Martingales

This topic contains 26 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Joe-Joe Joe-Joe 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • samteddy123 Original Poster samteddy123
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    My horse had surgery on his elbow and he was a western horse, but was introduced to English riding and jumping in the summer of 2014. He has never worn a martingale but I want to start using one but I don’t know how he’s going to react. He is the type of the horse that will over react and fuss about it, any advice on how to introduce it to him first without him breaking one would be very helpful.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Why do you want to use a martingale? There are two primary types – standing and running, and they work differently. This is something that you should probably discuss with your trainer/instructor, or at least someone who knows your horse. Less is often better, and if you don’t need it, or it isn’t going to do whatever it is you want, it might be better to leave well enough alone. I don’t quite understand the relevance of the elbow surgery – could you explain more?

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    I’m a firm believer in “less is more.” I’m also not a big believer in martingales, but luckily since dressage is my primary riding style, martingales are prohibited in dressage. The reason for that being that dressage is ALL about training, and teaching the horse to work with light contact at the end of whatever length of rein he is given. A well trained 1st level dressage horse should be able to gently take hold of the bit and pull the reins softly (not jerkingly) them through the riders slightly opened hands, all the way down to the point where the horse can all but drag his nose in the footing. A martingale is designed to limit how much movement and downward stretch of the neck the horse. Almost anything a martingale can do can be better done with training. What exactly is the horse doing that you feel requires a martingale?

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    G&S – just another point – martingales are also not permitted in hunter classes or equitation classes, except over fences. We are agreed that they should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary.

    It is never the horse's fault

    ellen_gatchell
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    The mildest martingale I am familiar with is the training martingale that is often used with Arabians. I used one with my OTTB and I feel it was effective when needed and helpful especially in the beginning of his training. I was not sure if he ever had any type of martingale. As far as I knew, he had a tie down for gaming before I owned him. I started with a little lateral work from the ground so he could get the idea. I still use my good friend Marty, but you can certainly educate a horse without one.

    samteddy123 Original Poster samteddy123
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    Joe- Joe, he had surgery and has to go through therapy. This basically means i have the chance to retrain him, and before he always kept his head like a giraffe. My friend is an amazing rider and can ride the toughest horse, but even she couldn’t bring his head down. He can be retarded at times.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Ah. My boy used to be a giraffe, and I found that a lot of ground work on the issue, and the use of draw reins to be far more effective than a martingale. You might want to look into draw reins instead. As previously stated, you cannot use a martingale in flat classes, and also you don’t have the same ability to control head placement with one. Draw reins, used correctly, are more effective, and (when you don’t need them) can just be dropped on his neck or loosened so that they aren’t in play.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    It is also not all that difficult to teach a horse to stretch to the bit. Many many years ago when I was riding Hunt Seat in Germany, we finished every lesson with “Zugeln aus den Handen kauen lassen.” These were hunter jumper horses, not “dressage” horses, but this German expression translates quite literally as “Allow the horse to chew the reins out of [the rider’s] hands”. The one major difference between the basic Hunter/Jumper instruction I had had in the USA and the basic hunter/jumper training I was lucky enough to have found in Germany was that every rider and every horse was taught dressage basics before they got beyond the beginner stage. They just never called it “dressage”. It was just the correct basics for any and every type of “English” riding. And every German school horse knew to “chew the reins out of the rider’s hands” on command and stretch down far enough to all but drag his or her nose in the sand. This was a revelation to me, and one of those magical moments when you realize that there really are nirvanas. I also learned that you can slow a horse down or speed him up in any gait just by slightly opening or closing the tension in the rider’s hands. And you can bring a horse to an abrupt halt just by tensing every muscle in the fingers, arms, shoulders & back so that the horse runs into the bit instead of the bit floating in his mouth like it usually does. But this all has to be taught to the horse. None of them come out of saddle breaking knowing this. But it is not that hard to teach to riders and horses, and can often make martingales & draw reins & harsh bits totally unnecessary. All of which explains why “dressage” can be as addictive as any drug.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    G&S – the hard part is finding someone who can help one learn how to do this. We don’t, in this country, seem to spend as much time as we should learning or teaching these basics, to our horses or ourselves. I have read a lot of books, but although it is a bit helpful, no book (or video) can explain the way things should feel. No bit of equipment needs to be harsh, if used correctly and gently.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    I thoroughly agree, but there are people who have this kind of knowledge and even enjoy sharing it. A lot of the better dressage training, closer to what I found in Germany, is now called “French Dressage.” So if you are looking for classical European dressage basic training, that term can help you find it.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Finding it and affording it are not always the same. I’d love to see all instructors use this method, rather than hit and kick (which was fairly prevalent in my youth). I am lucky, to have a really good instructor/trainer where my horses are, but I have seen a lot of riders who don’t seem to have a clue, mostly because no one has taught them.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    There are good dressage teachers out there who know their stuff, particularly at the lower more basic levels, but don’t charge $100 for a 45 min. lesson. My best advice is to look for dressage instructors who work primarily with beginners and lower level dressage – W/T Intro, Training Level and First Level. The people who teach correct 2nd Level & above will be more expensive, but also expect their students to arrive with good basics. Many of the expensive instructors don’t want to be bothered with beginners – – for them the fun starts at 2nd Level. But there are good instructors who can teach correct basics and even prefer working with beginners.

    It is always a pleasure to find a like minded horse oriented person.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Thank you! For myself, there is a good dressage instructor in the area, but adding the cost of transport to the cost of the lessons, it is really out of my range. I know enough to teach my horses the basics, but would really love to advance, just for the personal satisfaction. My boy, after a year, can be ridden bareback with just a halter and lead, and will do whatever I ask just with body and voice cues. When I met him, he went around with his neck stretched out and his head sideways, so we went back to kindergarten and started over. Not only does he move like a different horse, he looks like one, to the point that the previous owner did not recognize him at first. I just got my mare at the end of January, and then the weather turned foul, so I haven’t been able to do much with her, but I have high hopes.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    If your local dressage instructor has school horses, that might be an option to consider. Obviously not as good as being able to take your own horse there, but it could give you the chance to learn new techniques that you can use on your own horses at home.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    No, there are no school horses. I wish there were, as it would be easier to teach my horses things if I could learn how to do them on a horse that has already had the training. It goes back to knowing how something should feel, so that one knows what to do.

    It is never the horse's fault

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