I just looked up this rule about dressage saddlery.
e. Martingales, bit guards, any kind of gadgets (such as bearing, side, running or balancing reins, etc.), reins with any loops or hand attachments, any kind of boots or leg bandages and any form of blinkers, including earmuffs, earplugs, hoods, fly shields, nose covers and seat covers are, under penalty of elimination, strictly forbidden.
I have grap straps or bucking straps on all my saddles and asked a TD about having them on the saddle several years ago. He said it was fine because it was in effect a safety device (to me a device is different from a gadget). Anyhow I didn't differentiate my question into it being legal to have and/or also legal to use during the test. FYI, I've never been E'd for having it on my dressage saddle but I honestly don't remember if I've ever actually used it during my dressage ride. If I didn't, I probably should have!
So my question is "Is it legal to have the bucking strap on the saddle and to use it during the test?"
Deltawave, Agreed you should be able to ride without bucking but sometimes these wild ponies with "ponytude" love to buck when asked to canter. At least that's been my experience. I certainly don't plan to ride my test holding onto the strap but it's nice to know it's there is I need it. I consider it a safety device sort of like using a frangible pin to keep the horse from getting hurt...this is to keep the rider from falling off. Tongue in cheek of course.
Attaches simply to the saddle; the rider holds the end-piece comfortably – rein contact unaffected
Allows the rider can carry their hands as normal when schooling
Assures no ‘fixing’ of the hands, which can occur when a saddle balance strap is used
Facilitates riding through spooks and bucks with less chance of the rider losing their reins / balance
Is ideal for home schooling, but may not be used within affiliated dressage competitions
As far as holding the bucking strap throughout, I would think that would give you very low rider effectiveness scores and possible horse submission as well. I think you are better off with a neck strap or breastplate and only grabbing it if something bad happens, as which point, you've lost the points anyway. Goodness knows the number of times I've received comments along the lines of "good job staying on and in the arena" are large enough that I recognize the value of non-gadget ways to improve safety.
I've worn a neck strap for a few years and no one has ever commented until GMHA last weekend! At the top of my test: "Chestnut, LH sock, neck strap". I'd like to wear a strap around my reins to keep my hands together and above the neck-think anyone would mind?
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
I have been told, though don't know if it is true, that a certain very BNR would often hold on to his breastplate through a dressage test on certain horses to be dead steady in his hands. I have no idea how true this is....I may have been told that when I was doing it to steady MY hands, to make me feel better. If it's true, I don't think it effected his scores.
I have to admit my best Prelim dressage score (landing me 8th out of almost thirty in an Open division at a spring season Area II event) was achieved with my pinkies hooked under the edge of my saddle pad for most of the test to cut down on 'fiddling'!