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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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!)
 

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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.
 

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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?
 

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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.
 

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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!
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
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.)
 

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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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If this trainer insists on gag bits and martingales, I would be more concerned with finding a new trainer...

If your horse's back is injured to the point that the saddle placed in the proper spot is bothering her, then she needs time off until the area is healed completely. Moving the saddle too far forward can cause other issues in the long run.

Ditch the gag, martingale, and the trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If this trainer insists on gag bits and martingales, I would be more concerned with finding a new trainer...

If your horse's back is injured to the point that the saddle placed in the proper spot is bothering her, then she needs time off until the area is healed completely. Moving the saddle too far forward can cause other issues in the long run.

Ditch the gag, martingale, and the trainer.
All of the horses there are or were polo horses. That might explain the combination of gag and standing martingale.

Its not injured. She's just being weird. Also, when I say far forward I do not mean in the wrong spot, just that if it falls back even a little she would start twitching as if it was irritating her.

To clarify: The running martingale isn't because she NEEDS one. The running martingale is because a standing martingale and breastplate apparently don't work together. Well, OBVIOUSLY don't work together. And this trainer is a firm believer in martingales, even though I don't see the use.

I'm sorry, but ditching my trainer is a little extreme. First of all, she's a wonderful trainer. Despite leaving me to learn my own horse facts (this is why I'm here) she is better than anyone in this area that isn't overpriced and doesn't just say "Get on the horse and ride, get off the horse and leave." Also, these are her horses. If I ditched her, I would have to go to a completely new barn (the closest one being an hour away, one way) and wouldn't even have a chance to ride this horse I have fallen in love with.

Can someone please explain to me how someone could think a gag and standing martingale (or just martingale in general) combination is safer in ANY way shape or form (rider or horse?) I want to know so I can validate her point or yours.
 

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To clarify: The running martingale isn't because she NEEDS one. The running martingale is because a standing martingale and breastplate apparently don't work together. Well, OBVIOUSLY don't work together. And this trainer is a firm believer in martingales, even though I don't see the use.
OT, but you can get a standing martingale attachment for your breastplate, just like you can for a running martingale.
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Can someone please explain to me how someone could think a gag and standing martingale (or just martingale in general) combination is safer in ANY way shape or form (rider or horse?) I want to know so I can validate her point or yours.
That's our point, it's not. It's not a good combination anywhere, and the only place it's "accepted" is on the polo field. Polo horses can be retrained to use a snaffle and a martingale, or just a snaffle without any martingale.

The "safety" concern is for horses that toss their head dangerously high, to the point of losing control of the horse or possibly injuring the rider. If a horse does not exhibit this kind of behavior, then there is no need for a martingale.

Your trainer doesn't seem to know much about physics and the mechanics of bits and martingales. Have you tried asking her why it's more safe in her opinion?
 

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Find a new trainer. If they're into polo they're not much of an english trainer. Strapping your horse up tight with as many gadgets as possible is not going to do anyone any good. Breastplate is fine it will keep the saddle from sliding back, but why the martingale??

If you're horse is still worried about it's back being touched by the saddle, give it time off until it's back heals and get a chiropractor out to give it the all clear before you ride. Riding on a sore back will simply aggravate the problem.

It's dead easy to jam a horse's head down in a gag. If you're working on 'collection' (I'm pressuming by collection you are inferring simple engagement and softness as this horse does not sound ready for true collection, as neither do you), put the horse in a snaffle, find a good dressage trainer and learn how to ride them hind legs up to the bridle.
 

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The running martingale isn't because she NEEDS one. The running martingale is because a standing martingale and breastplate apparently don't work together. Well, OBVIOUSLY don't work together.

I'm curious about this statement. As far as I am aware, a standing martingale and breastplate are absolutely fine together and are fairly common in the hunting field and occassionaly seen in the hunter show ring. Some folks actuall prefer the breastplate/martingale combination because it's more securely fixed in place than the martingale alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Agh! I just realized somethings that are important.

1. She's not big on polo, but the official "owners" (the ones who own the barn) used to use a bunch of them for polo.

2. We wear our martingales loooooose. I looked up pictures online and saw these really taut martingales- this is not us at all. We wear them loose enough that the horse is (sort of) unable to run through our hands (I THINK this is what you call it) and keeps their head down to an extent, but not so much that they can't move it or jump with it.

3. The collection I am referring to is getting the horse to actively use her rear instead of dragging it along, which thanks to the work I have done she no longer does.

4. There's a lot of stuff I know but don't know terms for, sorry.

I just rode this Saturday and the horse was running like crazy so much that it was putting in danger all of the horses and people in the ring. We quickly put a very skilled rider on her with the same results, it was not just me. They gave her some ACE and she slowed down enough that it wasn't as much of a danger but it still took a hell of a lot of effort to keep her at a reasonable pace.
During jumping, the trainer took me aside and said the following. "You have a big choice. You can keep this running martingale and have to exhaust yourself controlling her while she will take jumps really well because she feels a lot freer, or go back to a standing martingale where she will be more under your control but she will go back to her silliness over the jumps." (She likes to round out, stop, and take jumps huge because she's a greeny.) I chose to keep the running martingale because I'd rather get her over the jumps and put up a fight than not get over jumps but not have to do much.

EDIT: I also saw how a breastplate and a standing martingale can work together. I get it!
 

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Agh! I just realized somethings that are important.

1. She's not big on polo, but the official "owners" (the ones who own the barn) used to use a bunch of them for polo.

2. We wear our martingales loooooose. I looked up pictures online and saw these really taut martingales- this is not us at all. We wear them loose enough that the horse is (sort of) unable to run through our hands (I THINK this is what you call it) and keeps their head down to an extent, but not so much that they can't move it or jump with it.

3. The collection I am referring to is getting the horse to actively use her rear instead of dragging it along, which thanks to the work I have done she no longer does.

4. There's a lot of stuff I know but don't know terms for, sorry.

I just rode this Saturday and the horse was running like crazy so much that it was putting in danger all of the horses and people in the ring. We quickly put a very skilled rider on her with the same results, it was not just me. They gave her some ACE and she slowed down enough that it wasn't as much of a danger but it still took a hell of a lot of effort to keep her at a reasonable pace.
During jumping, the trainer took me aside and said the following. "You have a big choice. You can keep this running martingale and have to exhaust yourself controlling her while she will take jumps really well because she feels a lot freer, or go back to a standing martingale where she will be more under your control but she will go back to her silliness over the jumps." (She likes to round out, stop, and take jumps huge because she's a greeny.) I chose to keep the running martingale because I'd rather get her over the jumps and put up a fight than not get over jumps but not have to do much.

EDIT: I also saw how a breastplate and a standing martingale can work together. I get it!
I am very very confused...
1) the running martingale should never ever be used to influence headset - if it is, it is too tight. The rings should reach up to the top of the wither.
2) the standing martingale should never ever be used for control. The purpose of the standing martingale is to prevent the horse from tossing its head too high... but it should never effect how the horse is controlled, or effect its headset.
My thought is that both martingales are being used incorrectly.

More to the point, by using a martingale in this instance, you are not addressing the problem at its root, you are using a band-aid method of "control."

I am concerned about this stable; from what you describe, they are misusing bits (in my opinion, gags should only be left to professionals, and even then I'm not a huge fan), misusing martingales, and the fact that they would ACE a horse to continue a lesson? Red flags popping up all over the place.

You said the mare has a back problem? I would be concerned that she is in pain, and trying to escape from that.
 
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