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THE distinctive Devoucoux Kolibri breastplate was launched in 2005 and quickly gained a following among eventers of all levels. It costs £180, but there’s a waiting list to buy one. We find out why

What is it?

PIPPA Funnell helped to design the Kolibri after becoming disenchanted with conventional breastgirths and breastplates, which she felt restricted the horse’s shoulder movement.

The Kolibri is a combination of a breastplate and a martingale — meaning you don’t need to sport the tangle of leatherwear you sometimes see adorning the chests of event horses.

The two elastic harnesses of the Kolibri can be adjusted to follow the angle of the shoulder, and are designed to allow freedom of shoulder movement over fences. It also has five points of attachment, to avoid undue pressure on a specific area.

Who uses it?

RUTH Edge does, on a number of her horses. She first borrowed one from Kenneth Clawson, after finding her saddle was not staying in place, and rode with one at Luhmühlen. She then bought one for herself.

“The Kolibri fits well and is particularly suitable for horses with a big shoulder movement.”

Eventing magazine’s Ellie Hughes, who events up to two-star level, is also a fan of the Kolibri.

“It may be expensive, but it’s worth it. With the Kolibri, you don’t get any pulling on the base of the neck as you can with traditional breastgirths,” says Ellie.

Anything else I should know?

“BREASTPLATES were sometimes used as an accessory to prevent badly fitted saddles from slipping backwards,” says Benjamin Auzimour from Devoucoux. “We think that if a saddle fits, you shouldn’t need a breastplate to hold it in place. The Kolibri was designed to act as a safety back-up — in case the saddle did ever slip — but to do so without putting uneven pressure across the chest or interfering with the shoulder rotation.”

“Show jumper Peter Murphy also found that, when using the Kolibri, he didn’t need to girth up as tightly as he would without it. This means there is less pressure from the horse’s girth or stud guard,” Benjamin adds.

How do I get one?

JOIN the queue. Devoucoux goods are hand-stitched in Biarritz, France, and the Kolibri is very much in demand — especially with the recent launch of the show jumping version. Nor can you buy one from your local tackshop.

Contact Devoucoux direct (tel: 01296 689012) or e-mail uk.contact@devoucoux.com to order.

The waiting list is currently around six weeks long, and the £180 price includes shipping.

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (23 November, ’06)