Saddle Seatbelts

Known facts:

Seatbelts in cars save lives.
Riding horses carries inherent risk.
People fall off horses all the time and injure themselves, some fatally.

Pulliter System

Is having a seatbelt system like the one linked above a good or bad idea?

Comments are also welcome.

44 thoughts on “Saddle Seatbelts

  1. I have to admit, I can’t see this being a safety device. While seatbelts in cars are unquestionably a good thing, they are designed to hold the person steady to avoid them being thrown around the inside of the car. If you fall from a horse you should be able to throw yourself clear in most cases. Also, it’s not going to stop you from coming out of the saddle completely, as shown by the jumping pictures, so what happens if you lose your seat and the thing doesn’t disengage? Does it compress and drag you back into the saddle? It’s a good idea, but it’s no substitute for developing a strong seat and learning to fall ‘safely’.

  2. Picture this… bloated a tad more than usual, inexperienced rider steps hard on one stirrup, saddle slips under horse, instructor panics and drops handy-dandy remote control, dog steals remote control then joins in pursuit of horse and rider…through the fence, over the stump, across the stream….. Just say no.

  3. Bad idea – except for hippo therapy which is closely (physically closely) supervised. Do NOT want to be attached (hung up) on any horse. Falls are far too fast for any human response to save the day. For safety during a fall there is the instantly inflatable vest available for eventing – that seems to me a much better idea.

  4. Slight tangent re: the known facts – If anyone was wondering, there are far more US emergency room visits due to horse activities than due to playing Wii (or even Wii plus other active video game systems PLUS people tripping over keyboards/getting a mouse flung at them/etc.)

    Per NEISS (–Statistics/NEISS-Injury-Data/ ),
    Estimated 66,543 for 2012 for “1239 – Horseback Riding (Activity, Apparel Or Equipment)” (1,652 cases in the 2012 sample – meaning that showed up at the ERs that collect the data for the CPSC)

    Estimated 37,613 for “557 – Computers (Equipment And Electronic Games)” (927 cases in the 2012 sample)

    (And if anyone’s really curious, you can download the full set of cases, complete with brief narratives – I just took a quick look at the viewable online subset and indeed, and not surprisingly, plenty of falls there. In general, not quite everything that’s coded as a particular product (/activity) necessarily is, and sampling error is non-trivial, so the actual numbers can be rather different than the estimates. But there’s a lot of interesting data available, for many products and activities.)

    Looks like that 50k stat on the manufacturer’s site was cited in this study (this link from 1997. Likely that stat is mentioned in others as well; that kind of number is popular for popping into introductions.)

    Interesting thing there is that the ACTUAL study suggests something about a much less expensive, much more common bit of protective equipment. They looked at the 30 people admitted to their medical center with “equine-related neurosurgical trauma” over the span of about 3 and a half years. From the abstract: “Twenty-four patients (80%) were not wearing helmets, including all fatalities and craniotomy patients.”

  5. Don’t miss the videos on their website. I’m surprised there are so few youtube comments regarding the knocked down horse.

    • I want to see more bucking – put that thang to the test! Not one of those half-hearted little crow hops, let ’em rip!

    • Videos are confusing. How can the engineering of this thing possibly distinguish to release when the horse is going down, but not from say, hard bucking or a sudden stop? If it releases when there’s a certain amount of pressure on it, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? The rider on the grey horse in the second video with the provoked little hop/buck didn’t look like she was ever in danger of coming off regardless of the device.

  6. I’d be the laughingstock at my barn if I turned up using this device. A better investment would be plenty of lessons on a longe line.

  7. I think you’ll find I was the first person to complete the poll 😉

    And it’s been done on at least 2 forums I know you’re a member of!

    When I first saw it I thought it was some April Fool’s Joke but then I came to appreciate it’s yet another stupid dumbing down thing for suckers.

    The videos available and their promotion material seems to concentrate on “what happens if the horse falls down, am I stuck?” Possibly the reason for that is that there’s a heck of a lot of potential for that to happen when you have a rider who is unbalanced wobbling about on top of a horse. Appreciate that it doesn’t stop lateral movement and any movement really. It just holds you back in the saddle. Very easy to end up hanging round the side of the horse with the horse bucking and unable to get you off until of course you have the foresight to press a button!

    I’m of the firm view that until a rider has balance and independent seat that they shouldn’t be unsupervised and going it alone and the last place you want to be if something goes wrong is stuck on board. All riders should always also be taught how to regain balance if indeed they lose it.

    That’s where these old fashioned exercises on horseback come in and starting with the likes of round the world and scissors… all to develop confidence, core strength, suppleness and balance.

    There’s no replacement for many lessons under good supervision and moving on from lead line to lunge or long lines and developing fitness and seat and technique.

    I sincerely hope you don’t get someone here who’s tried it. I dislike whackos looking for a quick fix!

    • I sometimes see children strapped to a (charro) saddle while out trail riding, bad bad choice here. I think the crowd on this forum is aware of how horrible this thing is, even for therapy. A therapy program should have someone leading the horse, someone or 2 at the riders side, and I’m all for that.
      There is a whacky fake horse thingy that simulates walk trot and canter that riders who cannot connect their bodies with the horse can use to learn, on without having to interact with a live horse, or have any fear of falling. This makes sense, to use it to progress to the horse. This thing here is indeed a dumbing down apparatus for those who would take advantage of people who want to learn.

    • I don’t have that kind of information (who votes when or what in a poll) that I’m aware of.

      Being a member of a forum doesn’t mean a) that I’ve read all the content, or b) that I remember all the content I’ve read.

      Thanks for the rest of your comment. Could have just said that all to begin with. 🙂

  8. I meant to say if you really want to be gob smacked then take a look at their dog and groom robots…. way to go…

    You don’t need to get your fat arse out of the seat so often and you really don’t need to bother so much about going to check the animal is alive!

    Yeh ! There’s progress!

  9. I wonder if it was actually ‘engineered’, ie, designers ran models for the forces created by 150 pounds being slung around by 1100 pounds of terrified horse, would that little saddle pad attachment hold, would it snap the average girth, damage the horse’s withers, not to mention the whiplash if it actually held. The thing seems to be a nightmare much worse than coming off. Imagine a bullrider or bronc rider with his hand caught in the rope.

  10. No way!!!! All I can picture is being hung up on the side of a horse, which would in turn cause a panicked horse, saddle slippage, etc etc.

    • And in my mind the rider’s hanging upside down on a saddle that slipped and rolled right underneath… But nice and securely fastened in 😉

  11. I’ve read stories about the old western saddles with the pommels that wrap clear around and very high cantles. Sounds like they worked about like a seat belt, they told about horses going over banks, rolling on their riders and riders getting beat to pieces stuck on a hard bucking horse. Personally I have crashed into tree limbs and once even a railroad bridge and really appreciated being able to come off or they would have hurt even worse.

    • Not just the old ones – I used to ride western and bashed my sternum on the horn on more than one occasion going up steep banks. Can’t jump a log with any kind of balance either. Have also seen hang-ups on the horn. If I went back to western I’d defiantly be in the market for a polled saddle – unless you are roping cattle or dragging fire word or some such thing it seems to be just a dangerous decoration. If you need to grab something the swell or the mane is there and if that isn’t enough you’re probably not a fit rider to be out on your own.

  12. Yeah, I’m with the majority here. Seems like too much potential to get stuck in an unbalanced, half out the saddle, but unable to just fall the rest of the way, position. Most of us have probably had incidents where it would have been better to have just come clean off at the beginning of the trouble and our attempts to cling to the saddle just made things worse. Or what about when you chose to fall at a particular point (say, nice soft grass) because you can see that it’s about to get uglier real soon (horse is about to run into rocks/trees/down a bank etc). I can’t see how you could make any device that simultaneously allows sufficient range of motion (to post, 2-point, etc), but that would still keep you in the saddle, and that would automatically breakaway at times when staying on is worse than falling (which is a judgment call).

    Car seatbelts aren’t the best comparison. Even the most athletic horse’s “stop in front of the jump and send rider sailing over the head” doesn’t have the degree of force of a car hitting a tree at 80 km/h. Not to mention that a car doesn’t get upset if you are off balance and can’t get squarely back into the drivers seat.

  13. Yup to all so far. Also what happens if your horse trips over its front feet and goes down on its knees (either fast or in slow motion; I’ve had both happen, on different horses)? Or if the horse lies down with you on it? Does the seat belt register this as a fall?

    But I do want to put in a good word for automatic feeding systems (not theirs, particularly, just in general). Our self-board barn is set up so each stallholder has a loft tack & feed room upstairs above the stall, and up in the lofts, lots of us have home-made “hay drop feeders” built with electric timers. I’ve got four slots on mine, so horsey gets a late night and early a.m. feed as well as lunch and dinner. I haven’t seen our exact design being used anywhere else, but they sure make life easier in our particular facility!

    • How does the feeder system work in terms of electronics? Have there been any ‘failures’? If the power goes out?

      Just curious what sort of backup system it has just in case.

  14. No, it doesn’t work if the power is out. And depending on how well made that particular feeder is, there are various options for the timers not firing or getting unplugged. But everyone is down to see their own horse at least once a day so you just toss them an extra flake and apologize. When our power was out for a whole weekend in the summer I was down there early and late to toss her feeds at more or less the regulart time.

    • Okay, so it’s not a fool proof system and still needs to be regularly monitored. If it’s fairly dependable then I can see an advantage in areas where things like a winter storm could delay you getting to the barn, and it would be a time and back saver for larger barns.

          • So each bowl has a meter to tell you how much has been drawn? What kind of meter? Digital? How often does the meter fail? Freeze? Get broken by the horses? How are the waters cleaned? What are they made of? I’ve seen only metal ones that end up rusting, get dented etc…

          • So each bowl has a meter to tell you how much has been drawn?
            Yes. That’s what I said. I’m on a private water supply and I need to know generally how much is being used by different areas of the farm and it’s a way of me ensuring there’s no wastage or leaks anywhere.

            What kind of meter? Digital? It measures flow of water and the water moves digital counters to a read display. It’s digital display. This isn’t the actual one I have but it’s the same principle:

            How often does the meter fail? Freeze? Get broken by the horses? Never

            How are the waters cleaned? Thoroughly and often ! 😉 You stop the flow of water to it. Remove the plug at the bottom to drain what’s in and then clean it and let some water run through to flush it and then put the plug back in. And because I know you’re doing a lot of “what if”… the “plug” can’t be removed by a horse because it’s underneath and no different to a waste trap screw in bung.

            What are they made of? I’ve seen only metal ones that end up rusting, get dented etc… The meter is predominently brass as are plumbing fittings and because you don’t use things with water that rusts! I also use all plastic piping for plumbing and speedifit connections. The stable auto drinkers are purpose designed heavy duty plastic.

            I do have galvanised steel cistern filled troughs in all fields for horses, cattle and sheep. They don’t rust either.

            Because my horses are turned out in herds for a minimum of 14 hours in 24 I haven’t got a clue how much each animal is drinking then. Though I know how much water is fed to about 10 field troughs.

            My horses are brought in to their stables daily and to manage feed, grooming and exercise.

            The auto drinkers in the stables aren’t generally routinely monitored but if I’ve a horse that’s not right or being kept in for whatever reason then I can and do then check the horse is drinking sufficient.

      • Not foolproof at all, but with our 100 per cent self-board/self-care system, and no-one living on the property, no barn management, everyone doing their own horse on their own idiosyncratic schedule, with their own locked loft, it is the most reliable way to get multiple feedings a day. I’m usually down in time for at least one of the meals of the day, but never all four, and never 6 a.m.! When I got my own stall, I really wanted it set up so I wasn’t constantly texting my friends asking when they were coming down that day, if they could toss lunch or dinner, and worrying that they might forget. Based on my experience, our electric feeders are way more reliable than people day-in, day-out, though of course we pitch in to help each other when it’s necessary (like a power failure).
        I found the set times and multiple times for feeding made the horse calmer about meals, less likely to be acting starved as soon as she saw me come in, and also I think increased her condition a bit. Of course you could get all that in a well-run boarding stable that worked on a reliable schedule, but that’s not what we have.
        These feeders probably wouldn’t make sense in most situations, but they are indispensable in our facility and really help make self board feasible for a lot of busy working adults.

        • When I was working full time, had horses at home and no help, I became a fan of free feeding. Basically, whether using nets or mangers or ground feeding, you provide enough hay so that they never run out. Twice a day I would feed grain and supplements and check out water. At first they pig out but after a few days they realize they don’t have to ‘stock up in case there’s no more coming’ and none of them over eat. If they put on too much weight, the richness of the hay can be adjusted. This is easier on the caretaker and far more natural for the horses – less wood-chewing, pacing, colic etc.

  15. Yes, I agree it would be preferable to have people on site (reliable people anyhow) but this is the only stables left in our suburb, it’s run as a non-profit club, and it is affordable, so a) there’s not much choice and b) there are some big advantages, so we make it work for us.

  16. I’ve an issue with horses kept where there’s no one in attendance and all the more if the horses are reliant on a variety of d-i-y owners.

    I also think that when it is diy that they need attending at least a couple of times a day to make sure they’re upright as a minimum.

    • Against all odds, our club has a culture of very good basic care. Especially compared to what I saw in DIY or even “full service” boarding stables as a teenager. . . Also the horses in their stalls/run-out paddocks are quite visible; there are good sight-lines generally. One advantage of the DIY set-up is that people are coming in constantly from 6 am to 10 or 11 pm, and everyone keeps an eye out for anything unusual. I have to agree, though, for a long time it felt very wrong to be turning out the lights, padlocking the gates, and driving away leaving the horses all alone in the dark.

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