The best way to stay steady in the tack is with correct equitation, but sometimes we can use some extra help: over drop jumps cross-country, spinning turns on a reining horse, sitting the extended trot on a big warmblood, holding the lines steady while driving a carriage through water obstacles.
No-slip products come in an array of materials and containers. There's a wide range of stickiness that corresponds directly to a reverse range of convenience: The stickier the product, the messier it is to use, and the harder it is to clean up.
The two moderately sticky products, Effax and Sekur-Grip, come in convenient push-up tubes that resemble a deodorant tube. They have a soft, waxy consistency and can be applied before mounting or go into a pocket to be reapplied while on horseback.
Sporty Haft-Spray, is exactly that, an aerosol spray that is most easily applied before mounting. Two ointments, Guter Sitz and Friction Wax, come in small cans and are the stickiest products in this trial. They should be applied before riding, using a cloth, because they're difficult to wash off of your fingers.
Our Trial. We started with a hand check and found a range of stickiness that remained when the stuff went onto our breeches, from lightest to tightest: Effax, Sekur-Grip, Sporty Haft-Spray, Guter Sitz and Friction Wax.
We then test-rode these products while wearing full-seat breeches in both real and synthetic leather, plus fabric-seat breeches and jeans. We smeared them on saddle seats and flaps and on the inside of boots and chaps. The range of products corresponded in effectiveness to the material in the pants. In general, they all worked best on leather, but synthetic leather was a close second.
We found that stability in the saddle with these products can also be affected by the fit of your pants. If your pants are loose, well, they're going to stick to the saddle while your seat can still pop up. And, if the pants stick to the saddle, you could get some moderate rubs on your skin with loose-fitting leather full-seats because the leather inside your beeches is going one way and you're going another—be pre-emptive with Vasoline or baby powder on your skin.
We also found that the solid products go on more easily when they're warmed up. Carry them in a pocket while you're grooming and tacking up so that they cover smoothly rather than just leaving spotty globs.
Effax was no help at all with a cloth seat. It provided moderate tackiness on synthetic leather and real leather, lasting about 15 minutes. We carried it in a pocket and reapplied as needed while riding.
Sekur-Grip has been renamed from the familiar "Sadltite" name since it's now promoted for a wide variety of sports and other uses that require enhanced friction. Along with the name, the formula was altered slightly to make it smoother to apply. Sekur-Grip provided a little bit of increased friction with cloth seats, better with synthetic leather and real leather. The pocket-friendly tube makes it easy to re-apply while you're on horseback.
You may be tempted to put on Effax or Sekur-Grip extra thick at the start so that they last longer, but they seem to work better—and you use less—if you re-apply them.
You won't want to carry a can of Sporty Haft-Spray when you ride, but you won't need to. The stickiness lasts through an hour of riding, holding full-seat breeches (both synthetic and real leather) down while we post during warm up and then easing up a bit but still effective. We didn't use Sporty Haft-Spray on cloth seats or jeans because it stained them. We loved how the spray provided a consistent feel of contact over the entire surface of the saddle.
Guter Sitz went onto tack and boots in blotches and made an ‘interesting' sound at first while we posted. As body heat caused it to spread, it provided a firm, steady connection with the saddle for over an hour of riding. We didn't use it with light-colored breeches because of staining.
Friction Wax also blotches onto the tack or your boots and you hear a distinct squeak at first while posting. It spreads out over the tack as you ride and clearly enhances security. You probably won't want to use Guter Sitz or Friction Wax on leather gloves because they're just too messy.
Clean-Up. The lighter wax in Effax and Sekur-Grip appears to rub clean from the tack while riding and indeed seems to have a conditioning effect. We also learned with beeswax products like Effax and Sekur-Grip that some riders who do a lot of jumping like to let it build up on their saddle flaps, rather than cleaning it off, to provide a more reliable grip there.
Sporty Spray, Guter Sitz and Friction Wax should all be cleaned after use from wherever you apply them or they can become tacky and the leather roughened. The manufacturer of Friction Wax recommends using the heat from a hair dryer if it remains on your saddle or breeches, following up with soap if needed.
We washed our breeches in cold water, hanging them to dry, and our jeans in warm water/dryer. Effax and Sekur-Grip left no marks on the clothes. Sporty Spray and Guter Sitz left stains on the fabric seat of light-colored breeches. Friction Wax didn't stain the fabric on our breeches and jeans but did leave a waxy residue when washed in cold water. (We didn't even want to consider the possibility of using a dryer in that case, when a coating of this stuff could be left inside it.)
Therefore, if you're going to wear dark fabric breeches or jeans, Sporty Spray or Guter Sitz may be okay. Don't use Friction Wax on a fabric seat if you're going to sit on anything other than a saddle. If your ride is a short one, you may also want to be careful what you sit on afterward if the stuff hasn't completely melted off.
All of these products will tend to darken both real leather and synthetic leather.
Convenience. Effax and Sekur-Grip are easy to use and to clean, but you may need a pocket handy, and of course we don't always have pockets available when we ride, especially in warmer weather when coats and vests are discarded. Sporty Spray is the easiest product here to get complete and lasting coverage, plus it's also simple to clean from tack and from breeches.
Guter Sitz and Friction Wax really need to be warmed before using and should be applied with a cloth, making sure you don't get any of it on your hands or your horse. You may need warm water and maybe even a hair dryer to clean your tack. You also need to check your breeches to make sure the stuff gets out of them during washing.
Bottom Line. These are all useful products that do exactly what they claim. Pick the product that provides the degree of friction you need. Our top choice is Sporty Haft-Spray because the spray covers the entire seat of the saddle quickly and easily, and it lasts through an hour of riding. It's also easy to clean up.
The Best Buy goes to Friction Wax, with maximum stickiness at the minimum price per amount of product.
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