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  1. #1
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    Default Tack use question: Running Martingale

    So I am a jumper but have only ever used a standing attachment on my horses breastplate. We have really only shown in 3' and under, and attempted a 3'6 local division, but I have been told that at higher heights and those involving money classes that they are forbidden.

    My trainer does not want me to use one as she said they are not good for people who are handsy. I am handsy with my horse, but I have been working on it and am much better, only bad days are when he leans on me. At the last show, my horses head was high, I know he raises his head to look down at the fence for his distances and I don't want to inhibit it, however there are times he does it to avoid the bit.

    So my question is, why would one use a running martingale? Why would being handsy be an issue with using one? While I have attachments for one, I am scared to use it and accidently hurt his mouth.

    TIA!
    Forrest Gump, 15, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 27, TB

    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook



  2. #2
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    Because the running martingale works by directing the pressure of the bit down on the lower jaw and only if the rider puts pressure on the reins.

    If you are handsy, and we all can be when nervous, you activate it when it's notneeded and teach horse to ignore it. It is NOT a head setting gimmick for high headed horses.

    When in doubt? Don't. Especially when trainer says no. IIRC, you recently started back with this horse? The answer is flatwork, flatwork, flatwork and a million low fences treated as flatwork. When that's your base, you can add a little help for refinement and polishing your performance like a running martingale. Right now it won't help and you don't need it.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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  3. #3
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    Thanks findeight! We are back from a injury and cleared for all work, it was our first show back and I'm fairly certain someone (said horse) was very excited to be back in the game again.

    I don't plan on using it and when people ask I tell them no since I am also not sure how to use it correctly. Definitely have no plans to go behind my trainers back and use it, I was just curious to its uses and want to understand to be better educated! My horses mouth is very soft and the last thing I want to do is mess it up! He is great on the flat and low fences. He actually goes around like a hunter horse at anything 2'6 and under, but once the fences are raised his head will pop up. I know recently its due to keeping my hands planted down at the saddle so I break the line from hand to his mouth so working on fixing that.

    I don't mind his head raised to see the distances, I just don't want him to do it to avoid the bit .
    Forrest Gump, 15, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 27, TB

    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook



  4. #4
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    I have always been told it's a good idea to have one in the jumpers for a horse that can snap their head up--for safety reasons. If you are worried about being too handsy or using it when not needed--you can set it looser (so it is set however far you want it above the withers), that way it will only be "used" when your horse puts his head up to a point that could be distracting. When it's set there, it would be very difficult for you to accidentally "activate" it I would think, unless you ride with your hands REALLY high.

    With that said, if your trainer doesn't think you should have it then there might be another reason.
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis



  5. #5
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    I don't see how a "handsy" rider has much effect on a properly-adjusted running martingale. A too-short running martingale causes all sorts of problems by inhibiting the freedom of his neck; the rings should be long enough to reach up past the horse's throatlatch (standing with head at normal height) or up to the horse's withers. The horse should not know it's there unless his head (mouth) comes Very high, where it would seriously inhibit the rider's control.

    A running is most useful on horses who suddenly invert and/or flip their heads in the rider's face. It is *not* used to get the horse's head down, merely to set an upper limit for control. The rider can somewhat lessen its effect by lowering the hands and lengthening the reins. But keeping short reins will not necessarily increase its effect; only if the horse raises its head to a dangerous level.

    Many horses wear running martingales in upper level jumpers and on cross-country. On the steep landing sides of big fences (or Big drops), the horse will have to elevate its head to keep its balance...it must have enough slack in the running martingale to allow this freedom. But you'll also notice by slipping the reins and keeping hands low down a drop, the rider gives the horse more freedom in the martingale as well.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~


    4 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    I agree w/ the above.

    Quote Originally Posted by EventerAJ View Post
    I don't see how a "handsy" rider has much effect on a properly-adjusted running martingale. The horse should not know it's there unless his head (mouth) comes Very high, where it would seriously inhibit the rider's control..
    ^This is what I was trying to say.
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis



  7. #7
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    I grew up only riding with running martingales (Pony Club, low level eventing and dressage). None of the horses we used had head flinging issues, but it was used as a safety device. If anything ever happened that would cause the horse to throw it's head -- a bad fence, a slip, etc. -- that martingale kept us kids from getting our faces smashed.

    I'm from the camp of "if it's properly adjusted it only kicks in when you need it". I can honestly say I've never heard the bit about being handsy before.



  8. #8
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    While they're de rigueur in the high jumpers now, I know a few Grand Prix riders who don't like them—Molly Ashe-Cawley thinks they break the straight line from the bit to the rider's hands.


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  9. #9
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    It doesn't sound like you need one for safety reasons so that's good but you ask why people use them.

    In the years I have been riding I felt I have only needed it on one particular horse. He is a BIG and older guy. He was "pre (to me) trained" Dressage and had a very hard mouth. How that happened I had no idea but he can get really strong and forward. I used a Pelham in the Eq and Hunters but when I dabbled in the jumpers I was so happy I could put a running on him. For me, it was about leverage and asking for the horse to come back as needed. He was not a head flingger or anything like that, he simply was A LOT stronger than I.... and he couldn't run through my hands when I would ask for half halt.
    How people treat you is their KARMA.... how you REACT is yours!



  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone!

    Forrest is a big boy, 17 hands and a build like a WB, he's and OTTB. It use to take a lot to "whoa" him, but with his injury and slowly getting back into shape we were able to cover a lot of what appeared to be "missed steps" in his training and I must say that at the show while his head was high, the second I asked for him to come back with my seat he immediately did. The head was only an issue about 2-3 strides before the fence and once he zerod in on it.

    Maybe a video will show you better? I am attaching the first class we did. I will say that we did shorten his standing martingale a bit more after that, and it got a bit better, but you can still see his head. In every corner I was able to get him back.


    Hopefully it doesn't look as scary to you as it felt...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53pKF...zI22Bw&index=4
    Forrest Gump, 15, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 27, TB

    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Ridge View Post
    While they're de rigueur in the high jumpers now, I know a few Grand Prix riders who don't like them—Molly Ashe-Cawley thinks they break the straight line from the bit to the rider's hands.
    It should only do that when the horse throws his head above the bit and then it's purpose is to keep pressure on the bars and tongue instead of the lips only. Otherwise it's too short.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post

    Hopefully it doesn't look as scary to you as it felt...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53pKF...zI22Bw&index=4
    It looks like he's throwing his head up to evade the bit, not just for distance judging. Other than that observation, I've got nothing. Teeth? Bit change? Something you're doing? Don't know.


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  13. #13
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    The video is definitely helpful! I'm by no means a trainer, but he certainly looks like one who may benefit from a running martingale since he appears to be evading by snapping his head up--and also since you can't really use the standing at bigger heights and he probably needs something. It might give you that extra "arm" you need so you don't have to use so much force to get him back (maybe even make it so you don't have to be as "handsy" like your trainer said?). Again, I don't know him or you very well, but that's just my rail-bird opinion.
    Last edited by jlphilli; Mar. 26, 2013 at 01:45 PM. Reason: typo
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
    Thanks everyone!

    Forrest is a big boy, 17 hands and a build like a WB, he's and OTTB. It use to take a lot to "whoa" him, but with his injury and slowly getting back into shape we were able to cover a lot of what appeared to be "missed steps" in his training and I must say that at the show while his head was high, the second I asked for him to come back with my seat he immediately did. The head was only an issue about 2-3 strides before the fence and once he zerod in on it.

    Maybe a video will show you better? I am attaching the first class we did. I will say that we did shorten his standing martingale a bit more after that, and it got a bit better, but you can still see his head. In every corner I was able to get him back.


    Hopefully it doesn't look as scary to you as it felt...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53pKF...zI22Bw&index=4
    If it felt scary - not to be mean but you need more time schooling and getting comfortable.

    I don't know if this was after the lay-up but let me just share my personal horse experience of the fact when horses come off lay up's they need a lot of bring back work before they can not act like a nut job.

    I think you could shorten your standing a bit but if it were me, I would ride this horse in a running... that neck up IMHO could benefit from the leverage of a running attachment... HOWEVER

    You should have a sit down with your trainer because if your horse is acting like this and you are scared, then she/he isn't doing their job as your trainer.

    The trainer needs to work this horse and use the running and get him behaving for you. You also need to spend some time on more solid horses to get your mojo going.... Just sayin...
    How people treat you is their KARMA.... how you REACT is yours!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Thanks guys...I guess I should clarify I didn't feel scared so much as dumb and embarrassed if that makes sense. I felt like that kid everyone talks about being completely out of control and wondering what on earth they are doing on a horse...

    Ironically enough at home he was schooling like a hunter, I couldn't get him to move up to fences he just plodded along and NEVER raised his head, it was at the show he came "back." Even the other day in my lesson, he was perfect, no head raising etc. As the show progressed it got better, I know I was holding him more than I normally do out of fear he would break again. Of course now I don't have that fear, I think it was just the first time back I was really really nervous. And knowing him, that nervousness didn't help him.

    We definitely shortened the martingale and it was better. He was a video the next day at the same height...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8W2D...I22Bw&index=11

    But I think you guys are right and its time I sit down with my trainer and talk about the other options. I have schooled him in one before, several years ago before my trainer and never really had a negative reaction to it... I guess I just want to better my education on its purpose and effects to better be prepared to talk to my trainer.
    Forrest Gump, 15, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 27, TB

    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
    Thanks guys...I guess I should clarify I didn't feel scared so much as dumb if that makes sense.
    Trust me, that totally makes sense to me! It happens to all of us
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis



  17. #17
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    Hi, Looks like he could benefit from a running. Based on the video, I would suggest you shorten the rein and lighten the seat just a bit so you aren't getting such a radical change in your hand position; which pisses off most horses. Visualize a light canter with your hands on either side of the neck. Then when you land you can take back gently. Good luck!



  18. #18
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    I will give you a go here. What I see is a big powerful horse. I see a horse that needs more schooling on the flat to accept the bit and your cues. Dressage training would be great for this boy IMO. You get handsy yes, but I believe you get handsy because he is not listening to your subtle cue of hey slow down. So in all you are fighting each other and he is a big horse that's much more powerful than you and he will win the fight. You counteract this with leg and seat and less hand. This is where dressage would come in handy. Learning a half halt also. I don't think he is looking for a distance on these jumps he is just fighting you. He's a big boy with a big stride and it might would help if you can let him stretch a little more in the course. Not run like the dickens but let him pick up the pace a bit instead of holding back so much. It's a nice course overall and not to many questions where he needs to come back that much. Your hands need to come up and out of your lap a bit also. Martingales should be used on a horse that flips it's head up so you don't get smashed in the face over the jump. This horse is just fighting your cues to come back to you and needs more flatting. He's a cute boy.

    Oh and in the first video in the beginning where he really fought you in the corner he was cross cantering and was probably very unbalanced feeling and you were pull on him which caused a bigger fight than the rest of the video.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
    Thanks guys...I guess I should clarify I didn't feel scared so much as dumb and embarrassed if that makes sense. I felt like that kid everyone talks about being completely out of control and wondering what on earth they are doing on a horse...

    Ironically enough at home he was schooling like a hunter, I couldn't get him to move up to fences he just plodded along and NEVER raised his head, it was at the show he came "back." Even the other day in my lesson, he was perfect, no head raising etc. As the show progressed it got better, I know I was holding him more than I normally do out of fear he would break again. Of course now I don't have that fear, I think it was just the first time back I was really really nervous. And knowing him, that nervousness didn't help him.

    We definitely shortened the martingale and it was better. He was a video the next day at the same height...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8W2D...I22Bw&index=11

    But I think you guys are right and its time I sit down with my trainer and talk about the other options. I have schooled him in one before, several years ago before my trainer and never really had a negative reaction to it... I guess I just want to better my education on its purpose and effects to better be prepared to talk to my trainer.
    First, I have to say he is really a cute guy... we cannot ignore that fact And yes, much quieter but I see what you are talking about but at least he is listening to you.

    I would suggest you shorten your reins and have a longer arm. That would help a lot for control. I tend to over shorten because of my current trainer saying to everyone "shorten your reins"

    Here is a video clip of my debute in what I call speed bump jumpers. I am not much of a jumper rider but it was super fun. But you can see my reins are short and my hands are halfway up the crest of my horses neck and my arm was long. This gives you a lot more control.

    This is on my smaller horse but he was being a TOTAL butt head that day. A new place and schooling well at home -so I totally understand how that works

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v...type=3&theater

    BUT make sure to discuss it with your trainer - I am simply an ammy on COTH Also can your trainer school your horse at the show for you if need be? That is really helpful also.....

    Edited to add that reading others posts I think this horse will be a very good teacher for you. He is definitely doing something anticipating? hands, martingale etc... so you will have to be very very conscious and aware of your hands and what they are doing... he will teach you to have fabulous hands
    Last edited by doublesstable; Mar. 26, 2013 at 02:11 PM.
    How people treat you is their KARMA.... how you REACT is yours!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Ok, here's my free advice.

    From the video, your horse has a big confidence issue, and the standing martingale isn't helping.
    It looks like he feels as if he can't extend his head and neck, he keeps throwing his head up until he feels and fights the standing martingale for a second. Once he knows how much he can move his head, he can jump (except when he feels he can't, he keeps fighting the martingale and refuses.

    This is why he gets worse at the higher jumps. He's afraid of not being able to use his head and neck and getting "caught" by the standing martingale. So he has to put pressure on it so it won't hit him. Think of a dog on a leash - they'd rather pull and keep pressure on the collar then be suddenly jerked up short by it.

    When he does go over a jump, he does so with his head high and rigid. He doesn't extend his head out and down on landing at all. Not that there's a big need for it at this height - but it's noticeable that he doesn't do it even a little.

    This is borne out by the second video. I'm sure it felt MUCH better to you when you shortened the martingale.
    ~But if you watch, you'll see that about 3 strides out, every single jump, he has to raise his head and "test" where the martingale is. Once he knows how much play he has, then he can jump.

    He is not one whit calmer - he just doesn't have to move his head as far to see at what point the standing martingale will tag him.

    What I would do is take off the standing martingale completely. He doesn't like it, it makes him nervous. What will happen is there will be LOTS of head flinging for a while - he won't believe it's not there and will keep "looking" for it.
    But he needs his confidence built, so when I took it off, I'd spend a month at least doing flat work and very low jumps treated like flatwork (as another poster said) with the goal of getting him to extend his neck out and down, relax, and use his neck freely. I would do this work probably with a german martingale and VERY light hands. Keep giving, and keep him relaxed and forward.
    He WILL try to have a tug of war at first. It's what he's afraid of, so he'd rather be in control of it then have it surprise him. Just give and move him forward. You can't have a tug of war by yourself.

    I think if you did that you'd be surprised at the change in him after some re-schooling. But again, it's free advice


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