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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
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    Default Standing or Running Martingale?

    Possibly a YMMV, depends on the horse kind of question, but looking at hunting tack and photos the running martingale seems to be the default type--is there a preference/reason to favor one over the other, or is it strictly a matter of what the horse in question needs? I'm assuming the reason hunting tack seems to be a combination breastplate/martingale is just a safety precaution, but if you add a martingale attachment does it matter which one?



  2. #2
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    Nov. 1, 2005
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    Bonsall, CA- with my horses finally home again!
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    Default

    I have no basis for this other than my gut instinct, but I've never felt comfortable jumping a horse in a standing martingale over anything but little hunter jumps in a ring. I'd never use it out XC or hunting. I want the extra leeway and control that a running martingale gives to me the rider if I need to slip the reins to give the horse more of his head. Again, nothing more than my own instinct. Perhaps someone else can weigh in with a more logical explanation.
    ~Living the life I imagined~



  3. #3
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    Jul. 21, 2006
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    South Carolina
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    Default

    I only know what I read - no practical experience hunting as yet - but I thought the reverse: that standing martingales were traditionally used, not running martingales.

    Not arguing with you, OP, just posting on your thread in hopes of learning something from your responses.



  4. #4
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    Oct. 1, 2005
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    Default

    Oh, standing versus running for hunting is a lively topic of discussion! Personally I prefer no martingale, if I must use one I prefer standing, and have never had a problem jumping (up to 4 feet) or swimming a horse therein. And indeed when I started hunting standing was the standard.

    Both standing and running have pros and cons and safety issues. As already noted, YMMV and I think it really boils down to the rider's personal preference, which is no doubt based on the rider's comfort with the level of control.

    The cardinal rule of foxhunting, 'tradition' be damned, is, you use on your horse that which you need to use in order to maintain control at all times. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Whatever tack you use should be scrupulously clean and well maintained for horse and rider safety and wellbeing.
    Last edited by Beverley; Dec. 9, 2009 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Add a thought



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2006
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    Albany NY
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    Default

    Like the second poster, I instinctively would want the horse to have as much room to stretch/twist/wrangle his way over a fence from a bad spot, or to tiwst and land in an unexpected spot/change direction/change our mind over a jump - I wouldn't want a standing martingale restricting him. My use for a standing has always been a head flipper - and if a horse is flipping his head up to evade the bit he doesn't really belong on the field. (probably has some bitting or mouth problems which need to be solved anyway, but I digress...) I haven't hunted in years, and I was using a running martingale anyway on my mare at the time I did hunt, probabaly because she came from the track, I can't remember the reason why we used that, but she was showing hunter pace, hunting and (remember those) outside course type hunter events which went through fields, woods and over streams and ditches - I look forward to someone making a declarative comment on this and the choices we make for martingales and what we should be considering.

    edited: Also, am I making this up? Was there some kind of concern about a horse hanging himself up with his legs entangled in a standing martingale or am I really whacko and that wouldn't happen. I wouldn't say it could never happen, and I am not sure a running martingale would be any less horrifying to tangle your legs up with, but would that be any less possible than tangling up in the reins, anyway, and maybe I'm going overboard with that one...
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    Default

    We always jumped our last horse in a standing martingale (OTTBs often like to go with their noses in the air) but the only way I could see a horse getting tangled in a standing martingale is if it was improperly fitted or he was double-jointed. I'm thinking of how we adjusted Benny's, but I can't imagine how he'd be able to get a leg up that high without it already having something REALLY wrong anatomically.....if it were the wrong size and/or adjusted too long if they went down completely I guess they could get a leg caught.

    I guess I ask mostly because I have no idea what a running martingale actually does! The only time I ever used one was on the Arabs I rode as a little kid, and I never knew why they were used, they just said put it on, so I did. The standing one, again, we always used for jumping to keep him from flipping his head (and having been slammed in the face by an Arab mare who was a head-tosser I appreciate this use.) That horse was NOT a field hunter, though, and it would have taken more than a martingale to get him out there--he'd have had had to be lunged to death and take a very heavy bit to keep him from charging in front of the field. (He never really got the memo about not racing any more.)



  7. #7

    Default

    I use running martingales but our master always uses standing ;-) I was always told that standings shouldn't be used jumping, and if they are fitted too short they do seem to restrict the head and neck, but we rarely jump out hunting so for horses who stick their noses in the air, standing martingales are useful.

    FWIW, if a horse runs with its head up, it may well be less happy with rein pressure than noseband pressure, which would make a standing martingale a good option.



  8. #8
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    Oct. 14, 2003
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    Florida
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    Default

    Re function of a running martingale--I use one on my mare sometimes because she sometimes evades the bit by getting above it. She doesn't fling her head or pose a danger to my nose, but she will brace her neck and stick her nose up and out. Plus, she will go up sometimes, so the running lets me control how much "give" she gets.



  9. #9
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    Camden, De
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Grasshopper View Post
    Re function of a running martingale--I use one on my mare sometimes because she sometimes evades the bit by getting above it. She doesn't fling her head or pose a danger to my nose, but she will brace her neck and stick her nose up and out. Plus, she will go up sometimes, so the running lets me control how much "give" she gets.
    Same reasoning here. I have a few really sensitive types that might pop up here and there and I need to let go of the pressure and I find that a correctly fitted standing just isn't as forgiving in those types of situations. I also prefer a running for it's ability to allow horses full use of their head and neck in all situations. There is a reason you don't see a lot of standing martigales in eventing and high level jumpers.



  10. #10
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    Mar. 17, 2008
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    Default

    I know hunters have traditionally used standing martingales and most of them jump big obstacles, but I am also baffled as to why not use a running martingale instead, for safety purposes. A standing martingale is not legal in eventing if I remember correctly, and I've never seen an eventer in one. I know my horse needs a running martingale for jumping while eventing and I also put it on him the only time we went hunting and in a competitive trail ride. It gave me the extra control so he couldn't evade the bit by sticking nose up in the air. He can get excited when galloping with a group but it seems that his regular french link plus running martingale are enough to keep him at the pace I want.
    ___________________________________________
    "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"



  11. #11

    Default

    Standing martingales are traditionally worn fox-hunting. The theory behind it is (supposedly) that a tired horse can lean into one and get support. now I have never seen that but that's what the old Masters have told me over the years.



  12. #12
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    Feb. 9, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by vbunny View Post
    Standing martingales are traditionally worn fox-hunting. The theory behind it is (supposedly) that a tired horse can lean into one and get support. now I have never seen that but that's what the old Masters have told me over the years.

    If a horse was so knackered that it couldn't carry its head without a strap holding the head on to the chest (isn't that what the neck is for?), then surely the rider should dismount and let the horse rest its too-heavy head on its rider's broad shoulders.

    What happens to the feet when they get tired? No straps there to tie them on to the body. Maybe that's what legs are for.

    Hat. Coat. Door.



  13. #13
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    Oct. 1, 2005
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    VBunny- I have yet to hear that one from a Master (but they all have different theories, and I've know a fair number of Masters who were decidedly um, average horsemen).

    As for the eventing rule- I dunno why they imposed it, offhand. But I'm looking at a picture of a horse jumping a 3'6" stone wall in a standing martingale, properly adjusted, and there is absolutely no question of freedom of movement for twisting, turning, pecking on landing, whatever. Don't think I have an electronic copy of this one but maybe for fun I'll see what I have at home later. When I hunted my tb in a standing- it was just the thing to keep the head not too high when he got into Secretariat mode at the walk or trot. But it didn't hinder him in any way when it counted, whether negotiating trappy terrain at high speed or jumping. I do think I recall correctly that he raced in a running martingale though.

    I think for me, part of the preference is just plain what I'm used to. The few times I've ridden a horse w/ a running martingale, I just didn't like the feel.



  14. #14
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    Default

    So... horse jumping big fence in Lucerne in a running martingale...

    http://s222.photobucket.com/albums/d...RobRidland.jpg

    Horse jumping three foot fence in a standing martingale...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1828302

    Typical hunting turnout, hunting breastplate w/standing martingale attachment...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1828264

    And a 'naked horse, no martingale...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1797536

    Just random examples...and I can't say I could look at them and say one is better than the other! But I think it shows that a standing martingale properly adjusted doesn't restrict a horse's bascule or impair balance in any way.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 25, 2007
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beverley View Post
    So... horse jumping big fence in Lucerne in a running martingale...

    http://s222.photobucket.com/albums/d...RobRidland.jpg

    Horse jumping three foot fence in a standing martingale...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1828302

    Typical hunting turnout, hunting breastplate w/standing martingale attachment...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1828264

    And a 'naked horse, no martingale...

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde...mageID=1797536

    Just random examples...and I can't say I could look at them and say one is better than the other! But I think it shows that a standing martingale properly adjusted doesn't restrict a horse's bascule or impair balance in any way.
    I never ever get on a horse without a standing martingale.

    I am not the rider I once was. I am now 81, but I have a photo of me jumping a horse about 64 years ago over a 4' triple bar 12' spread in a standing martingale.

    Obviously it did not bother him.

    The way you adjust one is you with your left hand hold his head up in the normal position it should be in. You use your right hand to chuck him under the throat right at the throat latch with the martingale strap over your hand. The martingale should just touch his throat at the junction of his jaws (really between his jaw bones). No shorter and no longer.

    With that adjustment he will not hit you in the nose if he decides to play a little and he can not stretch his head out ahead as when landing enough to be restricted.

    Also if he stumbles and stretches his head down and forward he will not be restricted.

    As his head is lowered, the martingale is effectively lengthened because it becomes a straight line between his girth and nose band. When he raises his head, as when shying, throwing his head or otherwise playing, the martingale is shorter because it has to wrap around his chest.

    The old rule, a straight line is the shortest distance.

    A running martingale to me is like riding with mittens.

    There is one serious thought to the difference. If you have to jump off and in a hurry lead your horse, like to help with a hound or to catch a horse or help someone mount that has fallen, the running martingale will not allow you to quickly throw the reins over the horses head. You must unbuckle.

    The ideal standing martingale will have a snap. Most of those that fasten to a breat plate do so with a snap.

    This is invaluable if you ever have to cross water or a bog that you believe to be a trap. Unsnap and the horse's head is totally free.

    I have never seen it, but I have heard of horses getting afoot in their martingale and drowning. Whether this is true or an old wives tale, I know not. But crossing that kind of stuff is where you might want to unsnap it.

    However, no matter what anyone tells you, a standing martingale properly adjusted will do what it is intended to do and will not interfere with a horse's jump.

    And if you are riding a horse that shies violently, head up, it will save your teeth and nose.

    CSSJr



  16. #16
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    May. 12, 2008
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cssutton View Post
    I never ever get on a horse without a standing martingale.
    This just made me chuckle a little because a girl once told my friend this when she was trying my friend's horse as a lease prospect. Her reasoning was safety. She got on and the mare promptly reared up. So much for being more safe with a standing martingale.

    I do not know if it was adjusted properly - I got there just after the incident and questioned the standing martingale and how everything went, after the lady left.

    I tend to think a running is better and nothing at all is the best, but I have very little experience with using any martingales of any sort.



  17. #17
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    ...If I'm physically and mentally capable of riding at 81, I will probably use whatever tack I damn well please. Because I'll just be happy I'm still riding.



  18. #18
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    Dec. 25, 2007
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    I am still riding.

    My good horse died but I am in the process of buying another.

    I just don't jump triple bars now days.

    I will jump in the field if I am on the right horse and the hounds are running.

    CSSJR



  19. #19
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    May. 28, 2006
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    Central Mississippi
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    Default

    Just out of curiosity, I pulled out a book called "A Field of Horses, the world of Marshall P. Hawkins." The book was published in 1988, but the photos in it go back quite a few years earlier. It features foxhunting, racing (over brush), and show jumping photos, all of them action shots taken in the field.

    It seems to be pretty evenly divided, on the Foxhunting pages, between running, standing and no martingales. Dick Bywaters is shown on a stunning gray in a running martingale; Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg riding with the Orange County Hunt with a correctly fitted standing martingale. Her mother clears a stone wall with the Piedmont Hunt without martingale. Earlier photos with the Piedmont (ca 1950) show mostly standing martingales. In a 1960 photo the indomitable Harriet Harper clears a stone coop sidesaddle without a martingale.

    In the steeplechase section there are no martingales.

    On the showjumping pages there are very, very few martingales - I counted two standing, and 5 running.



  20. #20
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    May. 12, 2008
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    When cssutton speaks, people listen.
    Indeed, a properly adjusted standing martingale does not inhibit a horse's way of going. If the horse behaves, in fact, it is hardly put into use at all. The danger lies in the improperly adjusted standing martingale. This has long been used by folks who are over-mounted, undertrained or otherwise afraid of their horse to tie the horse's head down so that the poor thing can hardly see where he going - which makes him very careful and "safe." Some schools of thought see the standing martingale as a schooling aid, to be discarded when the lesson is learned. These last couple of points are why the standing martingale is looked down upon by some.
    The running martingale is designed to insure a relatively consistent line of approach from the reins to the bit. That is, if the rider's hands tend to go up a bit over a fence, the running martingale will keep the horse from getting too violently slammed in the mouth from above - he may still get a jolt, but from an angle that is less punishing. Likewise, if the rider's tend not to stay together, an Irish martingale was often employed. The running martingale will also keep the reins from flopping about if the rider has trouble keeping adequate contact.
    The running martingale was at one time seen cheifly on horses "for hire" or on school horses - those who knew their business, but whose riders might lack a little tact. It is also used by those of us (ahem) who tend, after a few hours, to ride on the buckle, have a nip from the flask and enjoy the view to insure that the horse still thinks we are paying attention.
    Wadsworth or one of the other venerable old-timers states that the running martingale is dangerous in the field as branches and whatnot can grab the "arms" of the martingale and misdirect the horse - this has not been my experience.
    cssutton above makes excellent points, by the way, regarding unhooking running martingales when swimming and/or dismounting.



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