Breastplate/running martingale question
The horse I've been riding has been having some sort of "itchy" spots on her back, so we recently gave her a breastplate, with a running martingale. First of all, is that normal, or is it sometimes a standing martingale? Moving on. I noticed the rings on her gag rein (I think that's what it's called. It's the one that exerts poll pressure) which, in theory, should put constant pressure on them, therefore keeping her head lower. Is this true? In addition, since I've been trying to collect her and pick up her head (to get her to work off her rear, silly downhill horse!), will this interfere very much? Thanks so much for any help!
(PS: For anyone who remembers my old saddle thread, I finally got that saddle. Its a very nice Wintec that they don't make anymore I know 2 other people own and its wonderful. My trainer recommended it herself, and she NEVER recommends Wintecs (for obvious reasons.) Thanks for all the saddle knowledge, though!)
I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to clarify a few things:
1) Why did you introduce the breastplate and running martingale?
2) Could you please re-phrase your questions? It might be just me (very possible) but I'm not understanding.
A running martingale is only used for horses that flip their heads up and back, endangering the rider's head with the violent flipping. It will not, and should not, effect the horse's head carriage unless the horse's mouth comes above his wither height.
Regarding bits and headset: A bit does not make the headset. A false headset can be achieved by using a bit, sure, but true headset (and roundness and collection) comes from the horse driving from behind, having proper impulsion, and learning to carry his entire body round. I personally greatly dislike elevator bits, I much prefer to teach a horse to carry themselves properly with nothing but a simple snaffle. I have a feeling that the horse's problems stem from a training issue, not a tack issue - however, I would switch the horse to a snaffle 'till they learn to carry themselves properly.
Hey JDI, I don't mean to hijack this thread or anything, but right quick can I get a proper answer on what a standing martingale is REALLY for? I've only ever ridden in the jumpers and I know standing martingales are a "trend" in hunters, and never having had to use one on any horse of mine, I'm kind of interested in knowing the answer. I have an idea that it's probably for riding a quiet horse over even terrain and whatnot, since it doesn't allow the horse to use its head to balance itself past a certain point, I assume? Right track, or no?
Not JDI, sorry, but I'll take a stab at this.
Standing martingales are traditional in hunters; where running martingales are not allowed. The only function of a standing martingale is that it keeps the horse from raising its head above the effective range of the bit. That's it. You see primarily them on field hunters and show hunters, occassionally on jumpers. They are illegal for both the xc and showjumping phase of an event.
The disadvantage of a standing martingale is that smart and lazy horses learn to lean on them and balance on them rather than carrying themselves. People mistakenly put them on inverted horses, as an expedient to keep the ears out of the rider's nostrils, but a standing martingale allows an inverted or hollow horse to brace comfortably against the martingale and confirms the inverted or hollow way of going.
There is an unfortunate sentiment in the hunter ring that a standing martingale somehow "dresses up" the horse; so you'll see correct, round, balanced lovely movers wearing one for absolutely no functional reason.
Thank you Maura for a wonderful explanation, as always :)
I am also confused JDI, it's not just you. I don't quite see the connection between itchy spots on the back and the use of a breastplate... If the breastplate came with a running martingale attachment, simply take it off.
I agree 100% with JDI on the collection/headset issue. I primarily show Western events, and any time I need to work on collection I break out my snaffle bit. I never use a martingale, because my show horse is trained well enough that with some collection, he carries himself how he should.
I also agree with JDI that the questions need to be clarified. I'm an English major and I can't figure out exactly what you're asking. (Not trying to be rude, I'm just a little confused.)
If I understand correctly, you're using a gag bit with two sets of reins. The one that attaches at the same level as the mouthpiece is called the snaffle rein. The one you attach lower (hence the poll pressure) is called the curb rein, I think. If I'm wrong, please let me know. I'm not sure what you mean by rings on the rein, so if you could clarify that point, someone might be better able to answer.
What exactly does "itchy" mean?
And will what interfere with collection? I think you mean poll pressure and a lower headset, in which case, see above.
I didn't mean to go into the use of her breastplate, but okay.
She had some sores on her back from an ill fitting blanket that people stupidly kept irritating, and so whenever she was not well padded and with a saddle at exactly the right position (fairly far forward) she would flinch and often the saddle would fall off because of this. And in addition, she liked to do this between jumps. Very not fun. Breastplate solved the problem, she doesn't ever flinch.
As for the martingale thing- My trainer is a firm believer in gag bits and martingales "for safety." I have NO IDEA how this is safer, but all of the horses but three wear standing martingales, two of them not having one at all (I think two of these horses actually have non gag bits, one an elevator and the other a Dee ring I think) and my horse that has the running one. I think the only reason she has a running one now is because of the breastplate.
I didn't mean for this to fly off of the topic of her not being able to lift her head as well, but I'm actually glad to see it and learn. So...Uhh...Continue I guess?
EDIT: Yes JDI, her downhillness is from nobody ever teaching her to use her hind legs. It has nothing to do with tack. I'm just trying to fix it (and doesn't drag her feet anymore because of this, yay.)
Gag bit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This has some good albeit basic information on gag bits. "Gag bits are used mainly for horses that are strong pullers or for horses that need retraining. Gag bits are most commonly seen in polo, eventing (especially for cross-country), show jumping, and hacking, mainly for increased control at times where a horse may be excited or try to run off with the rider."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martingale_(tack) "A standing martingale may cause great pain to a horse if misused in combination with certain other equipment. If used in conjunction with a gag bit, a standing martingale can trap the head of the horse, simultaneously asking the horse to raise and lower its head and providing no source of relief in either direction. This combination is sometimes seen in polo, in some rodeo events, and occasionally in the lower levels of jumping."
I know you use a running martingale, but I'm not sure why that would give more control. Maybe you could ask your trainer to explain her reasoning and pass it on to us? =) I'm always up for learning. But I would be hesitant to use any type of martingale all the time.
Regardless of all this OT stuff, I would say look to JDI for advice. See if you can get your horse collected in a snaffle. If you can't, I would seriously be wondering why. I can't imagine any horse NEEDING a gag and martingale for control all of the time. I'm not trying to slam anybody, and if someone has a differing opinion, please share. But it seems like your horse has been forced into position with equipment rather than taught to carry herself.
So I do want to tip my hat to you for wanting to teach her (or refresh her on)collection.
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