using martingales

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using martingales

Post by fin on Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:47 pm

Does anyone have any ideas/opinions on using martingales with bitless bridles? My interest is academic as I've never found the need for martingales even before I went bitless, but was wondering if there was any place for them when using a bitless bridle.
Would they help people with the more lively type of horse? Would they apply unacceptable pressure? Would they be too restrictive for the horse or would they assist anyone making the transition from bitted to bitless?

I'm interested to hear your views.
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Re: using martingales

Post by lightertouch on Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:17 am

My view is that they are the head and neck equivalent of a flash or similar noseband. They are designed to stop the horse's head going up beyond a certain point (determined by the fit). Particularly harmful when jumping, they just try to mask a training problem. If a horse is raising its head too high, there's a reason and we need to look at why, and make changes.

They may help as a temporary measure to control a lively horse, but you're basically tying the horse's head to its girth, with slack up to a point. They do apply unacceptable pressure if the horse needs to raise its head above a certain point. Showjumpers in particular need to get their heads up when approaching a jump, in order to get their weight back over their haunches (collecting) in order to be able to spring off the ground. Standing martingales are particularly restricting.

That's my penny's 'orth, hope it helps!

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Re: using martingales

Post by fin on Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:27 pm

Thanks for getting the debate going. I met someone out hacking who was interested in the concept of bitless, but used a running martingale, and she asked if it was ok to use a martingale with a bitless bridle. I was tempted to give a flat 'no' as I've never liked to use a martingale, but then realized I'd never thought about it in conjunction with a bitless bridle so thought I'd get a few other opinions.
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Re: using martingales

Post by FlorayG on Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:24 pm

This could get quite deep...
a martingale is a sign of poor training or poor riding - a plaster instead of a cure. If a person wants to go bitless, their horse will go just as well or just as badly as it does in a bit, the only difference being the rider's hands can cause less pain in most bitless than in most bits.
So I would ask a person who wanted to use a martingale why they use it and how they think they could retrain their horse not to need it. The problem with a martingale on a bitless bridle is that a running martingale only works when the reins are tight and I don't think any bitless bridle works well with tight reins (I don't mean short reins that's DIFFERENT)
If they really need a martingale ( and of course they probably don't because the horse is throwing his head due to pain in his mouth) then I would say a standing martingale on a SEPERATE NOSEBAND would be best. I am old fashioned and much prefer the standing martingale if it is properly adjusted, which of course they never are these days. The purpose of the martingale is to act to prevent the horse getting his head above the horizontal, NOT to hold it down. Everyone has them too short and that is why the standing martingale has a reputation for being dangerous.
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