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Discussion Starter #1
I'm asking for opinions here. Yes, this thread is similar to the draw reins thread :p

My opinion:

Yes it is a training aid, and that being said, largely depends on who it is that is using it. But the problem I find is that the people who are more inclined to use them, are the ones who really shouldn't be.

I personally dislike using any sort of training aid except as a last resort. I will use side reins while lunging every once in a while to help build topline, and, coming originally from a hunter background, I used to think I should be strapping standing martingales on any horse. 5 or 6 years ago I came to the realization that if my riding was correct I shouldn't need one, and stopped riding in them all together in order to really improve my riding.

There is, however, one horse who I ride over the summer that almost everyone uses a standing martingale with. For the longest time I wouldn't use one with him, and on the flat there was (is) no difference in him while I'm riding with or without martingale.

When jumping however, he has the tendency to get excited and throw his head up attempting to avoid aids. Now for the longest time I didn't put much thought to it. He was perfectly controllable, just made things a little more difficult then otherwise. I wasn't too concerned however, because we are very solid on the flat and he listens very well to leg and seat aids.

Well, one day, I hopped on him to run a course after one of my friends had been jumping him with a running martingale. I was giving him back to her (I just wanted to try out the course cause it looked fun xD), so I wasn't going to bother taking the martingale off or anything. But when I jumped this course, there was a very noticible difference in the way he went. Because he couldn't throw his head in the air every time he saw a jump, I had a much easier time with him and getting him to relax (a little) and concentrate instead of simply getting all excited. After this, I started to use a martingale with him every time we were doing work 3' or up.

My problem with them, is that I find people grabbing them and putting them on any horse just "for safety", or because they can't control the horse otherwise. My opinion is that if you can't ride the horse without the training aids, you should not be riding them at all. Even worse, I see people jumping in standing martingales. I know this is common practice, I used to do it myself, but i now understand how dangerous it can be, and it really bothers me.

Sorry for the novel, but the question is, what do you guys think about running martingales. Do you think it's right for me to use one just to make things a little bit easier? The end result is always the same (almost always a very good one) whether I'm using the martingale or not, the martingale just makes it easier to get there.
 

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They are not a training aid. They are a Vice created by man, for man.

They are a Preventative Gadget, that's it - nothing more, nothing less.
Do you think it's right for me to use one just to make things a little bit easier? The end result is always the same (almost always a very good one) whether I'm using the martingale or not, the martingale just makes it easier to get there.

I am quite curious to know how you use a Running Martingale as a Training Tool? What is it that you are doing while you ride, that teaches the horse to not throw their head up?
 

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IMO, a running martingale is NOT a training aid, it is a "safety device" for horses that throw their heads wildly. It should only be used while the rider/trainer works with the horse on correcting the problem. Once the problem has been addressed and solved, the martingale should be removed.

Same with a standing martingale. The two have basically the same function, with different mechanics.

For western riders reading this, the running martingale is the same as a training fork and the standing martingale is the same as a tie down. Both are often used on jumping horses.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Maybe training aid was the wrong term to use. In my head I tend to lump all tack that aren't the very basics (saddle, bridle, breastplate, boots) as training aids, though I know that's not necessarily true.

I don't do anything while using it that teaches him not to throw his head up (that's my problem with martingales in the first place).

ETA: The head isn't necessarily a huge problem. Like I said in my original post, he is still under control and goes fine. He's never successful in his attempts to evade the bit, but he tries it nonetheless. That's why I'm not sure whether I feel I'm right to use the martingale. It just makes it easier for me the keep him under control (not barreling around on the forehand) so I can concentrate on other things like the mechanics of the course.
 

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Before even attempting a course, you should get him under control, 100% of the time. Go back and work on Dressage to get him balanced and listening on the flat, at all gaits. Then introduce small single jumps and gymnastics that include trot/canter poles, caveletties, and small jumps in a single line. Work on the basics until he's solid BEFORE moving on to courses or higher jumps.

You might be ready for course work, but it doesn't sound like your horse is.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Before even attempting a course, you should get him under control, 100% of the time. Go back and work on Dressage to get him balanced and listening on the flat, at all gaits. Then introduce small single jumps and gymnastics that include trot/canter poles, caveletties, and small jumps in a single line. Work on the basics until he's solid BEFORE moving on to courses or higher jumps.

You might be ready for course work, but it doesn't sound like your horse is.

Uhm, I'm not trying to be rude, but you've seem to have missed the, he IS under control part. He is great on the flat as a general rule (though he can be picky about his rider). I am never EVER in fear of losing control while riding, on the flat or jumping. I promise you he is perfectly ready for the level he's at. He just get's excited because he really enjoys what he does. Go watch Grand Prix jumpers, most of their horses go around with their heads up in the air. If the riders let them they would be slightly out of control. That's just the way it is.

This thread was not suposed to be about what I should or shouldn't be doing with this horse. It is about your take on running martingales, and about whether you think I should be using it in this situation. Just that, nothing else, no advice.

Thanks.
 

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If he's "barreling around on the forehand" as you stated, and you feel the need for either a gadget or to really "man-handle" the reins, then he's not under control.

You need to work on getting him balanced and driving from behind on the flat at all gaits and over small fences. The minute he starts "barreling around on the forehand", you need to STOP your course and school on the flat until he's not on the forehand, then school over a few small jumps or a gymnastic until he's not on the forehand over fences. Then continue with your course.

If he's on the forehand just at the beginning, then you need to lunge and school on the flat until he's working well for you, then start your course right.

You are the on who turned this thread into an advice thread by explaining your situation and "need" for a martingale. I am simply trying to tell you how I feel that a martingale is not necessary in your situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
If he's "barreling around on the forehand" as you stated, and you feel the need for either a gadget or to really "man-handle" the reins, then he's not under control.

You need to work on getting him balanced and driving from behind on the flat at all gaits and over small fences. The minute he starts "barreling around on the forehand", you need to STOP your course and school on the flat until he's not on the forehand, then school over a few small jumps or a gymnastic until he's not on the forehand over fences. Then continue with your course.

If he's on the forehand just at the beginning, then you need to lunge and school on the flat until he's working well for you, then start your course right.

You are the on who turned this thread into an advice thread by explaining your situation and "need" for a martingale. I am simply trying to tell you how I feel that a martingale is not necessary in your situation.

My "barreling around on the forehand comment" was me specifying that he is NOT doing that. What I said was "It just makes it easier for me the keep him under control (not barreling around on the forehand)". I was simply trying to elaborate on my definition of "under control" in this situation. I said numerous times that he IS under control, thus, not barreling around on the forehand. The running martingale makes it easier to keep him this way without all my focus being put into keeping him from crashing through jumps, which would probably end up happening if I let him be. Also, I feel the need to specify that he only gets this excited when it gets above 3 feet. He is not crazy or anything, if i let him have his way, he wouldn't be galloping madly, but he probably wouldn't make it over the jumps. Anything below 3 feet and he looks like a little hunter/jumper pony xD

This is not meant to be an argument, and I guess that was simply a confusing way to state things on my part and a misunderstanding on yours. Sorry, please forgive :]
 

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Gottcha! I understand now. Well, jumping over 3' is going to be "fun" for many horses. I did some with a TB gelding, just stadium to 4'. He didn't need a martingale, but I did have to step up his bit to a mullen Pelham with double reins (he used a loose ring french link for dressage and jumping to 2'6"). He didn't like martingales and would fuss with them, so I just went up a level in bit instead. Plus, I didn't like how the running restricted the reins. I like to be able to use an opening rein when needing, which I couldn't do very well with a running.
 

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if you cant do an opening rein then your running martingale is too tight, they should actually be pretty long & not have any affect unless the horses head is way up in the air. when they are holding their head at their normal level there should be slack in the martingale. thats why a running is way better than a standing, it provides much more freedom.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Lol. That's very true, it is quite fun. But yeah, you have a point about the rein restriction, it bothers me now and again as well. Bumping up the bit isn't really an option for him though because he is BEYOND picky. He is naturally quite the head tosser, and although he's gotten so much better than he used to be (with and intermediate/advanced riding it's virtually non-existent), if you put anything in his mouth other than a D-ring french link, the tossing ensues. So my options with him are either handle him without the martingale and risk forgetting the course (I have a hard time with it as it is xD) or using it and deal with the rein restrictions.

ETA: There's only a certain extent to which a martingale can be unnoticeable to a horse. You should be able to use an opening rein with it, but there will always be some interference. It depends on how sensitive the horse is.
 

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I use one on one of my mares once in a blue moon. When she is out of work for a bit, as she is now, she gets very excited when we go back to jumping. She is a naturally high headed horse and when we go over bigger stuff, she gets the Grand Prix Showjumper thing going on and flips her head up sometimes. However, this is pretty rare and as I said I only use it once in a blue moon. She is a VERY powerful jumper and many BNT's have looked at the way my martingale was adjusted and said it was correct. I take their word for it. I rarely take it out on XC and if I do, it's when we are schooling bigger jumps that she has never seen before (at heights she has never seen before). I haven't used it for quite some time now.

It is a useful tool when used in the right hands but it should not be used for headset as many people use it for. I leave mine long. Long enough that she has to put her head up REALLY high for it to be effective, which I think is the whole goal. If you would like to see how mine is adjusted, there are pics of it in my virtual barn under my horse Javah.

I will NEVER use a standing martingale on a horse. I had a horse a couple summers ago that I was taking care of for her owner while she was away. She said that I should always use a standing on her when jumping because "she puts her head up too high". I refused to jump her with it and she did just fine. I think it restricts the horse's head way too much and is more of a fad than a useful tool.

oh and just to add, I've never used a "real" running martingale. I've always used the attachment that goes on the breast plate. I think it's a lot more adjustable and I like the fact that I don't have to buy two separate pieces of equipment.
 

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I would use a running martingale as a safety measure , and only when showjumping , eventing or doing lots of fast work.

In my opinion they are like an airbag on a car - I would rather have one and not need it , than need one and not have it. Most of the time it would not be necessary , but on the odd occasion it has helped regain control of a wayward mount .

Many ( if not most ) of the top GP show-jumpers are ridden in running martingale - this does not mean that either they or their riders are incompetent - just that the type of activity that they are doing releases lots of adrenaline / serotonin into the bloodstream . With those two chemicals a normally placid animal can get a bit wayward - and if you are in a showjumping competition you need to regain control fast - you don't have either the time or space to ' faf around ' .
 

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I use a running martingale on my arab - Adjusted very loosely. I had never thought about the adrenalin side of it before - And now I do, I realise that it is only in high-adrenalin situations that he will sometimes flip his head - Jumping isn't the only high adrenalin activity out there! Even going for a good gallop out on the trail is high adrenalin. In a normal situation, it isn't needed. He is highly educated, and has sucessfully competed in a number of disciplines, but as I now think, it is just when the adrenalin pumps that he may flip his head. As Nutty said, I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it - So I have it on him everytime anyone else rides him.

I also agree that a martingale is not a training aid - It doesn't teach anything or aid in teaching anything when used properly.

I will also use a standing martingale on him for the same purpose - Adjusted just as loosely as the martingale. It has never caused an issue - He understands pressure very well. I use it for mounted games because it doesn't interfere with my reins at all - And in MG your reins can get in some hoghly unorthodox positions, as well as having to come over the head and back in a split second.
 

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Im starting to use one on my mare because when going into canter she flicks her head up and then bucks,i don't want to use one but i don't fancy her bashing me in the face!! I know its not me because she does it with other people.
 

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I'm a little confused. I use a martingale whilst jumping at my riding school, but its just used to stop the reins from going over his head. What type of martingale is that? Should I not be using it???
 

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I'm a little confused. I use a martingale whilst jumping at my riding school, but its just used to stop the reins from going over his head. What type of martingale is that? Should I not be using it???

From another post here I can tell you that it is called an Irish Martingale. The only purpose is to keep the reins from flipping over the head and they are fine to use. A running martingale has two straps with rings attached to the end and the other end attached to the breastplate or girth. The reins run through the rings and help drw the horses head down when pressure is applied.
 

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Oh OK! I was worried there for a second! Thanks for clarifying, kevinshorses! :)
 
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