Building a Kicking Strap

click images to enlarge

This is how the kicking strap is constructed. The small billet fastens to the harness back strap using a conway buckle or other type fastener.

Figure 1 - click to see entire image

Closeup of center assembly

Buckle, slot and keeper

Figure 3

This is the promised article on building a kicking strap. You can construct this model of kicking strap using basic tools. You will need to be able to sew but it can be done with a stitching awl if that’s all you’ve got. If you have a machine that will let you sew with heavy nylon thread or buttonhole twist, you’ll have a tool that will hold up through most anything. If you can’t, see if you can glue everything lightly together with contact cement and take it to your local shoe repair for final (STRONG) sewing.

You will need scissors, a nail, a pair of plyers and a candle or gas stove burner in addition to a way to do the sewing.

The material list measurements I’m giving you are for a horse-sized kicking strap. If you drive a mini, you will need to scale the lengths of the various straps down. I would suggest you use the same widths.

Cut the following pieces out of 2″ or 1″ nylon strap as noted. This is going to protect you so use the good stuff, not the flimsy soft stuff. If you can’t find nylon strap in bulk, let me know and I’ll give you some idea where to look.

Here’s the materials list:

2″x38″ – this is the overstrap/billets
2″x115″ – this is the understap to which the buckles and keepers will be sewed
2-2″x5″ – these are the keepers which are fastened below the buckles. You can buy ready made keepers instead if you prefer.
2-1″x10″ – these are the lateral supports for the center back billet (ends angled as shown in Figure 2). These keep the kicking strap from folding in half and becoming ineffective.
1″x14″ – this is the center back billet which fastens to the harness back strap
2-2″ buckles – try to find stainless buckles. Don’t use brass, it is too soft. If you can’t find stainless, use chrome plated iron. You NEED the strength. If you must use brass, make sure the buckles have stainless tongues as this is the part of a brass buckle most likely to give under pressure.
Here’s the construction sequence:

  1. Seal all the cut ends using a lighter, the flame of a candle or the flame from the burner of a gas stove. Your goal is smooth ends with no protrusions. Good looks won’t make your kicking strap stronger but it will make it easier to buckle when you’re trying to get hitched to go play.
  2. Sew the ends of the keepers together making loops.
  3. Burn slots in the ends of the longest strap 3½” from each end. See Figure 1. Do not cut these holes or they might rip under use. Burning/melting holes in the nylon reinforces the hole, making it stronger, ensuring it will hold up to the abuse you anticipate it will receive. The slots run lengthwise of the strap to allow the tongue to pivot easily toward and away from the buckle.
  4. Thread the keeper onto the strap.
  5. Slide the buckle onto the end and stitch across both layers to hold the buckle in place.
  6. Slide the keeper toward the buckle. Make sure the seam is hidden between the two layers of nylon. Stitch the keeper in place. You’ll need to add a couple stategic stitches to keep the keeper from rotating and exposing the seam.
    Fold this strap in half matching the buckle ends and mark the fold/center. Lay the strap down with the back side of the buckles facing up.
  7. Place the 1″x14″ billet strap on the marked fold/center.
  8. Place each 1″x10″ angle ended strap so one end rests on the above billet and the other sits on top the strap onto which you’ve sewn the buckles. See Figure 3.
  9. Zigzag the two angled ends to the billet. Baste the other end of the angled straps to the long 2″ strap.
  10. Fold the remaining strap (2″x38″) and mark the center.
  11. Place the center over the billet, angle and long strap assembly matching center mark and edges. Sew the sandwich together through all layers.
  12. Burn holes in the ends of the 2″x38″ strap at corresponding locations. These holes are where the buckle fastens. Make the holes longer than they are wide and large enough to easily accept the tongue of the buckle. Add additional holes for adjustment. Set the holes about 2″ apart.

When you use the kicking strap, buckle the billet to the back strap so the wide part of the strap on or just behind the highest point of the hindquarters. Make sure the strap is over all parts of the harness except the reins.

If the kicking strap cannot be adjusted short enough to be effective (4″ slack between top of rump and strap), wrap the buckle end of the strap around the shaft once. If you have to wrap more than once to get it properly adjusted, wrap once to the front and once to the back. Make sure the sides are evenly adjusted or the harness back strap will be pulled toward the shorter side.

The billet of the kicking strap allows the hindquarter of the horse to move from side to side without effecting the fit of the kicking strap. The 4″ of slack (total) allows the horse to trot and the hindquarter to bounce up and down in stride but prevents the hindquarter from lifting high enough for the hind legs to hit anything should the horse decide to buck/kick.

As with anything, your mileage may vary. You may have a horse who kicks with one hind leg standing still. The kicking strap will do nothing for that. It’s not a miracle cure, it’s a tool designed to help keep you safer.

Q: Why make it out of nylon…is leather not a good idea?

A: Leather is heavy, harder to maintain and not as strong. Nylon is much better.

Q: I am going to really be confused with the lengths for the mini…any suggestions for measurement from where to where?

A: You’re better off using 2″ and 1″ as specified.

To measure, figure out where you’re going to fasten the billet to the back band. Then measure from there to the highest point of the hindquarters. Add 5″ or 6″. You’ll have to figure out the length of the two angle straps. For the strap itself you’ll need to measure from shaft to shaft over the hindquarters. You’ll need to buy a piece of strap that’s about 18″ longer than that measurement.

The goal is to have the buckles for the straps that wrap around the shafts end set just below the hip so you’ll need to measure from hip to hip and add a foot to that. Now cut that much off the strap and you’ve got your long strap and your short strap and you should be ready to assemble. Webbing isn’t that expensive. After you’ve made your first you’ll have the knowledge to do a better job on the second. Use the less well done one at home for training and the nicer one for marathon at the events.