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hansonmkusa

How To Use A Running Martingale - Western Riding

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Would like to get some advice on working my horse in a Running Martingale (all leather). I have never used one before -- we ride in western tack for trails mostly. I have some friends who have RM on their horses and told me to get one, they say it helps with flexing, etc.

I know I will have to buy rein stops and to use a snaffle bit when riding in a RM. Just need some exercies to use and how to get started.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

~MH

Edited by hansonmkusa

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Instead of putting that on. Teach your horse to flex from the ground, first with a rope halter. Then, once he can flex his head around to his shoulders, start over with a bit in is mouth. Training always trumps mechanical devices.

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Instead of putting that on. Teach your horse to flex from the ground, first with a rope halter. Then, once he can flex his head around to his shoulders, start over with a bit in is mouth. Training always trumps mechanical devices.

Ditto.

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Thank you all for the advice. Will do the ground work from the ground on flexing for sure. What is a running martindale really good for, just wonder. I have never used one before, was told from other horse ppl to get one tho?

~MH

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If you don't know what it's for and don't know how to use it, the best bet is to work with a qualified trainer. ELSE, you are setting yourself up for a potential wreck as well as really really bad training.

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It FORCES the horse to comply by putting downward pressure on the bars of the mouth. It teaches nothing but resistance and makes a horse's mouth even harder than before. Teaching him to flex by standing at the girth, putting an ounce of pressure on the lead and when he gives to the pressure, releasing the lead completely so he can turn his head right back to forward, IMMEDIATELY when he complies is the way to go.

This gives the horse an immediate release for good behavior. If he does not respond to an ounce of pressure after a few seconds, you increase the discomfort by putting more pressure and holding that, still no response, a bit more pressure and hold. He only needs to give you the SLIGHTEST try to give to the pressure and you IMMEDIATELY THROW the lead forward. Horses learn on the RELEASE, NOT ON THE PRESSURE.

Do both sides asking for him to give you a nice try or give on both sides, then drop that for the time being. Do it again later the same day. Every day ask for a further and further turn of his head, first time, just a couple inches give to each side, then increase by a couple inches daily. Before long, you take up on the lead and he will swing his head around to his shoulder. Don't forget to scratch his withers and praise him when he is complying willingly.

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sometimes reading the training board makes me wonder if we're even talking about the same device. Lots of bad opinions here about a RM.

A running martingale isn't going to make your horse softer or make him flex better. If a running martingale is adjusted correctly it keeps a horses head level and only provides pressure when the horse is lifting his head out of position. A running martingale should be adjusted so that if you are putting pressure in a straight line from the horses mouth to your hand, the RM will not engage. It will only apply pressure to the bars when a horse lifts his head out of position creating an instant and constant correction no matter where the riders hands may be.

A running martingale ridden in training helps a horse maintain a level head carriage with out forcing them as would a tie down or standing martingale would.

RM's are often used incorrectly as crutches for people who have poor hands and can't give consistant cues. That doesn't make a RM a bad thing, it makes the people who use it for the wrong reasons... wrong! You can teach the same thing to a horse with out one as long as you're consistant and ask for softness in all rides and handling.

It doesn't really sound like you need one though. If you do, it's not for the reasons you think. It won't make them soft in the poll or flex nicely from side to side. I'll use a RM occasionally when I have a horse who wants to be a little high headed and resistant. The nice thing about a RM used properly is that it will provide release immediately as soon as the horse returns to the correct head position... with or with out the rider having the timing and skill to do it themself.

Edited by mrs

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When you teach a horse to flex correctly, he finds no release in raising his head. In teaching a horse to flex he is being taught to follow the rein pressure. If this is done correctly then the horse is not going to raise his head as he has already learned, in his lessons, that he gets no release from raising his head out of position.

I see RM's as unnecessary and a substitute for proper training, not as a tool, because if the horse is still raising his head after he has been taught to follow the rein pressure, he likely has some other issue that is causing him to raise his head, be it teeth, back, spine, hoof, saddle or other issue causing him to be uncomfortable and raise his head.

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A running martingale, properly adjusted prevents a horse from lifting his head up high. If the horse puts his head in a more 'correct' position the martingale shouldnt pull on his face at all. That said Ive seen a lot of people tighten them waaaaay too much to force the horses head down. This is potentially dangerous as a horse that feels trapped can resort to irrational behavior like rearing and flipping over to escape the pressure.

I have used a martingale in the past and in my experience it really doesn't replace consistent training and it is definately not a tool I would reccomend for a beginner.

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I'll reiterate:

If you don't know what they're for and how to use them....you shouldn't be using them.

are they the devil? no. Not in the right situation.

Are they a "standard" piece of equipment? Not exactly.

Should you horse need it as part of normal training? no.

can you really eff up a horse using one? Yep.

so don't.

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I am with mrs.

I have used one and found it effective when retraining a few horses who had made it a habit to go extremely ventroflexed. (very common in the gaited world and can be very hard to "fix" ) It very much helped them self correct as we worked and made me work less. A shortcut? Maybe but i found it effective at the get go and was able to loose it after establishing what I wanted from the horse.

Would I use one again? I probably will on my old TWH padded show mare who was trained to go as head high as she can and has a completely hideous U neck. She is old and set in her ways and it help remind her what I want. I also ride her in draw reins for a few minutes occasionally to help her develop correct muscling and going round and underherself. I got great results last fall before this bad winter hit in just a month of minimal work.

Each of these things I use as a tool, not a "fix" and I use them with the intention of loosing them as quickly as possible.

Not for a beginner however IMO and should always be adjusted at wither level. It will hinder being able to really reach out and direct rein a horse but it willl reinforce keeping the head at a working level.

A tool.

JMO

Edited by Trinity

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just saying... a RM is not going to make your horse hard mouth. Your hands will do that.

I can get plenty of soft lateral flex from a horse with a RM on (or off). In the end, it's your hands that will teach the truth. The RM is only to keep their heads from elevating way above the wither. I find it most helpful when you're starting to train at speed and maybe when the rider is thinking of getting a "job done" rather than where their hands are at.

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Thank you everyone for the comments. After reading all this information, I will not be using the RM on JR at this time. I will need an experience person to teach me the correct way of using the RM.

I have always riden with a tie-down, was told I could use a RM instead of the tie-down. I just did not know there is a big difference in the two. I really appreciate the advice on what I can really do with him for now. I ride with a very soft hand with mostly set and leg cues. Was taught to keep the hands down and not in their mouths.

The people that was using the RM's had horses around 4 to 6 yrs old. JR is 10 yr old and more experienced with knowing his neck reining and cues. Just thought it was something he needed for training purposes. At this point I would not feel comfortable riding him in one until I get further training.

Glad I came here first to ask for advice instead of later. Thank you everyone...

~MH

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I was following around this topic for info on the martingale set up also. I was curious about it since last yr. I wanted to take a horse training program at conner's collage. One of the required items was just tha,t a running martingale.

Funny thing was brought up and that was the tiedown being used. :twitch: I used them only acouple of times then the stories were told, and the dying of a horse. I was told the only use for a tie down is to keep the horse from throwing his head back or rearing. It might help with the head being thrown back but I have wittnessed one still rear up throw it's self back and bad things happen. My trail friends lost a rider through a wreck in water and that was all tie down. Just be careful.

I am not a big "Natural Horsemen," but the fewer tools used the better things are for everyone. Most my works been done in a round pen or on a lounge line. Most start there. What does your horse do for you?

Mine, she does what ever we decide to do. I want to refine her, so I have been reading, watching, now I am ready for a trainer to walk us through those things. Be very careful if you don't have a trainer with you. Godd luck getting U-2 to where you want to be.

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A good post by Mr , as to the actual function , adjustment of a running martingale. I have one, but seldom use it. If I ever use it, it is short term, to fix a problem on a specific horse. Most horses I never use any artifical training devises and prefer to just use the feel in my hands, and the drive from my legs , giving at the right time, holding and driving when needed

BUT the op is now riding with a tiedown??? A running martingale is way ,way better than a tiedown, if you feel the need for such a devise.

Tiedowns are useful for two things only-roping and running games, used otherwise, they show lack of training on the horse

It is also down right dangerous to trail ride with atiedown. also a martingale, as I have seen horses get hung up in brush with the latter, and drown in rivers with the former. A tiedown prevents ahorse from being able to get his head above water, should he suddenly find himself in deep water

I suspect your horse is stiff and high headed, maybe flinging his head when he wishes his own way, and you use the tie down to prevent his head connecting with yours!

He needs to go back to basic training in a plain ole snaffle and knowledgeable hands

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A good post by Mr , as to the actual function , adjustment of a running martingale. I have one, but seldom use it. If I ever use it, it is short term, to fix a problem on a specific horse. Most horses I never use any artifical training devises and prefer to just use the feel in my hands, and the drive from my legs , giving at the right time, holding and driving when needed

BUT the op is now riding with a tiedown??? A running martingale is way ,way better than a tiedown, if you feel the need for such a devise.

Tiedowns are useful for two things only-roping and running games, used otherwise, they show lack of training on the horse

It is also down right dangerous to trail ride with atiedown. also a martingale, as I have seen horses get hung up in brush with the latter, and drown in rivers with the former. A tiedown prevents ahorse from being able to get his head above water, should he suddenly find himself in deep water

I suspect your horse is stiff and high headed, maybe flinging his head when he wishes his own way, and you use the tie down to prevent his head connecting with yours!

He needs to go back to basic training in a plain ole snaffle and knowledgeable hands

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I use the tie-down for speed events (barrels, poles). We do play-day events on him and have always used one at the events. I now plan on not using the tie-down for trail rides after reading about drowning horses.

I have never riden him without a tie-down but will do so this week and see how it goes. I guess that is why ppl where telling me to use the RM instead of a tie-down. But now I will see how he does without using either one.

Thanks for the comments.

~Melissa

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I'm joining this discussion late, deliberately. Melissa, thank you for listening and keeping an open mind. It's so easy to simply fall back on and use tools that we were handed early in our horsemanship journey without ever really thinking about them. In the right hands everything so far discussed might have it's place. But when a tool is just there because you have been told it should be there, at some point you really have to step back and say, why?

There will always be "short cuts" and "tools" that are invented to by pass good training. So many folks are secretly afraid of good training. It sounds like work and without the knowledge of the hows and whys, training doesn't even seem important. If someone can ride their horse, go somewhere and come home, what else is there? This is a trap! It closes the mind and limits the potential of your relationship with your horse in such a horrible way. The moment you decide that you "know it all" or that you can't improve the relationship you currently have with your horse, you leave the good path in favor of complacency and neglect.

Horsemanship is a journey and you may never even see the end because I think the path keeps growing. We live in an interesting time. Horses are more or less recreational now and rarely required to maintain a "job". So, keeping them busy and feeling useful is harder. (Okay, I'm on the East coast in a metropolitan area. You folks on working ranches can just sit this one out.) All these "tools" are just there to assist in giving the rider more control over their horse. There are better ways and if you have the time to actually work on the whys and what fors of these short cuts, you will likely discover that you are better off without them. This is not to cast you into the wind and expose you to some added element of danger. I say this to help you realize that if there is a reason your horse "needs" a tool to help you control him, then there is some issue that you really should be trying to fix instead. Now if you never go without the "tools", how on earth can you even know if you have a problem or not? We always talk about getting our horses to trust us. In order to have a healthy relationship with any creature, you have to give trust back. It is a two way street.

Never be afraid to ask "Why?" when someone hands you something and says you must use this.

William (historyrider)

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Thank you Willam for your comment. I plan on going to the riding arena this weekend here in town and will see how it all goes with him. I plan on taking some summer horsemanship clinics when they come to town in June and July.

~MH

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