The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines a gadget as an “often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty”
While this definition may suit our latest kitchen tool, it doesn’t really address the term gadget when it is used in the equestrian context. To us at Correct Connect we have considered a gadget as a piece of equipment that would use leverage forcing the horse into some kind of position that they cannot get out of. Draw reins would be a good example of a gadget.
The FEI Rules for Eventing labels Micklem Bridle clips, blinkers, bit guards, wings on bits, compression masks, various rein and bridle combinations, nose strips during dressage, neck straps during dressage and various other items as gadgets. Clearly it seems that the definition of gadget to the FEI isn’t really well defined. It is a term used to outlaw anything they don’t like... even if it encourages better riding. As a recent customer said to us: “The reins actually make your hands so much better that maybe they wouldn’t need those bits”.
Is a bit a gadget? Or is it only a gadget when used in poorly educated hands? How about a saddle or a martingale? Where does the line get drawn between equipment and horse welfare because we all know none of them signed up for this anyways. Is our desire to rethink how riders ride and how horses respond, a good reason to create equipment that would help riders ditch harsh bits, tight martingales and draw reins? Is keeping older riders in the saddle worth developing equipment that allows them to be more comfortable and make their horses more comfortable?
We know that learning to ride takes time…a lifetime actually. Should we all go back on the lunge line until we are so perfect that we can just hop on and head to an FEI event or is it ok to use something that might give us that lightbulb moment that makes us better riders for our horses?
As one of our customers so beautifully wrote: “So what if it is a gadget? We humans use our brains and make tools to do things better. It is our super power. Does this hurt the horse? No. Will it be life-changing for everyone? Probably not. This company makes thoughtful products to help imperfect riders get better.”
What do you think is a gadget?