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any luck with a german martingale

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  • any luck with a german martingale

    Hi All,

    Please refrain from posting a response if you feel the need to be rude or judgmental. I am here for advice based on others experiences not to be slammed for being a bad owner/rider!

    Here goes:

    Has anyone ever used a german martingale to fix a head tossing habit during upward transitions?

    Some background: My sensitive mare has a habit of tossing her head and traveling inverted during and immediately after upward transitions. I am completely aware of the fact that this problem stems from my lack of connection and ineffective contact, but I am working very closely with a new trainer to fix the issue. The head tossing scares the bejesus out of me and often is the cause for our lessons to go downhill!

    Her teeth were just done, we have played around with bits and seem to have found a bit she is happier with (double jointed loose ring happy mouth), saddle custom fitted and we are working closely with a vet/chiro to circumvent any back issues…

    Secondly, the vet/ chiro is concerned that her head tossing/traveling inverted will throw out her poll (sp?) and most importantly, will work against us in our attempt to build muscle in her back.

    OK, all that being said, after a particularly bad lesson on Tuesday, last night my trainer pulled out a German martingale. We put it on her and it did what it was supposed to do. After one or two W/T transitions my mare realized that she could not toss her head and was quiet for the rest of the lesson. Literally, ears up cheerfully trotting along with her nose on the vertical (the martingale was loose enough that it only came into play if she tossed her head).

    Has anyone had any luck with a german martingale? I have never been a fan of them, but it did work. The plan is to ride her for a few weeks in the martingale and then see how we do without it. I strongly objected to the use of the martingale prior to the lesson but my trainer convinced me to try it. Her goal (trainer) is to help me build confidence and fix my position so that I do not need the “training wheels”, then remove the martingale, and hopefully move on.

    Does this sound logical? Has anyone had a similar experience? Thanks!

  • #2
    Yes it is logical. I HATE using gadgets, gimmicks etc, but some do have a place if used tactfully, carefully, and on a limited basis. We used a german martingale on my older mare for my daughter when my daughter was 8-9 and physically could not keep the mare from poking her nose out and running off with her. As you said, it was adjusted loose enough that it only came into play when the mare wanted to be naughty. I think it is a much better option than using draw reins.

    Your mare may be smart enough that after a few weeks of bonking herself in the mouth on transitions, she will figure it out and you won't need it anymore. Just be careful to not become dependent on it, and make sure it is always loose enough that you are the one controlling hte contact, not hte martingale.

    good luck. we all aren't going to grand prix on world class horses and while classical training without gimmicks is an ideal goal, reality is some of us just need a little help occasionally.
    arabsrock

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    • #3
      You're right. It doesn't come into play unless she tosses her head up. While you are learning to keep your hands and seat quieter, she is learning - on her own - not to toss her head up in response. As long as it is loose enough so that it is not in constant contact, it is a very good training aid.
      Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
      Now apparently completely invisible!

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      • #4
        I have used a German martingale for a similar problem, and I like really the German martingale because, as you said, you can set it loose enough that it doesn't have to come into play unless your horse head goes beyond where you've set it. That being said, this is usually a tool I use earlier on in training but IMHO if it's useful for you, use it. If she's going happily in the martingale than I personally see no problem. You have holes (as you said) and so does the horse...we all do...I have LOTS :-) In my opinion, tools like this can help both of you learn to fill in those holes while you catch up with each others strengths/weaknesses.

        Something else I do is lunge with side reins and do a lot of trot-canter-trot-canter transitions. This will help the horse to learn to balance in transitions and wont allow her to flap her head about. Also maybe consider having your trainer lunge you on your horse during a lesson. This could help both you work through this problem. Working on your connection with the seat and your confidence (which can greatly affect your ability to react to this issue...which leads to the snowball effect). Also, it can help teach your horse how to help you through this :-)

        You seem very concerned / proactive about your horse's health and clearly have their best interests in mind. I think you'll be fine :-) but that's just MY opinion.... Hope that helps :-)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by arabiansrock View Post
          Yes it is logical. I HATE using gadgets, gimmicks etc, but some do have a place if used tactfully, carefully, and on a limited basis. We used a german martingale on my older mare for my daughter when my daughter was 8-9 and physically could not keep the mare from poking her nose out and running off with her. As you said, it was adjusted loose enough that it only came into play when the mare wanted to be naughty. I think it is a much better option than using draw reins.

          Your mare may be smart enough that after a few weeks of bonking herself in the mouth on transitions, she will figure it out and you won't need it anymore. Just be careful to not become dependent on it, and make sure it is always loose enough that you are the one controlling hte contact, not hte martingale.

          good luck. we all aren't going to grand prix on world class horses and while classical training without gimmicks is an ideal goal, reality is some of us just need a little help occasionally.
          arabsrock
          What she said. We've used it (or draws, held loosely) to shut down a similar evasion. The one advantage of draws over the martingale is that you can release completely if necessary, although this shouldn't be an issue with a loosely adjusted martingale. FWIW, we tried a running, and it was totally useless with my horse.

          If you want to work through the issue on the lunge, a set of running/triangle side reins is a useful tool as well...
          "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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          • #6
            if it's working and the horse's attitude is good go for it. sometimes they need the communication of a gadget to get a point across. i personally only resort to a gadget if i have exhausted all other options. you are aware of your connection issue, and as weird as it may sound, the german martingale may also be aleviating some stress your hands are causing by offering a more consistent contact.
            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
            chaque pas est fait ensemble

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            • #7
              I think this is exactly the scenario where a gadget can help - as a "training wheels" where the horse has developed a habit based on past experience that the rider is not able to compensate for. Sort of like grazing reins (overchecks) on ponies, who would otherwise pull their riders out of the saddle every five minutes.

              As always the glitch is not going on for ages in a gadget, because then you never learn to fix what the problem was. The first mare I started re-riding on as an adult came with a "neck stretcher" that was always on for lessons. I bought her eventually, and one day said to my trainer, I'd like to ride her normally, without the stretcher. Well, thus I discovered how bad my hands were as she waved her head around at the trot, trying to compensate for my awful contact.

              In this case I think you will probably find you can practice your transitions, feel how they should feel, gain some confidence, and then go back to no martingale.

              Does the horse do the same thing if your trainer rides? Over time ask your trainer to teach you exactly how to respond to the head tossing or prevent it, by showing you what she does to set up the transition.

              In a magical world most of us don't live in you would have Spanish Riding School lunge lessons for years to fix the underlying balance and seat problems. I didn't have a chance for that either (see above). So we do what we have to do to figure things out.

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