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Tack use question: Running Martingale

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  • Original Poster

    Originally posted by Riverotter View Post
    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

    Thank you for the advice Riverotter!! It is definitely something to think on and try. I have gone martingaless a couple times and have done some lower stuff, actually just the other day, and his first fence he did as you explained but the more we did the fence the less his head came up. I will definitely have to try it!!
    Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
    Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
    Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
    Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


    • #22
      Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
      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.
      It's always good to educate yourself about different tack and the appropriate use of it.

      It's also good to familiarize yourself with the actual rules as they pertain to your situation. In this case, if you're talking about USEF shows, or shows that follow USEF rules, standing martingales are allowed in all classes (except classes for young horses) where the prize money is less than $5,000. From the rule book, available online at www.USEF.org :

      JP111 Tack and Attire
      1. Martingales.
      a. Classes offering less than $1000—No martingale restrictions when used in a conventional manner.
      b. Classes offering $1000 to $4999—The only martingales permitted are stand- ing or running martingales used in the conventional manner.
      c. Classes offering $5000 or more (and all classes restricted to young horses)— The only martingales permitted are running martingales used in the conven- tional manner.


      • #23
        OK watched both vids and he is cute and is being very good to you but....as usual, don't take this personally and you asked.

        I know you love your trainer and all that but IMO you have some things to overcome and work thru before you think about martingales and getting out of the real low, related distance courses.

        Hes pretty resistant to the bridle and you won't let him go to a decent distance. That's a vicious circle as the more you choke him down the harder he fights and the higher his head gets ending up buried at the base or long and weak with no release over most of these fences. Plus you are sitting up too early ( perhaps nervous he will speed up) and way counter bent on most of your corners. You need to let go more and reward or he will quit trying. Right now around the corners, you aren't really giving him anyplace to go and be cant get straight unless he can come forward, same thing to a lot of the jumps.

        Thats OK, we all have been there or worse during our journey with horses. But you got some stuff that needs to be fixed and perhaps a few lessons with another trainer-preferably with a solid flatwork or Dressage focus- might be helpful. So would having another, stronger rider take him around a a few shows to build his confidence and smooth out his response to the aids. Heck, I might take him in some Hunter classes just to teach him and you to start working more as a team and master the basics of track and pace.

        If he is good at home but not so much at the shows? Figure out what you do at home you don't do at shows or vice versa. Usually it's nerves...some great Dressage rider claims she forgets 30% of what she knows when stepping into the show ring and 50% at the Olympics. It happens to all.

        He looks like a nice one worth working this out with.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #24
          I'm glad that you found it helpful.

          Happy riding!


          • #25
            While I'm not a trainer either, I will give my best guess opinion. I had a large OTTB many years ago that was very powerful and would do somewhat of the same thing. We had to completely rewind and go back to flatwork. We also had to do bit changes. He was evading the bit because it was too much for him. We were over bitting and did not realize it at the time. We started working with a dressage trainer. Not a hunter or jumper trainer that knew dressage, but an actual dressage trainer (she knew our goals were jumping). With an extremely mild bit, lots of basic flatwork and me learning how to ride almost 100% of my seat and using minimal hands we were able to get back to jumping.

            I definitely see what you mean by handsy. Don't fret, we have all been there and no matter how experienced, we have all had our fair shows of rough classes. It happens. Are you possibly sending him mixed signals? pulling back on reins and hanging tight on mouth yet giving him cues to go forward with your seat? Based on the video yes a running martingale could help, but I would start with bitting and dressage work first.

            Also, don't forget those shows are tough. If he is like many of our OTTBs that have gone to those shows, they are used to living outside alot more and are now stuck in a stall for 3-4 days. Not to mention all kinds of other distractions. Take your time and relax. It will all work out!


            • Original Poster

              Thank you ALL SOOO much!

              As it turns out we are heading into the CT world this year with our first intro test this weekend. I actually have a lesson with a well known trainer who is an eventer and show successfully in both events and jumpers. So I am hoping she can help me, and yes my other trainer does know about her come. It is this Friday! Yay!

              I will say that when I school at home, I basically have an "I don't care" attitude and don't hold him or anticipate him, and he reacts the same. I was SUPER nervous at the show being the first one back from an injury and constantly thinking he would break himself again. I was definitely hold more than I normally would at the show, scared to let him go and something happen. But I felt I released more and more in each class. I definitely don't hold like that at home.

              The last two weeks we have been working on bending and rhythm, two main points in our dressage test, and I have noticed a difference and I have been working on raising my hands some to create the line from hands to mouth. It was also brought to my attention that I lean to the left which somehow causes my left hand to always be lower than my right, so that's something I'm working on as well.

              I DID however try Riverotters suggestion and go martingaless. I attempted a 2'3 fence and he was perfect, no head raise and just like a hunter. I moved him up to a 2'9 fence, usually after 2'6 his head raises more and more, and same reaction to the 2'3 fence. So today I have a jumping lesson and I am planning to go without and see what happens. Worth a shot!

              Thanks again everyone! I have learned a lot and hopeful that this new trainer will be the key to connecting steps and getting us back on track!
              Last edited by cswoodlandfairy; Mar. 27, 2013, 11:42 AM. Reason: change in words
              Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
              Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
              Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
              Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


              • #27
                It sounds like you've got it worked out, which is good. Something else to keep in mind for the future, there are many manifestations of problems with teeth. Head tossing, opening the mouth, avoiding contact, stiffness at the poll, a lot of things come back to teeth (and a LOT of horses have dental issues) so it's always a good thing to check if you start noticing a problem. Doesn't look like it's the case here, but something to think about. He's a cutie BTW!


                • #28
                  I don't know if this will help but watched your video and I have an OTTB with a similar attitude as yours. He seems to be evading the bit. Perhaps a flash or figure 8 would help more then a martingale. Good luck, he is super cute!


                  • #29
                    My first reaction when I saw the video was take it ALL off. No martingale, go waaaaaay down to a super gentle bit, and stay with a cavesson noseband. I couldn't see what bit you were riding in, but it was pretty apparent to me that he was not pleased with it or the lack of forward.

                    Give him somewhere to go. You're sitting on his back and holding his face... he's got nowhere to go but crooked and behind your leg. Get up outta yer tack and MOVE! Go somewhere! I think that alone and less bit would solve so much of what you've said has been problematic.

                    ETA: I do REALLY like the horse. He is definitely worth putting the work into and getting "broke."
                    Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                    • #30
                      I agree with what Ginger Jumper said. I have one that can get strong, quick, and high headed (usually after the lines) but it is because I am holding him and he is behind the leg. I work with a great trainer that took me back to the basics of cantering poles and caveletti working back up to cantering 2'6" course again. I get in my two point with hands above or at where the martingale strap is and go forward. The jumps are just there when I do that and he lands quietly and I balance in the corners by sitting up, and using a half halt with leg and an outside squeeze of my fist. Then off we go foward again to the next line. My horse is much more trusting when I ride like this and I am now jumping him around in a KK french link loose ring. We also work a lot on the flat establishing the half halts. When he blows me off, we do a downward transition to the next gait.


                      • Original Poster

                        Forrest is in a Happy Mouth Shapped Mullen Mouth Loose Ring Snaffle and honestly has been his favorite bit. When I started him, 3 years ago, we had a super thick plan egg-butt snaffle.

                        I definitely know I was holding him too much in the show, it makes me cringe because while watching the video I start moving in me seat to urge us to go forward. I'm REALLY hoping a lot of what you saw was me nervous and falling back on bad habits.

                        We do have a CT this weekend and the height of the fences, unfortunately to him, are only 2' and I plan on going martingaless, what better height to give it a shot!

                        I will say he is a fantastic teacher. He does let me know when I am too forward, too handsy, not enough leg, etc. I have to give him credit for being as faithful to me and patient in the learning department because I know more than once he's wanted to buck me off but never has....then again I guess we all have those days!
                        Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                        Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                        Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                        Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


                        • #32
                          I have to also chime in about the bits. I know I mentioned earlier to switch it up, but I am using the same bit as Serendipityhunter. My former OTTB that I mentioned had been in a segunda, twisted wire, three ring elevator, pelham, you name it he tried it. He went best in a german silver french link loose ring snaffle. With my current OTTB, he had been ridden in a series of bits as well and now we are in the german silver loose ring snaffle. I call it my Mr. Wonderbit! Yes you have to ride off your seat but it is worth it!


                          • #33
                            Akkk you poor dear. You are doing a decent job riding a horse that needs a pro NOW!! Your ride is based on what you know but you are riding defensively because this horse needs proper training.

                            Telling you to take of that martingale is a band-aid approach. You may get whacked in the face at some point and wish you had that thing on.

                            This horse should not be competing, and should not be doing jumpers yet. Take the money you would spend on the shows and spend it on a trainer for 6 months.
                            If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks again everyone!

                              I did have my jumping lesson yesterday and we worked on rhythm and my hands. I also went martingaless and it made a world of difference for my horse. Not once did he raise his head in anticipation or in my face, he cantered a course of varying heights 2'3 to 3' perfectly. Only once did he raise his head and it was several strides after the fence when we were trying to set up the lead change, but it was not as bad as the videos and only once, he immediately gave and we went on our merry way. It was the best schooling I've had in a while and the first time I didn't "fight" him.

                              Tomorrow we have a lesson with a dressage/jumper trainer to focus on our CT and I plan on using the CT, our jumping height is only 2', to test the theory away from home. Don't worry I'll have my backup plan, but its a perfect height and place to give it a try!

                              My trainer and I had a talk about the decision and she thinks its a great idea so we'll pursue it and see how it goes, but I can definitely tell you that my horse wasn't worried for the first time and relaxed and had fun.
                              Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                              Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                              Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                              Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


                              • #35
                                Lovely horse, but Ok, honest evaluation that you may not care for. A horse lifts its head/hollows the back not because of needing to look at a fence, but because it doesnt not know how to properly respond to the action of the bit. When a rider lowers/fixes the hands at the withers the horse reams its bars/is given pain. And the issues become more and more tensioned. The horse hollows to get freedom to bascule even when there is pain, he knows he needs that. And when those things happen the horse can pull fences because the bascule over the fence is not even.

                                How to get a horse to seek the hand, improvebascule, seek the hand rather hollowing and 'stretch'? Riding on a curved line will help with putting the horse more into the outside rein (inside hand lifted to create lower/longer connection into outside rein). Times with hands lifted (bit acts on the corners of the mouth not the bars) will protect the bars and cause the horse to push down/out rather than hollow. These are issues to be solved in flat work first, no sawing the horse lower/closed (which is actin alternately on the bars).

                                What is the proper fit of a running martingale/why use it? To protect the rider IF the horse inverts. When lifted straight up from the base it should be the height of the point of the hip (that is quite long). But solving the issues rather than band aiding it is a better idea.

                                Imho a horse at less than 4' is not a jumper, they should be relaxed over the fence, or the rider needs to go back to schooling caveletti to fences, and represent the fence. No running at fences, etc
                                I.D.E.A. yoda


                                • Original Poster

                                  Ideayoda...thank you! you actually hit a point that my trainer caught us doing the Monday after the show. I apparently lean to the inside a lot. I am worse to the left than the right but my hands are always lower and I drop my shoulder as well which effectively does exactly as you say. The last week we have been focusing and me picking up my inside hand to be even with my house and lifting me inside shoulder and making my horse balance himself correctly versus leaning in. (Forrest LOVES that habit) I have seen a tremendous difference in our approach to the fence and rhythm once we really started to work on it, which in turn is probably why I had a calmer relaxed horse yesterday!

                                  I will definitely work on it more and honestly am excited for the dressage because I really think it will firm up the basics and help us over the fences.

                                  Thanks again for your honest opinion!!
                                  Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                                  Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                                  Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                                  Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                                    Ideayoda...thank you! you actually hit a point that my trainer caught us doing the Monday after the show. I apparently lean to the inside a lot. I am worse to the left than the right but my hands are always lower and I drop my shoulder as well which effectively does exactly as you say. The last week we have been focusing and me picking up my inside hand to be even with my house and lifting me inside shoulder and making my horse balance himself correctly versus leaning in. (Forrest LOVES that habit) I have seen a tremendous difference in our approach to the fence and rhythm once we really started to work on it, which in turn is probably why I had a calmer relaxed horse yesterday!

                                    I will definitely work on it more and honestly am excited for the dressage because I really think it will firm up the basics and help us over the fences.

                                    Thanks again for your honest opinion!!
                                    While we're talking about leaning...

                                    If your horse will tolerate it, buckle your stirrups together in a loop and set them over your saddle, per the instructions in the recently bumped torture methods thread. It definitely helps with learning to stay square on the horse!
                                    Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                                    • #38
                                      Some great points here. A few things to add...

                                      This horse needs to learn to accept the contact and go FORWARD. That sucking back, head rising is all because you lack forward and connection.

                                      Take the standing martingale off..which I believe you have done.

                                      A running martingale is great for added control if you need a little something, but it should never interfere with your rein if it is fitted correctly. Whether you are handsy or not, it will not affect the true use of a martingale.

                                      I would back of the course work with this horse until he accepts the above. Gymnastic work would be great.

                                      I read that you have solved the problem, that is great. Just keep these things in mind. Also, some horses just like to carry their head high when jumping. My guy is one of these. The best thing you can do is learn how to stay balanced and out of the way, and keep your hands low to keep your horse happy.
                                      Boss Mare Eventing Blog