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German Martingales

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  • German Martingales

    Opinions? Have you ever/would you ever use one? How do they compare to draw reins?

    I rode a horse that uses one the other day, so I'm just curious as to what the wise interwebs have to say on the issue.

  • #2
    Personnaly don't like it. Got on a horse that had such thing and frankly, it didn't do much, neither good or bad.

    At least you can have control over the draw reins, if one wants to use them.

    And I would rather put a running martingale if I was in need of a martingale.

    But not for a dressage horse, and I believe that kind of martingale is more for the jumper ring.
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app


    • #3
      A friend of mine once put it as: a German martingale is for someone who doesn't know how to use draw reins...

      Just sayin'...
      If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
      Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


      • #4
        They can be useful, though maybe not for dressage. I have used them on uppity jumpers and on race horses. Both were situations when have an extra set of (draw) reins was a little too complicated for the circumstance.
        Shop online at


        • #5
          I would prefer using a martingale with a German ring set than using a running martingale or draw reins. You can pretty much get the same effect between this particular kind of martingale and a draw rein that is attached to the horse's side (attached to the girth, running through the bit and then back to the rider's hands). If the German martingale is adjusted correctly, it releases much faster and does not come into play are quickly as the draw reins might. I always use a German martingale on a horse that I am just starting as I feel it is safer for me to have that additional control if needed. When you use the martingale, it is akin to using sidereins when you lunge. The leverage is available, but you really want to teach the horse to perform without needing to use the leverage. As soon as I can be fairly sure of the horse, then I ditch the martingale. You cannot ride at a show (not even on the showgrounds) in one, and you cannot ride a test even in a running martingale. Best not to learn to rely on one beyond the green-breaking stage.

          The greatest risk in using either a martingale or draw reins is that the rider only succeeds in setting the horse's head. If you use the leverage to pull the head down, and do not understand about the release of the pressure coupled with using your seat to ride the horse's shoulders up, it will only result in a false frame that, over time, will become difficult to correct.


          • #6
            I've used the German martingale on three horses over time. Two of them were dangerous rearers. I had it adjusted so that it did nothing unless they tried to go up, then it would catch them and I could get them back down right away. I used it until I had them reliably in front of my leg, then got rid of it. Solved the problem, and kept me safe.

            The other was a large pony who had been pulled on a lot. Used it just for a few rides to show him what I wanted, then ditched it. I would never use draw reins, but the loosely adjusted German martingale catches them quickly and releases quickly. I've only used it for retraining, never for normal training.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the input. I don't really *like* draw reins or the German martingale, but who does? I had never used a German martingale before and I did think as I was riding that at least if I were using a draw rein, I could choose when to activate it. But alas, not my horse!

              Just to clarify--it should be adjusted so that under all normal riding circumstances, the regular rein is the active one, and the martingale rein loose? Because this was reversed and the direct rein was loose. I figure that was not correct.


              • #8
                Pretty much useless in the situations most people use them. Draw reins are far more useful IMO if you want that kind of thing. Even better, if you need something to help give the horse the right idea, is a chambon. They don't pull the horse on the forehand as much.

                But no, the German "rein" shouldn't be active all the time unless the horse is constantly inverted. In which case, the martingale isn't doing anything helpful anyway.


                • #9
                  I believe it is otherwise called a Market Harborough, invented in a town of that name in England. I always think, when I see the ads, that they mean German leather reins or made in Germany or something.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • #10
                    I used a GM on my first horse but haven't since. I was 8, and she regularly tried to kill me. I'm not sure why they were what the trainers I worked with had me put on, but they seemed to help - though eventually just sticking on the regular bucking sprees and a few years on her is what got her over it.

                    If I were using one on a dressage horse I would think maybe the horse wasn't at a stage to even be called a dressage horse due to fault foundation work needing fixing, though I could see a German martingale on a horse for trail riding, when you want to be able to react quickly and have equipment help you depending on how the horse misbehaves/how you react.
                    Originally posted by Silverbridge
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