Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: ~*~ NEBRASKA ~*~
There are different types of martingales and they do different things. The #1 most important thing is that you know how to properly use any equipment you put on your horse, otherwise you can get yourself and your horse into danger.
I have only ever used 1 type of martingale, so that is the only one I can tell you about. It's the "German Martingale" and it connects to the girth, comes up between the fore legs then forks off. Each side of the fork goes through the O ring of your bit, preferably a snaffle and connects to D's that are on your reins.
Many people use this type to try to FORCE a horse into correct frame...this is bad use of this martingale and can cause uneven muscling in the neck as well as put your horse's weight on his fore when used this way. I do not recommend this martingale for this purpose at all.
I use it to help me "correct" when my horse throws his head up. I am older and a bit too slow to correct and reward my horse when he pops his head up. I use mine on the very loosest ring and basically I am riding purely on my own reins. It only engages and puts pressure on his bridle when he REALLY throws his head up and as soon as he lowers it a bit it will disengage and give the "reward." Mind you, it is set so he can raise his head out of "correct frame" , it only engages in the EXTREME stargazing moments. It also does not interfere at all with him stretching his head downh, in fact he can put his nose on his hooves if he wants. I also only use it for a week only, then take it right off and don't use it for a month or so. Some horses come to rely on them and then it's really hard to undo that.