Monday, February 23, 2009
While browsing in a tack shop the other day, I ran across a product called the "Sure Grip Seat Cover". This contraption straps onto a western saddle over the seat. It is basically the fuzzy part of the velcro and it has straps that go around the rider's legs and velcro to the part on the saddle. It looks to me like it was developed for adults, perhaps for therapeutic riding, and has been adapted as a sort of seat belt for kids. In case of an accident, the weight of an adult should be enough to detach the velcro with no problem, but children are much lighter and the velcro may not come loose.
Folks, this is NOT a good idea. I have read peoples reactions on various forums, and a good many actually LIKE them and use them for their children. I have had horses fall with me, every time if I had been strapped to it, I wouldn't be here today. Every time, I was on a horse I trusted, and every time I was not going fast. My husband has also had similar accidents and if he hadn't been able to bail out, he would have been seriously hurt or worse.
I have seen what happens when a horse takes a fall with a small child strapped to it (without a helmet I might add), it was not pretty. It was a barrel racing competition. The horse made the first turn, slipped and fell, and slid about 10 feet. It then struggled to rise, flopping around and finally scrambled to its feet with the child dangling limply from the saddle. I thought the girl was dead. Fortunately, she was simply unconscious.
I have seen these things being used to allow children (or adults for that matter) to ride horses that are far beyond their ability to manage. If a child is not able to handle the horse they are riding, cannot keep themselves seated, and are not able to control it at a high rate of speed, then perhaps they are overmounted. The answer is not to strap them to the saddle. Try a smaller, calmer horse, and perhaps not allow them to go quite so fast. PUT A HELMET ON THEM, I don't care how "goofy" people think it looks, it can save their life. Children have many years to ride and enjoy horses, and yes, compete in speed events. Maybe it is best to let them get a bit bigger and to become better riders before allowing them to move to a bigger, faster mount. There is plenty of time for winning trophies when they are older.