Give me advice on a martingale please…

Life is on hold until I have this baby. I’m 38 weeks pregnant now (which is technically full term), so I could go into labor at any time. I’ve been doing my barn chores, but I haven’t done any more trailer training or horse bathing or anything fun with my horse. Being on my feet is not so fun anymore so I’ve been doing the bare minimum. I have been tempted to saddle up and canter around the pasture a couple times in an attempt to start labor, but that’s probably not wise and I have a feeling my doctor would not approve!

I am getting very excited about getting back to riding. My goal is 3 shows this summer- August, September and October- so I have the first part of the summer to train and get my fitness level back. I’ve gained about 20 lbs so far during the pregnancy. I tried to keep my weight down because I knew I would regret packing on the pounds once I started riding again. I’m hoping to get back into shape fast. I am stoked about Baron’s weight gain over the winter. He needs to develop his butt and his topline and especially his neck, but he is looking round and gorgeous all over, such a difference from the bag of bones he was a year ago.

Now to get to the title of this post, I need a new martingale. I was borrowing my friend’s German martingale but he switched barns and took it with him. My question is, should I get another German or a standing? I’ve noticed that schooling shows in my area allow either a standing martingale or nothing at all. To be quite honest, I don’t know the pros and cons of each one or which would be better to work Baron in. All I want is to use the martingale to encourage him to round his back and neck and not be high-headed. I have no interest  in tying his head down or making him uncomfortable. I just want him to get used to carrying his head like a hunter and not a racehorse! So please tell my what you would recommend…

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2 thoughts on “Give me advice on a martingale please…

  1. Jenn May 3, 2010 / 6:01 pm

    I hate standing martingales as they tend to “trap” the horse and give him something to lean against. With a high-headed horse, the last thing you want to do is give him something to lean into and gain more of those awful under neck muscles.

    I do not like German martingales either because unless you have a very soft hand and have been trained in the proper use of one, they can do more to train bad habits and improper carriage in to the horse than help him use himself properly. I’ve witnessed many, many horses trained using a German martingale and 98% of them went with their necks curled and well behind the vertical…and they were not using their back ends properly. This is EXTREMELY hard to untrain.

    If you want to put him in a martingale, put him in a running martingale. It is a “passive gadget” in that it doesn’t come into play at all until the head goes up and he immediately punishes himself. As soon as his head comes down, he gets relief.

    The goal should be to put him in the martingale to “show him the way” and get him out of it as soon as he sees the light. If he’s traveling with his head high, he’s not coming through and using his back properly. If he’s using his back properly and rounding into the bridle he cannot travel with his head high.

    Work from the back to the front and you’ll achieve beauty, balance and a soft, relaxed horse every time. When the back is up and his hind end is through and working, the head will naturally come into place.

    Good luck!

  2. juliaeverheart May 3, 2010 / 7:32 pm

    This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I definitely don’t want to force his head into position for long periods because I know his topline isn’t developed enough to handle this yet. The running martingale sounds perfect. Thanks for your help!

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