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Re: Re-phrased Question re R-Martingale

Going to weigh in on the running martingale question here.  My experience
isn't nearly as good as either Abby's or Bonnie's so take it from whence it

>>    1) Is it correct to say that a Running Martingale is used generally to
cause the horse to lower the head? Or,to encourage a horse to "break" at the
poll and soften the neck muscles at the throat area?

If someone is using it for this purpose, and achieving it, then the running
martingale has been incorrectly fitted.  A running martingale is not a "head
setting" gadget but one which comes into play only if the horse raises his
nose above the aids.

However, you must take into account that the martingale will still place
some weight on the reins, even when not "engaged" and on sensitive horses,
this could have an adverse effect on the horse's way of going.  For this
reason, I won't use one on a young horse who has not learned to use himself
correctlly sans martingale.

OTOH, if a horse has been properly trained to the aids, you shouldn't need
one......catch 22 really.

Abby wrote:
>IT IS MY OPINION as an instructor and trainer that the use of a running
martingale impairs the rider's correct and effective use of the hands, and
that with correct and effective use of the hands, the rider's rein aids will
cause the horse to *reflexively* lower his head, soften the neck, release
the back and withers, soften the jaw, and break at the poll.  If the rider
is capable of doing this with the reins alone, the r-m is not necessary.  If
the rider is not capable of doing this, then the r-m will certainly not

With this, I agree.  I don't like to see any gadget in the hands of someone
who lacks "feel".  And gadgets tend to impair, not improve feel.

>2)Will a R-M ever LIFT the head for a horse carrying his head too low,by
encouraging him to break at the poll?

It shouldn't.

However, I did once see a horse, who objected to any downward pressure on
the reins (long history of abuse by rider's hands) rear up and over
backwards, because he objected to the RM.

>No.  Never.  The rider must use his/her legs to accomplish lifting of the

At the risk of sounding anal, lets clarify that it's use of LEGS, LEGS,
LEGS, LEGS, and itty bitty careful use of *whisper* hands, which
accomplishes this.

(Sorry, watched someone see sawing at their horse's mouth this weekend to
get it to come "up")

>THAT SAID, I do believe that there are uses for a running martingale.  I
just prefer not to acknowledge them, for fear someone may think I
actually *endorse* their use!

I have no such compunction because there are occasions when I DO use a r-m,
although the manufacturers won't recognise them when they see them : when
you jump XC, and your trusty steed throws you head first into the water and
then gallops home, the RM is a useful device to stop the reins getting
caught between his legs and breaking.

Also, the neck strap is a useful hand hold when you're in the country and
taking the potty seat when your horse leaps off of a big bank.

But on the whole, I'm such a lazy tart that the less I have to do when I
tack up, the better.  Which is why I'm a cavesson and no-gadget gal <g>


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