The owner's dad helped me tack her up, barrel saddle and breastcollar, standard gaming bit (twisted wire mouth Wonderbit... scared me a little), and tie down. He explained that she sometimes tossed her head, and the tie down was just there to remind her not to should she "get a mare-ish attitude". I didn't argue, they were beyond generous to offer the mare, she's used to this tack, and I don't know much about tie-downs and martingales - I just don't use them on my own horses as I've never had a need to.
Several times on the ride we went up or down steep-ish banks, into and out of creek beds, etc., situations where a horse could really use some freedom of the head and neck to balance and comfortably negotiate the terrain. Between the uber-short gaming reins and the tie down, I really felt like she could have been more comfortable and used herself better without all of the hardware.
What are your thoughts? Does anyone else ride trails with a tie-down or martingale for whatever reason?
We had an awesome day for a ride, through some gorgeous autumn country. Wish I'd thought to take pics.