German martingale on the trail - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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German martingale on the trail

I am a novice rider with a new 5 yo Peruvian Paso. Previous owner had him on quite a severe bit, and trying to downgrade him to Kimberwicke curb. Have been training him using German martingale to set his head, but I have read that that equipment should not be used on the trail, since it is of course a training device and forces the horse to hold his head correctly. Going on trail ride next weekend; what are you guys' opinions ?
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post #2 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 09:44 AM
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I don't see a reason to use it from what you said. Using it as a head setter doesn't help the horse to properly, and moving properly is what sets the head. I don't think it should be used on the trail or off in this manner, but that's just me.

I think if you're concerned about headset, taking some lessons with a trainer will help you teach the horse how to move his body correctly.
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post #3 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 09:53 AM
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It's use on the trail is not an issue. But it's use to set the head is an issue. If you try to force a head set, you are forcing the horse to move unbalanced and out of it's natural way of moving.
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post #4 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 10:14 AM
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I see trail riding as a good way to clear the cobwebs. That being said, it does not mean training goes out the window.

Unless the horse is dangerous with head tossing, I would loosen the martingale on trail. The horse will still know it's there but not so restrictive that he is sore after the trail ride. If he becomes really naughty, you can tighten to remind him.
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post #5 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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yes, I am sorry. I didn't make it clear that my horse has been head-tossing quite a bit, sticking his nose in the air and getting all hollow-backed. Am using the German martingale on the first dee, which doesn't even bring him quite to vertical, is still above vertical. So am using it only in the mildest manner. Do you think we can go on the trail in this low setting ?
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post #6 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 12:28 PM
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I think I'd work on his head tossing issue at home to find out if there is something causing this. Teeth, discomfort someplace, bit type and fit...? There is usually a reason. We just have to find it.

Out on the trail I prefer to have as little equipment as possible. Less chance to get tangled in something. I want a horse to be able to look where she (I ride a mare) is going and what's ahead of her, at her feet and off to the sides. I think a trail horse needs freedom of movement of that head. When that head comes up she is looking at something and I want her to be comfortable with moving ahead. Often they can sense and see things we are not aware of. It's a partnership of sorts going down a trail.
If you use the martingale just make sure he has his head when he needs it and I'd stay out of the brush....Just my humble and meager advice.
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post #7 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, thank you. So much agreed that trail-riding is very much a partnership, and horse needs all of his senses, etc. My horse was unhappy in his previous severe bit, and I think the head-tossing habit developed there; it has improved with the Kimberwicke. Maybe I will try him with the running martingale before we go, and see how he does with that. So much appreciate all the responses.
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post #8 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 07:47 PM
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To be honest... I'd be interested to put him in something super gentle (like a french link snaffle)--in an arena or controlled area, of course--and see how he responds. I have heard of many head-tossers that became quiet when switched to a double jointed snaffle!

My horse's last owners always had him in a martingale, but I never use one--especially when I'm on the trails and am trusting my horse to maintain his balance. Over the past month, he has learned to relax his head/neck and lower them on his own (with occasional reminder bumps from me).

Last edited by existentialpony; 01-23-2013 at 07:49 PM.
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post #9 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, thanks ExPony. First thing I did was try mild snaffle, and unfortunately he ignores / runs through it. And I can't have that, he is quite high-energy and would rather run than walk, which is quite fun, BUT, i have to be able to stop him. Trying to use mildest bit which till affords me some control. His head-tossing is way better on the Kimberwicke. Just has nose-up-in-the-air tendency, gets pacey and hollow-backed, which is why I am training with the Germ martingale.
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post #10 of 23 Old 01-23-2013, 08:26 PM
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Anything but maybe a running martingale is dangerous on the trail, in my opinion. A trail horse's job is to take care of himself. In order to do this, he needs freedom of balance. Horses use their heads and necks to balance going up and down hills. A horse may need to lower his head and inspect footing before proceeding.

Branches and vines may snag on your equipment, he may get a leg through it while we eats or lowers his head, etc. An even worse distaster would be your horse tripping with a GM on. He would be unable to regain his balance, go down, thrash, still be unable to right himself, and hurt himself.

If you need a martingale, use a running. You can give him as much freedom with a running as needed by letting out your reins.

Also, have you been doing one rein stops when he "runs through" snaffle bits? Or any bit, really. Using two reins gives them something to brace against and run through. It's a lot harder to run away when you're only using one rein for control. One reins stops and lateral flexion may really help that head tossing problem. ;) He's also find that it's a lot harder work to be one-reined stopped every time he goes faster than a walker than to try to gait off with you. He may just choose to walk after a few consistant sessions.
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Last edited by Brighteyes; 01-23-2013 at 08:29 PM.
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