Today was my first time using a jump strap - big warmblood mare, green but willing.
WOW! I loved it! Really made me reach up and made the awkward jumps much smoother to ride. Even though I only actually grabbed it a couple of times, just the mental picture of reaching for it really made a big difference!
I had one made that attaches to my breast plate. I LOVE it. I know it's not going anywhere. It doesn't get a ton of use but I feel much more confident just knowing that it's there. We joke that it's like Dumbo's "magic" feather to me.
I just used a neck strap for the first time taking my young mare out schooling for her first time the other week. She is very green over fences and VERY athletic, and tends to jump me out of the tack when she is impressed! It was great. I always use a breastplate when jumping greenies so if we have an "oh s***" moment I don't punish their mouths by accident, but the neck strap was great for her so I could keep my hands in a good spot and just let her figure it out when she wanted to jump like a loony. I just used an old stirrup leather and a little duct tape on the end. I will say it wasn't very natural to be grabbing for the strap, but overall it made those green baby jumps a lot easier to ride and I'll definitely be using it on her until she gets the hang of things!
I started using one riding with Hilda Donahue, who encourages it for all of her riders. I really like it. I'm using this one (which I lilke better than my prior stirrup leather as I have small hands and it is nice and thin). http://www.bitofbritain.com/Nunn_Fin...rap_p/3612.htm
First time my trainer made me use a neck strap I wanted to scream. I hated it!! Sure it put me in the right position, sure it was added security, sure it kept me from banging into my sweet Mercedes' mouth, but it took me away from my comfort zone position (which was horrible). Now I am so glad she required it for many lessons, because today I LOVE the strap.
This last weekend I had it when I road BN (for the first time) and I so helped me stay centered with Sterling. Instead of whoa, we got GO. It also helped that I saw Sinead and WFP ride with one ;-)