I'm asking for opinions here. Yes, this thread is similar to the draw reins thread :P
Yes it is a training aid, and that being said, largely depends on who it is that is using it. But the problem I find is that the people who are more inclined to use them, are the ones who really shouldn't be.
I personally dislike using any sort of training aid except as a last resort. I will use side reins while lunging every once in a while to help build topline, and, coming originally from a hunter background, I used to think I should be strapping standing martingales on any horse. 5 or 6 years ago I came to the realization that if my riding was correct I shouldn't need one, and stopped riding in them all together in order to really improve my riding.
There is, however, one horse who I ride over the summer that almost everyone uses a standing martingale with. For the longest time I wouldn't use one with him, and on the flat there was (is) no difference in him while I'm riding with or without martingale.
When jumping however, he has the tendency to get excited and throw his head up attempting to avoid aids. Now for the longest time I didn't put much thought to it. He was perfectly controllable, just made things a little more difficult then otherwise. I wasn't too concerned however, because we are very solid on the flat and he listens very well to leg and seat aids.
Well, one day, I hopped on him to run a course after one of my friends had been jumping him with a running martingale. I was giving him back to her (I just wanted to try out the course cause it looked fun xD), so I wasn't going to bother taking the martingale off or anything. But when I jumped this course, there was a very noticible difference in the way he went. Because he couldn't throw his head in the air every time he saw a jump, I had a much easier time with him and getting him to relax (a little) and concentrate instead of simply getting all excited. After this, I started to use a martingale with him every time we were doing work 3' or up.
My problem with them, is that I find people grabbing them and putting them on any horse just "for safety", or because they can't control the horse otherwise. My opinion is that if you can't ride the horse without the training aids, you should not be riding them at all. Even worse, I see people jumping in standing martingales. I know this is common practice, I used to do it myself, but i now understand how dangerous it can be, and it really bothers me.
Sorry for the novel, but the question is, what do you guys think about running martingales. Do you think it's right for me to use one just to make things a little bit easier? The end result is always the same (almost always a very good one) whether I'm using the martingale or not, the martingale just makes it easier to get there.
They are not a training aid. They are a Vice created by man, for man.
They are a Preventative Gadget, that's it - nothing more, nothing less.
I am quite curious to know how you use a Running Martingale as a Training Tool? What is it that you are doing while you ride, that teaches the horse to not throw their head up?
IMO, a running martingale is NOT a training aid, it is a "safety device" for horses that throw their heads wildly. It should only be used while the rider/trainer works with the horse on correcting the problem. Once the problem has been addressed and solved, the martingale should be removed.
Same with a standing martingale. The two have basically the same function, with different mechanics.
For western riders reading this, the running martingale is the same as a training fork and the standing martingale is the same as a tie down. Both are often used on jumping horses.
Maybe training aid was the wrong term to use. In my head I tend to lump all tack that aren't the very basics (saddle, bridle, breastplate, boots) as training aids, though I know that's not necessarily true.
I don't do anything while using it that teaches him not to throw his head up (that's my problem with martingales in the first place).
ETA: The head isn't necessarily a huge problem. Like I said in my original post, he is still under control and goes fine. He's never successful in his attempts to evade the bit, but he tries it nonetheless. That's why I'm not sure whether I feel I'm right to use the martingale. It just makes it easier for me the keep him under control (not barreling around on the forehand) so I can concentrate on other things like the mechanics of the course.
Before even attempting a course, you should get him under control, 100% of the time. Go back and work on Dressage to get him balanced and listening on the flat, at all gaits. Then introduce small single jumps and gymnastics that include trot/canter poles, caveletties, and small jumps in a single line. Work on the basics until he's solid BEFORE moving on to courses or higher jumps.
You might be ready for course work, but it doesn't sound like your horse is.
Uhm, I'm not trying to be rude, but you've seem to have missed the, he IS under control part. He is great on the flat as a general rule (though he can be picky about his rider). I am never EVER in fear of losing control while riding, on the flat or jumping. I promise you he is perfectly ready for the level he's at. He just get's excited because he really enjoys what he does. Go watch Grand Prix jumpers, most of their horses go around with their heads up in the air. If the riders let them they would be slightly out of control. That's just the way it is.
This thread was not suposed to be about what I should or shouldn't be doing with this horse. It is about your take on running martingales, and about whether you think I should be using it in this situation. Just that, nothing else, no advice.
If he's "barreling around on the forehand" as you stated, and you feel the need for either a gadget or to really "man-handle" the reins, then he's not under control.
You need to work on getting him balanced and driving from behind on the flat at all gaits and over small fences. The minute he starts "barreling around on the forehand", you need to STOP your course and school on the flat until he's not on the forehand, then school over a few small jumps or a gymnastic until he's not on the forehand over fences. Then continue with your course.
If he's on the forehand just at the beginning, then you need to lunge and school on the flat until he's working well for you, then start your course right.
You are the on who turned this thread into an advice thread by explaining your situation and "need" for a martingale. I am simply trying to tell you how I feel that a martingale is not necessary in your situation.
My "barreling around on the forehand comment" was me specifying that he is NOT doing that. What I said was "It just makes it easier for me the keep him under control (not barreling around on the forehand)". I was simply trying to elaborate on my definition of "under control" in this situation. I said numerous times that he IS under control, thus, not barreling around on the forehand. The running martingale makes it easier to keep him this way without all my focus being put into keeping him from crashing through jumps, which would probably end up happening if I let him be. Also, I feel the need to specify that he only gets this excited when it gets above 3 feet. He is not crazy or anything, if i let him have his way, he wouldn't be galloping madly, but he probably wouldn't make it over the jumps. Anything below 3 feet and he looks like a little hunter/jumper pony xD
This is not meant to be an argument, and I guess that was simply a confusing way to state things on my part and a misunderstanding on yours. Sorry, please forgive :]
Gottcha! I understand now. Well, jumping over 3' is going to be "fun" for many horses. I did some with a TB gelding, just stadium to 4'. He didn't need a martingale, but I did have to step up his bit to a mullen Pelham with double reins (he used a loose ring french link for dressage and jumping to 2'6"). He didn't like martingales and would fuss with them, so I just went up a level in bit instead. Plus, I didn't like how the running restricted the reins. I like to be able to use an opening rein when needing, which I couldn't do very well with a running.
if you cant do an opening rein then your running martingale is too tight, they should actually be pretty long & not have any affect unless the horses head is way up in the air. when they are holding their head at their normal level there should be slack in the martingale. thats why a running is way better than a standing, it provides much more freedom.
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