I think they get a bad rep. I was on here a while ago wondering about weither I should get a running or standing martingale. I got a running matringale for Christmas and I have been using it every day since and have had nothing but sucess. My horse "Doc" has a humongo problem cross country with getting his head super high and taking off and swinging it around. I thought I would never be able to ride him cross country [when I got him in September] and now ever since I started using the running martingale there has been a DRAMATIC difference. He hasn't been running off or swinging his head. I am able to stay in control while doing our cross country course. I am super excited. So if you have any opinion feel free to share. =]]
Do they get a bad rep? I can see that many people would put them on when they're totally unecessary but I can't see how they'd do any harm. It just looks better the less leather you need to ride, I guess. I've also heard they can be really useful for novice riders: I know of at least two instructors who will put them on all ponies for kids to learn to jump, since if they jab them in the mouth at least they're not yanking their head up and back - the martingale redirects the pressure in a less painful direction. I like them because (providing they are fitted correctly) they really only come into play when the horse DOES the thing that is wrong.
Standing martingales, however, I hate. Too many people use them when they are entirely unecessary and in those situations they CAN be dangerous. If I see one more person jumping in a standing I am going to scream.
I've always been of the opinion that you CAN fix any issue that would seem to need a martingale, WITHOUT a martingale. My horse, for example, had a HUGE problem with bit contact. Everytime I would pick up contact he would stick his head way up in the air, especially at the trot, and I could have put more equipment on him, but I chose not to. Now he's doing fantastic and is reaching for the bit and using his body correctly. Less is more, in my opinion.
I have both a standing and running martingale. I no longer use the standing because it was just putting a band-aid on the problem and not fixing it. After a couple of different bits, problem solved. I do have a running martingale that I use only when jumping. My mare is only 4 and learning how to jump. I figure if she does a bunny hop, or I get left behind somehow, I wouldn't be pulling directly on her mouth.
Okay. I agree with the fact that standing martingales are HORRIBLE. I have seen way too many people flip their horses over with the IMPROPER use of one. Running martingales do only correct a horse when he does something wrong. That is what makes them so great for anyone. =]]
I do agree with those who've said sticking more leather on a hrose is just masking a problem, but you get the same with ANY gadget in riding. I like running martingales though, because they are VERY useful for novice riders, for horses that throw their heads around PURELY because they are being bratty or for honest to god accidents which could break a rider's nose or teeth.