work riders at racing yards always ride with a finger in the strap and they use thinner ones — usually around half an inch wide, whereas a stirrup leather is usually one inch. We make lots of custom straps, especially for younger riders on ponies where a thinner strap is easier for them to use,” she says. “Some people use their martingale strap instead of a neck strap. These can work well, although something like a three- or five-point breastplate doesn’t work, as it sits too near the saddle.”

Shop for neck straps

Bespoke SXC Neck Straps Bespoke SXC Neck Straps

RRP from £19.99

Colours: Black, brown, burgundy/ maroon, cerise, flo lime, flo orange, flo pink, flo yellow, gold, grey, light blue, navy, orange, purple, red, sky blue, teal, white, yellow

Sizes: Pony, cob/ full

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This equine safety neck strap is made from BioThane, which looks and feels like leather and is durable, easy to clean and waterproof.

These straps come in a huge range of colours and can be customised with your name, your horse’s name, business name, team name or logo. You can choose from a range of fasteners and buckles too.

Salute Equestrian Click & Connect Championship RangeSalute Equestrian Click & Connect Championship Range

RRP from £170

Colours: Black, brown

Sizes: Small, medium, large

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Suitable for all riders, the Click & Connect Neck Strap has been designed by a British international event rider and British Horse Society accredited coach, developed from working with riders and horses of all levels from novice to international competitor.

Permitted for FEI, British Dressage, British Show Jumping, British Eventing and The Pony Club, the Click & Connect Neck Strap is specifically designed to meet the 2019 FEI Ruling.

There are nine different ways this leather neck strap can be fitted and it can be worn on its own or attached to your saddle, martingale or breastplate. There’s even an option for personalisation too.

Velociti GARA Leather Neck StrapVelociti GARA Leather Neck Strap

RRP £12.50

Colours: Havana

Sizes: 3/4 /60″, 3/4″ /40″, 3/4 X 50, 7/8″ /40″, 7/8 X 50

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A quality leather neck strap which acts as a useful aid for extra grip and safety. This neck strap is available in three sizes to cater for different horses and hands.

Cathedral Equine Neck StrapCathedral Equine Neck Strap

RRP £29.99

Colours: Black, brown

Sizes: Pony, cob, full, extra full

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A black rolled leather neck strap with buckle adjustment that fits flat over your horse’s wither. Available in four different sizes.

Kate Negus Saddlery Neck Strap

Kate Negus Saddlery Neck StrapRRP £45

Colours: Black, chestnut

Sizes: One size

Purchase here

This English leather neck strap has two keepers to keep any excess leather neat and tidy. There’s plenty of adjustment for a good fit, and a brass buckle. Ideal whether you’re competing, riding a youngster horse or appreciate an extra place to grab.

8 reasons to always ride with a neck strap

1 For confidence

Coach and rider Stella Bunn describes a neck strap as being “like a seat belt”.

“I use a neck strap on all of my horses when jumping or hacking. No horse is 100% bomb proof so I have a habit of putting one on anyway,” she says. “I can ride an entire dressage test holding on to a neck strap, though you do lose a bit of steering. I have an advanced medium dressage horse who can spin 180° in the blink of an eye, so the strap is there just in case he follows the spin through with something else.”

2 It gives a sense of security

A neck strap is particularly valuable for novice and young riders alike. Steph Lynn is a freelance instructor and likes a neck strap to be part of her own kit, and that of those she teaches.

“I always used a neck strap as a child and you never know when you might need it,” she says. “It helps to keep hands in the right place, provides something to hold onto to help with a light seat and jumping position. A neck strap also gives a sense of security that there is something to grab hold of if you feel off balance. I find that a neck strap makes you use more important aids than your hands, too.”

3 Provides extra balance

Hannah Jones, a vet who events up to CIC3* level and competes in advanced medium dressage, finds a neck strap particularly useful on 2 Unlimited (‘Leo’).

“When I was breaking him in he was very jumpy. Every time I asked for trot and he felt me move, he either stopped or shot off. I looped my fingers through the neck strap for extra balance and stability. That meant I could be really subtle and careful with starting to rise to the trot,” explains Hannah.

4 Support when riding a young, fresh or sharp horse

“I have a lot of horses who are just backed or fresh. I always use a neck strap on an unknown horse for extra security,” says Mitty Hardy, who events up to two-star level. “A neck strap means we can leave the horse’s mouth alone, which is so important.”

5 Sitting a big jump

“When horses throw in a big jump or chip in a stride, using a neck strap means you don’t catch them in the mouth and can stay soft in your hand,” adds Mitty. “Having a neck strap on does become a habit and you almost feel bare without it.”

6 Confidence on unknown horses

Whether you’re the one getting on a horse you don’t know, or someone new is coming to ride your horse for the first time, a neck strap is a useful security rein.

7 Keeping hands forward

“It’s a great tool if you become unbalanced or if your horse throws an awkward jump as you won’t pull them in the mouth,” says Hannah Jones. “I will also sometimes put a finger through the strap if I’m expecting a big jump, like off a step for the first time. Neck straps are also useful for using as a marker to keep your hands pushed forward and in the correct place for flatwork and jumping.”

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