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post #1 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 07:24 AM Thread Starter
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Back again and with a question

Hi,

haven't been here for a looking time (again) 🙈. So first of all a little update on us:

Of course we kept working on our issues - or rather, on MY issues 😂. Anyway, we did improve our canter, although I'm still nowhere near where I want to be 🙈 I'm mostly using voice cues for gait changes and stops now - especially for changing into the canter. I found it simply works best for us and as we aren't going on any shows it doesn't matter anyway 🙃

As it is winter again, and the weather is cooler now, Lucky has a tendency to "run" - as she always does during this time of year. I guess she simply has more energy and in the cold weather it's simply more fun, too (for her at least). Bad thing about that? No matter wether at a trot or at a canter: the head is in the sky and you reeeally have to hold her back!


Nooow, since the beginning of December we've got a friend who is now also riding Lucky regularly. She came to our stable with her own pony, which is too small for her (she has 3 kids who are sharing her pony) and as she liked Lucky and Lucky likes her she's now partially riding her/working with her.

So far, Lucky seems to enjoy the extra exercise a lot. She gets to work more, gets to canter a loooot (which she really loves and doesn't get to do enough with me anyway) and she even learns a few things I could never have reached her properly as I don't know how to do them myself.

Sounds perfect? In theory, yes! But there's one thing bothering me a bit: as at this time of year Lucky keeps running around with her head very high and is hard to convince to go nicely and at a normal pace, our friend has suggested to put a martingale on her, so if she takes her head too high, she can't evade the rein cues ... Until then, I've never ridden before with a martingale (not on Lucky, nor on any other horse). It works fine so far and doesn't seem to bother her and as long as my horse is happy, I'm happy too but of course, as with anything that's new to me, I've started reading into it and I'm not so sure this is how it's supposed to be used?? ... On the one hand I find a lot of info about this being the wrong usage of a martingale as it should only prevent the reins from tangling up or going over the neck if you fall... On the other hand I do find information and even articles about it being used exactly for this reason. I even found information of something similar being used in western riding (we're still doing English riding) - a training fork. Although, despite the missing neck ring, I find no difference in it.

Now, my fiancee says the way our friend is using it is bad for my horse because with it Lucky tends to "hide" (puts her nose too far back) sometimes (mind you not always and she does come back to a normal position again). She does that, too, sometimes without any additional tack, if you ask her to collect - she even did that when we first had her with a professional trainer for a month a year after I got her... And she's doing it with any rider, not just that friend, from time to time no matter if you use a martingale, side reins, anything else or just nothing. She just has times where she'd rather just run around with her head in the air (which isn't very healthy either) and then she has times where she does that...

So is there anyone here who uses a martingale and knows if it is ok to use it like that?
As said, Lucky doesn't mind it - she usually shows very well what she likes and what she dislikes (i.e. that first trainer tried to put a curb bit on her for trail riding instead of our hackamore, because she didn't like that... Well Lucky didn't like the curb bit and made that very clear (head tossing, bucking, slight rearing...) We never tried to use that one again) ... She doesn't do any of that - not with our friend, nor with me when I ride with it. If anything she seems more easy going with it - still very motivated and forward going, but not so much running around like a fool and actually working actively - and very relaxed at the end of the ride. Apart from her usual "arguments" with new riders where she likes to question if they really know what they're doing (and she does that with every new rider for the first few months, but it is very easy to see whether what she does is "questioning" something or if she dislikes something).

Sorry for the loooooong text, I wouldn't know how to shorten that 🙈🙈

I'll try to add some pictures or videos later, although I haven't got any yet where we use the martingale. Will add those when I find someone to take a video of us with it - maybe this weekend.
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 07:31 AM Thread Starter
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Not the best pictures - and the grimace one is more funny than it helps judging anything, but I thought you guys maybe like it 😉
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 09:40 AM
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Martingales are usually used to “manage” a problem. They seldom, if ever, cure a problem. Martingales may also cause a horse to bring its nose behind the vertical in an effort to prevent jerks on its mouth when cantering. This behavior may also be observed if a rider’s hands do not follow the motion of the horse’s head while cantering.

I understand the “high head” you mention as the horse having her nose in the air – sometimes referred to as star gazing. This behavior is generally caused by excitement or pain. When a horse’s nose is in the air, its back is almost always hollowed and cannot move effectively in a canter. This results in tense, rapid movement. Riders often respond by holding on with their legs. This, in turn, may encourage the horse to run even more causing a rider to think that the horse “wants to run”.

I begin riding such a horse in a snaffle. While riding with as little muscular tension as possible, I try to encourage the horse to release all unnecessary tension in its muscles. I begin this work at a walk, moving to a trot only after the horse moves freely (without unnecessary tension) at a walk. It is often necessary to “whisper” for the trot to keep the horse from becoming overly tense once more. I will only began canter work after I regularly obtain smooth transitions to a free-flowing smooth trot.

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post #4 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 10:35 AM
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So...a couple things I ask about and noticed...
I think you are referring to a running martingale since you referenced a western training fork as similar...
Would look like this if placed on the ground..
...neck strap, strap between front legs attaching to girth and the "Y" the reins thread through.
The use of rein stops is strongly advised so you not catch the martingale rings on the bit or rein closure and get hung up and a disaster take place.

Now personally I don't like a running martingale but will use a standing martingale adjusted correctly that does not ever exert pressure to the horses mouth.
A standing martingale must be used with a regular caveson as it is slid on and buckled to it then a long strap between the front legs and attaches at the girth same as a running. It also has the neck strap to keep long straps from entangling legs in motion.
It never, ever interacts with a horses mouth, period.
It does limit the height to which a horse can extend their neck skyward.
Standing martingales caught a lot of flack because people did not use the equipment properly, but more as a head-check and very restrictive...not what this was ever intended to be.
When properly adjusted the horse has full range of motion, carrying the head and neck safely and correctly...it just when used properly keeps you from having a face of blood...but you are not engaging with the mouth, exerting forces tremendous against bar and soft tissue when working to regain control of a giraffe horse taking the bit and running...
So, a article about all the different types of martingales available, pros and cons of each...
https://todaysequine.net/martingale-horse/

Now...your pictures.
Cute horse to start with.
First picture who ever is riding is using a ill-fitted noseband, appears a drop noseband.
To low, it needs raised so 2 slim fingers width below the cheekbone at most.
The picture makes it look like it is sitting at a pinched angle at the bit and mouth corner.
I get the horse likes to move out when cold & crisp weather...but relax the arm and put a bend in the elbow so some forgiveness to the animal working, doing as you ask it.
I'm not positive but also think there is a strap "bubble" of improperly adjusted equipment at the cheek/jawbone.
All or any one of those things could make a horse not respond, be feeling less in control to the rider and also allow the horse to get strong and "take the bit" and go.
I absolutely can see the horse tossing their head and going...looking for the vise-grip to be released on their face..
Equipment adjusted properly is so important.
You can't go forward correcting a issue unless you first make sure all is fitting and no discomfort is happening to start with.

Your second picture...love the expression!!
So...you have quick clips on your reins and rein stops seen.
Where are you placing the martingale rings at?
If those rein stops are not slid forward can guarantee you will catch those quick clip rein snaps and a catastrophe is going to happen.
Again, please please make sure all is in place at proper locations and the right equipment is used when now adding specialized "training" extras.
It takes a few minutes extra to replace our shortcut with real reins with correct closures on them...
It takes only a second to get hung up and disaster strike...
Since most use a figure-8 as a drop noseband, mouth steadying and closing device...be very cognizant of the pressure, the force exerted now if your horse giraffes and the martingale engages.
A drop noseband snugged, running martingale which just by how it is made weights the reins and adds pressure to the mouth...hands not light as a feather sending communication to the horse...
Yup, I can see a giraffe and then a bolting one running trying to get away from the discomfort and pain they don't understand why they are being given..
Make sure teeth have no issues with that figure8 noseband either and that the bit is sized wide enough and also to fit the oral groove properly since all gets compressed easily with this and if to tight...the horse can not move their jaw to soften in your hand as you seek..

With your description and comments...
I side with your boyfriend that the friend exercising Lucky is not using that martingale properly.
To me, she sounds to be using it to force a headset, to stop evading the reins and pressure exerted...
Oh yes, Lucky absolutely can evade...not only giraffe but go up and over when things escalate...flip over.

The horse tucking their face behind the vertical...someone taught that or Lucky learned to do that to get a release of pressure on the mouth and face.
I don't know how to fix it without sitting on the horse as each horse is different...you need to find the trigger for that tuck to start...
Pain, pressure...something is a trigger factor. The something is what you need to find.
Mouth check, saddle fit correctly, no pinch, no slip but good fit, bridle and bit checked for rough edges, adjusted correctly, reins secured so training equipment not get hung up on them...rider calm and relaxed, arms limber and soft following the horses motion and forgiving...
The horse...being a horse sometimes they do need to burn off some energy.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is take the horse for a ground-pounding gallop and get it out of the system...but make sure you know how to stop a headstrong horse who loves to run... or gallop in a fenced riding ring...just let Lucky stretch the legs...
That is what I thought when reading your post...

I hope you find a solution...but a martingale yes, for the right reasons and with proper accompanying adjusted tack so all are safe working their partnership together.
A lot won't agree with the standing martingale comment I made, but fact is fact.
Look at it, look at how it attaches and tell me where the mouth pressure is..it isn't.
Running...by its design and being run through the reins...when you pull back & horse raises their head...look at what engages and tell me there is not excessive force put to a sensitive delicate mouth..
When left to long a adjustment as some articles describe,...what is the point when you have no help, none whatsoever to lower the head.
All information found and discovered needs careful consideration and evaluation...
Best of luck.
..
jmo...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
Martingales are usually used to “manage” a problem. They seldom, if ever, cure a problem. Martingales may also cause a horse to bring its nose behind the vertical in an effort to prevent jerks on its mouth when cantering. This behavior may also be observed if a rider’s hands do not follow the motion of the horse’s head while cantering.

I understand the “high head” you mention as the horse having her nose in the air – sometimes referred to as star gazing. This behavior is generally caused by excitement or pain. When a horse’s nose is in the air, its back is almost always hollowed and cannot move effectively in a canter. This results in tense, rapid movement. Riders often respond by holding on with their legs. This, in turn, may encourage the horse to run even more causing a rider to think that the horse “wants to run”.

I begin riding such a horse in a snaffle. While riding with as little muscular tension as possible, I try to encourage the horse to release all unnecessary tension in its muscles. I begin this work at a walk, moving to a trot only after the horse moves freely (without unnecessary tension) at a walk. It is often necessary to “whisper” for the trot to keep the horse from becoming overly tense once more. I will only began canter work after I regularly obtain smooth transitions to a free-flowing smooth trot.
Yes, the intention is to show her, what we want from her, with the martingle and then slowly take that away again ... Not sure whether that will work or not as I have never worked with this before.

Yep, star gazing describes it really good! And it's definitely too much energy and excitement (excited that she gets to "move" again (she's outside all day long and could run around as much as she likes with her friends, but she obviously prefers to really on the paddock and do the running with me/us *lol*). We have her regularly checked by the vet and ostheopath, as well her saddle is also checked at least 2x a year. But this is normal "winter" behavior for her, she's a totally different horse to ride in the warmer seasons.

Will post some links after answering your posts where we ride without the martingale.
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, it is a running martingale - sorry should've specified that 😉 - we are using rein stops and they are placed between the snaps and the martingale rings so they can't get caught on the snaps.

The noseband in the first picture is a Hanoverian noseband (or that's what it's called in German, I don't know if there is a different expression for it in English) and it's meant to be positioned this low. I don't like those much, but it was a try if it makes any difference. Normally we either use no noseband at all or we use the figure 8 noseband.

Physically Lucky is fine, she's checked regularly and so is her euipment. This is typical "winter behavior" for her and she's a totally different horse to ride during the warmer seasons.

Problem with letting her gallop off her excess energy: I'm pretty insecure at a canter and won't canter at all when she's in a running mood ... Let alone let her gallop... My friend can and does do that and Lucky loves it! They do a lot of canter work and with that even my own cantering has improved a bit - or in other words Lucky isn't THAT speedy anymore and I dare try it more often.

Hope I haven't forgotten to answer anything - if so, just ask 😉
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Last edited by LuckyLady; 01-10-2020 at 11:34 AM. Reason: Ok that went wrong ...
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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And now here are the promised videos (without the martingale), these are from beginning of December - we used that low noseband on that day as a test but it doesn't look any different if we ride with the figure 8 noseband or without any noseband at all:

Lucky playing "giraffe": that's what you get at least for the first 30-40 minutes of trotting:

https://youtu.be/TZujCwimxwU

Slightly better in this video, after those initial half hour or more:

https://youtu.be/SWN-l4hfDGk

I know, my seat is faaaar from perfect and in those videos I wasn't really posting on the correct hand half the time as we were just trying to do loooots of small turns to keep a nice pace without running.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 01:38 PM
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thank you for posting those videos. It shows a lot. For one thing, your seat is not that bad. Don't be hard on yourself. And, your mare is truly adorable. You two will become a lovely team, in time.


The main thing I see is that your hands and arms are too stiff, and pointing downward. You are pulling downward on the rein, trying to get her to lower her head. This is very, very common fault. It only encourages her to BRACE against that pull. You can see that she has been doing this for quite some time and it is evident by the enlarged muscle along the underside of her neck. If you continue this way, it will get worse and she will become quite U-necked.


Also, I see her making efforts to drop her head and respond to your rein, and when she does, what do you do? nothing. She gets no acknowledgement from you that she has done the right thing for you. You need to reward her when she makes a tiny try to lower her head. Give her the inside rein, like way forward, speak kindly to her, maybe reach forward with your inside rein and pat her neck. This requires enough balance on your part to have independent hands. I think you can do this. If not, you should take a few lunge line lessons where you ride without reins at all, so you cannot use them to aid your balance.


Think about more lateral flexion of her neck, rather than worrying about where she places it vertically. When you get her to soften laterally, she will naturally drop her head. And that's when you must reward with a forward give of the inside hand. You can even bring both hands forward.


There was a point in the first video where that mare offered to stretch down and forward. I would have given her BOTH reins and allowed her to stretch down and let her trot with her head where ever she wants. REWARD her with this and she will be more willing. Training should be elastic , both in your hands and in your movements. Meaning; trot a bit on the bit, then trot freely, walk a bit, no reina contact, trot, pick up contact, ask for bend, ask for a few steps of leg yeild out on onto the circle, drop inside rein, pick back up , straight line into free trotting, allow to stop . . . . and on and on. change, change change, Ask for more, give her freedom , back and forth.


Lastly, when you ARE asking her to take a contact with the bit, and she raises her head, do NOT put your hands downward. Instead, you must FOLLOW HER UP. That means you will have to actually raise your hands upward. You keep your thumbs pointing, like lasers, diretly at the bit rings of her bridle.



Why RAISE your hands? Because you are asking for something, and you want to keep the 'ask' in your hands exactly the same, no matter where her head is. you neither reward her when she raises her head with a looser rein (which would simply train her to keep doing that), nor do you punish her by pulling harder and more downward, (which teaches her to fight you). By keeping the angle and pressure exactly the same (which requires you to raise your hands when she raises her mouth), you 'stay with your asking', you do NOT change anything until SHE does, and then . . . REWARD HER!
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 01:40 PM
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I have posted this video many times. I think it shows nicely how the rider is very diplomatic with a horse that has a lifetime of going in a stiff and defensive manner


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post #10 of 19 Old 01-10-2020, 01:53 PM
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I'm not a "trainer" nor "instructor" but have been riding English for a very long time, so take my comments with a open mind...

I see you fighting the horse.
First video, approx. 1:43 in the horse is trying to lower their head, give to you and you won't allow it.
You ride with your hands near/in your crotch and what appears locked stiff...
There is no "follow" of the horses body motion with your hand or arm...just a rod of resistance.
Raise your hands, put a bend in your elbow and lengthen the reins...
Over emphasize hand height while you learn a new habit...
A full pinky length above the pommel of your saddle...

Now when Lucky walks your arms are a elastic cord, as her head strikes forward your hand follows, as the head moves back and upright the hand follows...over and over.
When you trot, the hands should become much more stationary, yours move constantly...sorry.
I see Lucky trying so hard to relax and drop into your hand and she gets hits in the mouth from the bit as your hands jostle around.
It is hard work to learn a independent hand and arm, but your horse needs that...
She needs and wants to come forward and down with her head/neck, to raise and round her spine...
I don't see her looking to run-away, I don't.
I see her trying to get a straight line from hand, traveling down the underside of your forearm to the bit...now watch that line every step and watch that horses head try to lower and she can't...she hits a wall of steel.

Your second video, Lucky is better yes...
Lucky is trying repeatedly to drop her head, and can't.
Pick up those hands out of your crotch... a few times as they raised a bit the horse responded and started to round and drop on the bit...
Then the hands dropped and head went back up to defense mode.
A exaggeration is keep them belly button height, but not by much is that to high either...
The big thing I kept seeing is stiff arm, to short a rein and to low a hand.
Here, some examples of hands...notice the height and where they are, now go look at yours.
Put them up and in front of the withers...

In the pictures below I want you to notice the bend in the arm, the align of elbow to hand, down the rein to the bit, nearly perfectly straight and this horse is getting ready to jump a fence so very animated and light in the front end as it weight shifts for take-off. The other shows a extended trot and speed of gait...but look at that alignment of elbow, under the forearm,wrist, rein and to the bit...again nearly wooden ruler straight.


Also notice all of these pictures the horses face is on the vertical, only a small bit of it is poked in front of the vertical with the exception of the last one he is in front of the vertical but he is not giraffed either..
All of them though show a rounded/level spine and forward motion.
That is my take on it...
I may be wrong, but I truly think if you raise your hands, steady your arms {your arms/hands must be independent of the horses movement} and give some rein Lucky is not going to run away with you, but will respond by stopping "giraffe-ing" in her only way to get away from the heavy and hard hands you are using on her.
Lucky strikes me she is very sensitive in the mouth...

It will take some time for her to learn to trust you...and if this is how your friend rides her...tell her to lighten up and get off her mouth.
Learn to whisper your wants in riding and she will return the favor and whisper her compliance..ride softly.
That is my opinion....apologize as I did not mean to dump on you...
You have a lot of raw potential that just needs finesse added to it and you got this.

There are many instructors, trainers and competitors here who will share their opinion...this is what my gut tells me the horse is asking of you..
You though must learn to trust Lucky and let go...give to her as she needs so she can give back to you that lowered head, what you want.
...
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