Monday, October 12, 2015

Martingale Monday

running and jumping
One of the things I love about blogging is the ability to get to know the person on the other side of the keyboard. It removes the whole "strangers on the internet" stigma and makes people be more civil.

And that's good.

Because I hate when I'm reading the latest post on the Chronicle facebook with a picture of a Big Name Rider, and someone IMMEDIATELY jumps all over them for using (DUN DUN DUN) a martingale. It takes less than four comments to get from "what's that for?" to "they are obviously a bad rider" to "that person is like horse Hitler".

standing and jumping

Look, I'm not a famous rider and I never will be and I'm ok with that about myself. I like to refer to a quote from one of my personal idols, William Fox Pitt, when he said that he lost at one of his first big events early in his career because something unforeseen happened and he was riding without a martingale. Now he always rides with one on the logic that it does nothing unless you need it, and then you don't want to be without it.

morning after something bad happened
So there's that.

And let's all just agree that Mr. Fox Pitt rides a hell of a lot better than most 4* riders ever will, much less us ammies flopping around the lower levels for fun.

But if you have an irrational hatred for one of the best British riders in the world. let's look at one of the most prominent American eventers of all time, aka "god". Some of you may know him as Jimmy Wofford. His comment is that every horse should go in a plain caveson and a snaffle, but you have to LIVE THROUGH THE PRESENT to prove him right eventually.

And if you're still hating on those people because they're strangers on the internet, well, here's this:
because somehow i'm not a stranger on the internet
This happened in a dressage lesson at home with a low pressure trainer. It created a whole chain of behaviors that took quite a long time to fix and the initial shenanigan could have been completely prevented with the use of a simple training aid known as a martingale. In fact, either a standing or running martingale would have done the trick in this situation.

I had neither.

It sucked.

So while I 100% understand that a martingale is not an legal piece of tack for a dressage horse to compete in, you bet your ass Courage goes in one periodically. 

no you cannot dump my ass in the lake
It works for us. It has no effect until something untoward happens, then it goes back to neutral. Instead of learning to turn himself inside out and run for the hills, Courage learns to deal with life.

And that is a very, very good thing. Hate all you want on my artificial aids, but at the end of the day, I'm creating an educated equine who will be very capable without the crutch. Until then, I have to survive.


  1. Trainer told me I should ditch the martingale for jumping because it was just something for Bobby to brace against. I tried it because she's been right about a lot of things thus far. FAAAAALLLSEEEEE. Never jumping without one again, thanks.

  2. I have no problem when people can defend their decisions. I dislike when they don't know why they do something. But you do you, unabashedly!

    Ps properly fitting martingales FTW

  3. I always jump in a loose standing martingale. It does absolutely nothing for us until it does.

  4. I'm a strong proponent of running martingales on cross country since they are just decorative right up until they're saving your keister. Better to have it and never need it than to need it and have it sitting in the barn, just like your crop. I certainly never jump without carrying one even though I rarely need it.

  5. Love martingales. Standing or running are fine with me. Lucinda Greene is another one who won't go out XC without one, on any horse, at any level.

    Mo loved his standing and now he loves his running, and I love not having a broken nose.

    1. I'm not particularly vain, but broken bones are never fun.

  6. I am all for the *proper* use of equipment as a training aid. I definitely use a running on my jumper, because instead of fighting with him for the whole course and trying to ride an upside down horse, he can bump it and go back to normal. It's never going to be in his way unless it's supposed to be.

  7. I don't use a martingale, but I'm not opposed to them. I've used them on the horses that need them. Nilla hasn't so far, but I'll add one should she ever need one. I use side-reins in lunging and have used draw reins in the past. I think all tools have their place and people need to shut up about it unless you're doing rollkur or leaving bloody spur tracks, do whatever the hell you want.

  8. I'm a huge fan of running martingales, especially on wobbly, unpredictable young horses. In fact I still ride Mr. 4th Level Hampton in a running martingale sometimes! It is benign unless you run into trouble!

  9. Love properly-fitted martingales. I come from h/j land where no one gets offended by them unless they are on wrong.

  10. Running martingales are probably my second favorite piece of tack after my Happy Mouths. I like having a non-broken nose when some shit goes down.
    O drives in one for literally every drive. It comes off for shows, then it comes back on at home. Always.

  11. Yep I am a huge believer in living through the moment and being prepared to make it as easy as possible for the horse to understand what I want and what is correct.

  12. Tucker wore a martingale for the majority of his first year as a dressage horse, because learning about contact when you've been a hunter for your whole life causes a LOT of flailing and panicking. And like you said, I needed to live through it. Also, as far as training aids go, I'd say a martingale is the LEAST offensive of all of them. Even if you just use it because your hunter looks prettier in one, who cares?

  13. I definitely feel the same way, I even feel the same way about draw reins, which I throw into the same category as martingales (which most people wouldn't but to each their own). I feel like preventing a problem is important and if a martingale or whatever else is going to help with that, then great!

  14. There are SO may different ways to do so many different things with horses, the haters are just stupid. I'm totally lucky with Georgie, and I realize that. Doesn't mean other tools don't come out of the toolbox when and if necessary.

  15. I have absolutely no issue with a running for the exact reasons you mentioned. As long as they are adjusted correctly, there aren't detrimental. However, don't get me started on the people that adjust them way to short and then can't understand why their horses go like they've been fish hooked when they take it off. Makes me crazy!

  16. I used to use a running all the time to keep from having a broken face. Seriously useful piece of equipment if used properly!

  17. I started with a mare that had all sorts of issues with rein contact. Step one was a side pull to get a good whoa and introduce bending. Switching to a bit my running martingale was a frequent life saver (ok face saver) as she would throw her head and bolt (or spook) frequently.

    Best investment I'd made in that small piece of equipment.


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