I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself riding at the racetrack, in part because it was always dark and in part because everyone was busy, you know, working. But I was looking for one where you could see how I like to grip the neck strap.
I only hold it with my right hand unless I need to have both hands to check a horse. Why the right? Well, I’m more dexterous with my right hand and my right fingers work independently better than my left fingers. But also because when jogging a horse along the outside rail, I like the option of snatching a bolter back with my left hand, towards the rail.
This chestnut was particularly notorious for bolting with no warning at all, so I usually rode with my left rein very short and my hand very far forward, to catch him back quickly, but that’s another story. In the meantime, my right hand (which is cocked a little) has my ring finger and pinkie hooked over the neck strap. Not just for security, but, again, in case he bolted towards the inside, I had that pressure to pull against his neck, back towards the outer rail.
This is why I think stirrup leathers are awfully thick for this kind of riding, and I prefer a neck yoke. It would be very hard to ride with any kind of sensitivity or security with a stirrup leather hooked through two fingers, in addition to reins.