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  1. #1
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    Default Standing martingale, yes or no?

    Hi, I am in my mid-50s and just learning to ride, really ride, after years of just trail riding. I have a 20 yr old gelding who is willing but really unschooled beyond just trail riding.
    I have been taking weekly lessons and working on our mutual balance, connections. We also are doing trot poles and tiny x-rails and I really cannot even hold a 2-pt for a second.
    I know I am fat (about 50 pounds) and not able to really control my body, much less him. He tends to resist by lifting his head but not flinging it around. Someone suggested a standing martingale when we jump, not to hold his head down but to keep him from raising it so high.
    Is that a bad shortcut? I feel like it might be. But maybe I am just unfamiliar with it as a tool.
    Also, would I be better off riding a lot or riding less and putting those hours in the gym/exercise? (or both LOL)



  2. #2
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    Horses hollow because of pain on their bars/rider dropping hands/inconsistent contact/etc, and because of tension/needing to reuse their necks in order to bascule. A standing martigale treats the symptoms but not the cause(s). I vote for better balance and learning better technique.
    I.D.E.A. yoda


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  3. #3
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    Having crossed over from hunterland back in the day, I can tell you that standing martingales were used on most, if not all, horses in the over fences classes at the many shows I attended. There was a consensus that a horse looked "naked" without one. Depending on how you adjust the fit, a standing martingale can have little or no effect. Most hunters left their's fairly loose, which really didn't interfer with the horse a whole lot other than to keep the horse from putting its head in the clouds.

    That being said, a running martingale, in my opinion, is safer and can largely accomplish the same thing (assuming you're not looking for the standing martingale to be super-tight, which you said you weren't). I don't think using a martingale is a short-cut, but rather a training aid to help with some horses.


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  4. #4
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    Default

    More saddle time and exercise routine so you can better control your body.

    jumping or neck strap to help you learn to hold a 2point. You may be using the reins to balance which may be causing him to raise his head. Talk to your instructor before adding equipment.

    Stick to rails or cross rails until your balance improves.

    Have fun and enjoy.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


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  5. #5
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    If you intend to event, besides what has already been posted by yourself and others, realize that standing martingales are ILLEGAL TACK in eventing. They are insanely dangerous on cross country, regardless of level. Some times your horse NEEDS to have its head in the clouds to balance, especially if it trips or pecks on a landing. A standing can cause such instances to become rotational flips. And yes, I know from experience.


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  6. #6
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    I know others would disagree, but if you can't hold a two point, you shouldn't be jumping. To answer your question at the end: both! But I think MOST of us could stand more time in the saddle and more time out of the saddle, working on our overall health and fitness.

    As for the standing, well, I have used them A LOT of baby horses who tend to fling themselves about at various stages in their development. They really do absolutely nothing when adjusted properly, but are nose savers when you really need them!

    All that being said, I don't know if a standing is an appropriate answer for you (though, it would have the added benefit of giving you a neck strap!). It doesn't sound like he's violent or quick with his head, he just resists by raising his head and hollowing his back. A standing won't really fix that, or prevent him from hollowing his back. So, my answer is, it won't hurt (Especially if adjusted properly), but it isn't going to solve the problem. It may help YOU, if you learn to wrap a pinky finger or two through it to help you stay balanced, in which case, you probably won't see as much resistance.

    Does that help, at all?


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  7. #7
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    Yes, you do need to do strength work on yourself. You do need to be able to hold a two point, and have a steady leg, before you jump.
    But don't deny yourself horse time, keep riding and spending time with your horse while you learn to increase the core strength you'll need for a secure leg.

    A horse 'resists' for only a few reasons:
    It hurts
    It doesn't understand what is being asked (or learned how to do something wrong, like a person learning to lift heavy things wrong)
    It is afraid of what is being asked
    or, a combination of the above.

    I'm not denying that a horse is resistant, only saying that the horse won't resist doing as asked because he's somehow sour or a curmudgeon by personality (rather than past poor training or experience).

    In my own experience, there are very, very few 'trainers' who understand how to get a horse truly soft, happy and using its body correctly.

    A horse 'going soft and correct' in a martingale (running or standing) is not a horse that truly understands what is being asked, and knows how to use himself. There are plenty of trainers that will use a martingale 'as a tool' on 'a certain type of horse' and sort of mostly get by with winning performances and horses that aren't too terribly bothered. But that isn't my litmus test- I know it CAN be done with no gimmicks, though I might need a good deal of help before it happens.

    You mention that your horse is willing. That, in itself, is precious to me in my own horses. Right now, it sounds like your horse is protecting himself where he needs to (by being 'resistant') yet tolerating your mistakes. (And where would we all be without friends, family, dogs and horses that were willing to tolerate our humanity?) Sounds like a great horse.

    You need timing, physical strength and balance to ride well. Your horse will appreciate if you aren't overweight, but you don't have to be 125 pounds to ride beautifully- the horse will appreciate the timing and balance a lot more than just the weight: this is an extraordinary horsewoman, who will be (or has, I don't remember which) presenting at the Legacy of Legends tribute to Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance in Las Vegas:
    http://www.leesmithdiamonds.com/

    I think it is of the utmost importance to preserve your horse's try and good humor...and yours, too. There ARE those 'elite' (of understanding) few horsemen (and women) hidden here and there, dressage trainers or cutting horse trainers or foxhunters or working ranch folks, who can give you lessons whose emphasis is on learning while preserving both mental and physical well being. They aren't easy to find, because they typically don't place an emphasis on being well known, on winning 'the big one' in their discipline, and typically don't have a big ego. It's pretty hard to find someone who is motivated to excellence and has pride in a job well done, that doesn't have the ego to go with it, but they're out there.

    I'm sure ideayoda has a clue where to find such people to take lessons from. I can send you info if you care to pm me.


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  8. #8
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    A horse 'going soft and correct' in a martingale (running or standing) is not a horse that truly understands what is being asked, and knows how to use himself. There are plenty of trainers that will use a martingale 'as a tool' on 'a certain type of horse' and sort of mostly get by with winning performances and horses that aren't too terribly bothered. But that isn't my litmus test- I know it CAN be done with no gimmicks, though I might need a good deal of help before it happens.
    Hmmm....I don't really think this is fair. If a martingale, of either variety, is adjusted correctly, they have absolutely no bearing on how the horse goes. They simply prevent the horse from breaking a nose if s**t hits the fan. One works by applying pressure to the nose (and why I prefer it to a running on very green horses), one works on the mouth. You can ride a horse correctly in either, and have it never, ever engage. There is nothing "gimmicky" about either, and most old school trainers will tell you a running is an essential piece of equipment, never to be left off the horse.

    They don't force a head set or frame (if used correctly). They are, most of the time, meaningless pieces of leather that do nothing.

    I used a standing on my friend's young horse over the summer. His first reaction to, well, life, is to chuck his head up. Scary thing? Break yb's nose! Feeling good about the day? Give yb a black eye! First canter depart of the day? YB has a bloody nose! The standing prevented me from a few concussions and plastic surgeons, I'm sure. And, with a little time and correct riding, it became a completely meaningless piece of tack, just swinging away, doing nothing. He went softly, quietly, and connected. The standing did nothing other than keep me from having to wear a hockey mask in the early days of his summer camp/etiquette school.

    If I'd tried to accomplish the same thing with say, draw reins (which I think have their use in life, as well), THEN I would say I was cheating. But, I applied the correct aids and training methods to him, and used a standing to shorten his trajectory with his big head. Not a gimmick. A tool.


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  9. #9
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    I'm not a big fan of standing martingales. I have only used one on an OTTB who was part Giraffe because I didn't need my nose rearranged. She needed a reminder that flipping her head into my lap wasn't appreciated.

    I ride in a running martingale when I jump or foxhunt (for the reasons explained above, a standing is dangerous) but for you I'd probably start with a neck strap and see if that helps fix the problem.

    You can ride with one on the flat as well as jumping -- hook a few fingers through it and it helps stabilize your position without pulling back on the reins. It's a very good way to help you stay out of your horse's way while you build up your core strength.

    I always foxhunt with a neckstrap and use one on my green horse for every ride. You can "make" a neckstrap by using an old stirrup leather so it's not like you need to go out and buy anything.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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  10. #10
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    No on standing martingale.


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  11. #11
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    If you can't hold a two point for even a second as you put it, you shouldn't be jumping or even doing trot poles, unless you are just posting over the trot poles.

    Forget the standing martingale question. Begin by working on your two point, starting at the walk. Hold it as long as you can at the walk, even if it's just for a few steps. Work up until you can stay in a two point for one long side down the ring at the walk. Then try two point for a couple steps in trot. If you can't hold it for any amount at the trot, go back to building two point endurance in the walk. If you can hold it for a few steps, then post, then hold it for a few steps again at the trot, eventually working up (over a period of a few weeks or a few months even) to being able to hold the two point at least twice around the ring. Then you can start working in tiny x rails, making sure to get up in two point well before the jump, grabbing mane or a neck strap over the jump, and practicing maintaining your two point after the jump to make sure you don't snatch him in the mouth. Eventually the goal is to allow his body to push yours into two point over the fence and come back with your upper body immediately after, but you need to start with building strength first without punishing him for your mistakes.


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  12. #12
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    I don't really think this is fair. If a martingale, of either variety, is adjusted correctly, they have absolutely no bearing on how the horse goes. They simply prevent the horse from breaking a nose if s**t hits the fan.
    Then the martingale wouldn't be there, if there was no problem. That's my whole point.


    The problem IS that when the s**t hits the fan, you can't control the horse (or he flings his head in your face, or you can't stop him, or the horse flings his head so both reins end up on one side of his neck, etc).
    My opinion is that you need to address, and teach, the horse well enough that the horse doesn't lose his mind and become uncontrollable in an emergency, to teach a horse that he doesn't need to panic and that he can mentally stay with you. Not many people know how to do this, or know that it can be done.
    So, it follows that there are people who use martingales (and other equipment) properly adjusted (so as not to interfere with normal and correct movement) so that they can mechanically or with leverage, get a horse's attention "When the s**t hits the fan". I'm not going to call that horse abuse, I'm going to call that people doing the best they know how not to get themselves hurt. I really don't have a problem with this, I just think that people would have no need for martingales if they knew how to solve the problem.

    Now, it IS a horse, and you can't ever train a horse not to panic or try to protect itself if it thinks it is in terrible danger. But it is possible to have that horse not lose its ability to think, its ability to connect with you, when it is terribly and suddenly frightened.
    And a previously screwed up horse might have old memories that you will never erase, that involve pain and fear and perhaps rearing and/or throwing its head up in your face. You might want to have a standing martingale on a horse like that, if you aren't riding outside or through water where that martingale could cause the horse to drown or otherwise fall and not be able to catch himself. But you'd still teach the horse that he could stay with you mentally 'in a panic'.


    There are also horses wearing closely adjusted martingales (like a tie down on a rope horse) that engages the martingale all the time, in my opinion this is also a crutch and a sad way of getting a horse to perform using his body poorly-a poor excuse for training and usually a good way to have an unsound (subtly or not so subtly) horse if he's ridden like that much.



  13. #13
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    You might want to visit the hunter/jumper forum, speak of martingales (standing or running), come up a lot.

    I always say less is more unless you have a head flinger and as another said run the risk of a bloody/broken nose.


    He is likely just trying to support you since you may be off balance and he doesn't have the strength to run on his toes for the both of you.

    Plus, he is likely rescueing you. If you tip forward and he decided to go peanut pusher on you, you would lose the wither support and take a 'pony tumble' as I call it.
    (Darn ponies and their absent withers...it will be the death of me).


    Tip- Work on your balance first.... a friend recommended standing in your stirrups for 2 beats and one down, repeat and gradually increase to help balance and core.


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  14. #14
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    You didn't list this as an option but I think you should invest in a series of longe lessons on a sturdy, steady horse with a trainer who has experience doing that kind of lesson. You will tie your reins in a knot and work on your position in various gaits, building up to dropping your stirrups and doing the same. When you graduate from that the teacher can have you trot over poles-- posting, then in 2-point-- with your arms out to the sides. Once you have control over your body your horse will give you much more with his.
    Shut up! You look fine! --Judybigredpony
    Ms. Brazil


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillabeana View Post
    Then the martingale wouldn't be there, if there was no problem. That's my whole point.


    The problem IS that when the s**t hits the fan, you can't control the horse (or he flings his head in your face, or you can't stop him, or the horse flings his head so both reins end up on one side of his neck, etc).
    My opinion is that you need to address, and teach, the horse well enough that the horse doesn't lose his mind and become uncontrollable in an emergency, to teach a horse that he doesn't need to panic and that he can mentally stay with you. Not many people know how to do this, or know that it can be done.
    So, it follows that there are people who use martingales (and other equipment) properly adjusted (so as not to interfere with normal and correct movement) so that they can mechanically or with leverage, get a horse's attention "When the s**t hits the fan". I'm not going to call that horse abuse, I'm going to call that people doing the best they know how not to get themselves hurt. I really don't have a problem with this, I just think that people would have no need for martingales if they knew how to solve the problem.

    Now, it IS a horse, and you can't ever train a horse not to panic or try to protect itself if it thinks it is in terrible danger. But it is possible to have that horse not lose its ability to think, its ability to connect with you, when it is terribly and suddenly frightened.
    And a previously screwed up horse might have old memories that you will never erase, that involve pain and fear and perhaps rearing and/or throwing its head up in your face. You might want to have a standing martingale on a horse like that, if you aren't riding outside or through water where that martingale could cause the horse to drown or otherwise fall and not be able to catch himself. But you'd still teach the horse that he could stay with you mentally 'in a panic'.


    There are also horses wearing closely adjusted martingales (like a tie down on a rope horse) that engages the martingale all the time, in my opinion this is also a crutch and a sad way of getting a horse to perform using his body poorly-a poor excuse for training and usually a good way to have an unsound (subtly or not so subtly) horse if he's ridden like that much.
    The bolded I agree with completely. That's why I stress a properly fitting martingale.

    But for the rest...in the examples I have given, I am referring to very green horses. They don't know yet, how not to react to various stimulus (I won't use panic, because they can do silly things for all sorts of reasons, not just panic). A bump on the nose may or may not teach them anything (though, if they've been well handled on the ground where a bump with the lead can redirect their attention back to the handler, you could easily argue that a bump from a standing could easily redirect them back to their rider).

    But then, again, you are stating my point for me. In the example of the young horse I rode (one of many I've ridden and used a standing on for similar reasons), I used the standing while teaching him how to respond properly to me and life's various stimulus. As he got more experienced and going better under saddle, the martingale became less and less necessary, to the point where it was moot. BUT, while getting to that point, I was saved from bumps to the nose a few times. I was masking a problem, or skirting an issue. I was just protecting myself by limiting his upward range of motion.

    I do believe runnings are very useful on more schooled horses who get their blood up on xc or while jumping, as they can help the rider keep the horse focused and, with some horses, give a bit more power to the rider without going to a harsher bit.

    Kudos to you if you can ride every horse, from baby days to well schooled, upstanding citizen, but there are an awful lot of extremely talented and gifted horsemen and women out there who use martingales and find them to be extremely useful pieces of equipment.

    I mean, do you really think this man doesn't know how to problem solve without the use of a martingale?


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Kudos to you if you can ride every horse, from baby days to well schooled, upstanding citizen, but there are an awful lot of extremely talented and gifted horsemen and women out there who use martingales and find them to be extremely useful pieces of equipment.

    I mean, do you really think this man doesn't know how to problem solve without the use of a martingale?
    I couldn't agree more! As ideal as it would be to ride every horse without a martingale, not every horse is as easy to train or capable of handling itself in a composed manner in a tough situation. Case-in-point: I rarely ever used a standing martingale on my speed demon OTTB, but there were certain situations where I knew I would need one...i.e. rehabbing him under saddle after weeks of stall rest. As much as he "wanted" to behave, sometimes his excitement just got the best of him. Thank goodness for that standing martingale saving me from a concussion or at least a killer headache.



  17. #17
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    I know an old guy -- in his 70s -- who always rides with a standing martingale, except in competition. He uses it so he can grab the strap to help with his balance.

    His name is Mike Plumb.

    JMP is a demon about balance. He might have the best balance I've ever seen on a horse (it's a toss up between him and John Whitaker) but it's rarely good enough for him.

    I asked him why he likes a standing better than a breastplate or neckstrap and he said 'This is what I've always used.'

    I use one on my fat bucking pony because (1) I aspire to ride like Mike and (2) one of his evasions is a head-flipping thing when I ask for the canter. He is afraid that he'll get yanked in the mouth (as he did inevitably with the kids who used to ride him), so he pops up to avoid it. I don't want to touch his mouth, so I let him hit the martingale instead. It seems to be working. He rarely head-flips now and instead favors rolling his back and bucking, which is fine with me so long as he goes forward into canter. My pony is a lot of fun, I swear.

    A standing is a perfectly fine balance tool if used as a grab strap for the rider. Balance is just about everything in riding; there's no reason not to be doing everything we can to improve our balance.

    Last edited by JER; Dec. 18, 2012 at 02:36 AM.


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  18. #18
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    I'll skip the other stuff, but short answer: No. They are illegal for competition anyway, and can be very dangerous in training (witnessed a nasty crash because horse couldn't get his head up fast enough to balance when he slipped on some wet grass till he broke it, but by then it was too late and he fell on rider) so if you use one, use a running martingale.


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  19. #19
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    I agree with the other posters who have said if you don't have the strength to hold yourself in 2-point for even a very short period of time, you do not have the correct foundation to be jumping yet.

    As far as a standing martingale, I've only ever felt I "needed" one when I was bringing my pony back from an injury and he was incredibly hot. One day he flipped his head and smashed me in the face. Feeling my front teeth crumble was unpleasant, as were the dentist bills that followed. He wore a martingale as a safety net for my face for a couple weeks following that incident. It does not sound as though your horse is at risk of bashing you in the face, so I do not think you need one. You may, however, benefit from slipping a martingale yoke around his neck to use as a grab strap while you gain your strength and balance.
    "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


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  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the input. It confirmed what I was thinking, that the problem is one to be corrected by improving me, not monkeying with him.
    I am going to put a neck strap on him for support as I practice 2-point.


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