German Martingale - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 09-24-2011, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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German Martingale

So I've been using the german on my gelding Rebel for awhile now, and he's an angel when its on. His headset is beautiful, he collects, has fantastic flexion and position over every pattern I set him on (We were using it as a training aid for dressage)

Well now here's my dilemma...I can't use the martingale in the actual show, and he totally falls apart without it. I have been trying to get the same results and balance him without the contraption on his face but its proven harder than it should be, because everytime I put his head back down with my hands he brings it back up again. I've spent a LOT of time just bringing his head down and only messing with his face when his head isn't where I want it.

My biggest issue with this, is he will drop his head so softly into place, but he won't keep it there. He bobs up and down (Not like an I'm-injured-and- lame-bobbing, but more like I-wonder-how-high-I-can-get-my-head-before-she-notices... type thing)

Should I just stop riding him in the martingale and focus only on training without it, or should I keep riding in it and maybe it'll get better? I ride him five days a week for 2+ hrs generally, not all of it is spent in the martingale though.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #2 of 37 Old 09-24-2011, 11:37 PM
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either go cold turkey, only use it when he's doing terribly, or preferably over time, maybe once a week, adjust it so it's slightly looser untill he doesnt need it at all. but whatever you do don't keep using it as is.

also, too much emphasis on the head imo.
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post #3 of 37 Old 09-25-2011, 02:46 AM
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yeah, you can't develop a dependence on it. Do you know if there is any reason why your horse bobs his head up and down? What will he do if you have hardly any contact? does he run along with his head up at all times?

Have you tried taking up a reasonable contact and then leaving it the same more or less and working on getting him to step more vigorously forward?

Is it possible that his head tossing is related to saddle fit or bit dicomfort? I , of course, am not implying there is such, but those are things you want to think about first.
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post #4 of 37 Old 09-25-2011, 04:09 AM
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Aren't german martingales just a strap with a ring either end that goes infront of the horses neck to stop the reing going over the horses head or do I have the wrong piece of equipment in mind?

I think from the way that germans works, it could be that he is used to the contact being "closer together" or something, so maybe without it your hands are wider and he isn't used to the feel he had before and therefor doesn't maintain?
I agree with the others, I dont use a piece of equipment when I am riding if I can't use it in the show ring.

Edit, my bad, wrong piece of equipment LOL! Was thinking Irish Martingale

Last edited by CessBee; 09-25-2011 at 04:12 AM.
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post #5 of 37 Old 09-25-2011, 04:18 AM
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I would say go without it, or maybe just use it say once or twice a week or something.

Mitch and I are having the same problem at the moment, but we have started without any extra equipment so he's learning fast what I want.

What happens if you growl him and keep asking him down when he's bobbing his head around?
If Mitch starts that and I growl him and keep asking him down (Just the standard "AAH!") he puts his head right back down, I don't go easy on him at all because I don't want him thinking he can walk over me.
So far we've been working on it about a week, but he's getting far better.

Good luck, just keep trying :)

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms

Last edited by HollyBubbles; 09-25-2011 at 04:24 AM.
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post #6 of 37 Old 09-25-2011, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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He's been ridden in a high headed frame forever...I never thought much of it or minded when we were just gaming because thats where he liked it and it didnt effect anything we were doing, but now we are doing more performance classes, dressage, equitation...and I wanted to paint a prettier picture.

If I am not continuously drawing his head down he will put his head right back up. I ask by barely touching one rein, or by see-sawing my hands and squeezing with my legs)

I haven't tried "Growling" at him Maybe I should though. I'm pretty good at putting his head right back down as soon as he brings it up, but at what point does repetition not work? LOL. I've spent so much of our ride doing that, that I feel like it's a game for him now.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #7 of 37 Old 09-26-2011, 04:20 AM
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Possibly try a tie down, then that way it only comes into effect when his head is up.

Also see-sawing is not the correct way to get a contact. I know you ride western but still, a slight touch, like you said, should do it, just lightly play with the inside rein.
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post #8 of 37 Old 09-26-2011, 10:24 AM
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More gimmicks and devices are not the answer. You need to get some help from someone that is successful and can see your horse and how you are riding him.

You should only ask for a few strides at a time and make sure you give a good release.
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post #9 of 37 Old 09-26-2011, 10:44 AM
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I used to have tons of trouble with this and thought I would never really "get his head set" The problem was that he didn't have the muscle to hold himself. Pulling the head down and in (ex. german or running martingale or seesawing) causes the horse to drop its head but fail to step under itself and achieve any type of collection. They lean on the bit more and fail to hold their own head up.

Even though I could force Jake to run around with his head down I soon figured that my arms were going to fall off if I kept using that method, probably his mouth too. So when I really started to work with him holding himself and moving correctly he could only do it for a few strides before he would lift his head and drop it again. It became a battle of trying to force him to hold it...which he never did. He never tried because there was no release.

I figured out to release him BEFORE he dropped the collection, and that helped everything. If he would go three strides before coming out of the bridle and dropping his back, I would release him at two. That way he started to try harder, and we started building the correct muscle for him to hold himself together with no gadgets. He knew there was going to be an end to the hard work and that I wasn't going to force him to use more stamina than he had. Two strides collected, 10 strides relaxed, 2 strides collected, 10 strides relaxed.....ext but stop that before your horse gets too tired for the day. I found its all about not overworking and the horse understanding that it won't have to be working that hard for a long time.
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Last edited by Horsesdontlie; 09-26-2011 at 10:47 AM.
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post #10 of 37 Old 09-26-2011, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Just as a clarification - The see-sawing was how I was taught, and I use it when he's being very hard mouthed as a "Second step", I touch one rein to draw his face down, and if he doesn't listen, I go ahead and see-saw and just increase my leg pressure and release one he does as I ask.

Horsesdontle, I'll try that, thanks :)

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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