A martingale is a type of horse training equipment that limits the ability of a horse to raise its head too high. It’s often used on horses that are still in training or on those that tend to pull against the reins or toss their heads as they are being ridden.
There are several different types of martingales, and each one has its own unique design and purpose. The two most common are standing martingales and running martingales. The difference between these is how they are attached to the horse’s neck and girth.
Standing martingales have a neck strap that fastens around the horse’s neck. Then a martingale strap runs through the lower loop on the stand strap, connecting one end to the horse’s girth and the other to the noseband. When the rider tugs on the reins, the horse will feel pressure on the noseband and be encouraged to lower its head. The martingale strap will only apply pressure when the horse tries to lift its head too high, and the rider can adjust how much pressure is exerted by adjusting the length of the reins.
Running martingales have a neck strap that has a buckle to secure it around the horse’s neck. It then connects to the girth through an adjustable loop that is usually a bit larger than the original loop on the neck strap. The girth strap then splits into a Y shape, with a solid ring at each end where the reins can be passed through. When the rider wants to use the running martingale, they can cinch it tighter, which will apply more pressure on the horse’s chest when it is raising its head. However, the girth strap is able to relieve the pressure by slipping through the ring on the horse’s neck when the horse’s head drops below its natural position.
Another type of martingale is called a Market Harborough or German martingale. It’s similar to the running martingale, but the ends that run through the reins are threaded through the rings on the horse’s bit rather than through the ring on the neck strap.
Some researchers have looked into whether martingales are actually helpful when riding a horse. While they may not be the best choice for advanced riders, they’ve been shown to be useful when used appropriately on novice or beginner horses, particularly in a riding school environment. When used properly, they can help beginners keep their hands steady, which is important for keeping the horse’s head in the correct head position as it’s being ridden. It also helps the horse learn to use its back more, which can improve performance in certain competitions such as dressage or jumping. However, there are some people that disagree with the benefits of using a martingale in general. They’ve been accused of causing horse pain and creating conflicting behavior in the horse, such as pulling on the reins to try and raise its head higher than it would naturally do.