There are many styles of martingales available. A standing martingale connects from the girth to the noseband and physically limits the horse from raising his head. These are often seen on horses competing over fences in the hunter ring, and are sometimes considered part of the outfit, even if the horse does not need to wear one. In the show ring, there are specific rules that govern the use of martingales so make sure you familiarize yourself with your discipline to make sure that you are using correct and legal equipment.
A running martingale has rings that the reins pass through and the effect is a downward pull when the rider engages the bit. These martingales are often seen on event horses and jumpers who need the freedom of their head as they negotiate big obstacles and difficult terrain.
Martingales can be very useful training aids when used and adjusted appropriately. If you have not used one before, please consult with a trainer who can help you fit it correctly.
Sometimes, even a well fitted saddle can succumb to the forces of gravity and want to slide back on a horse that has a big jump, or when you are riding over hilly terrain.
A breastplate or breast collar is often used to enhance the security of your saddle. A breastplate attaches to the “D’s” on the front of the saddle with a strap that also connects to the girth. A martingale attachment can be added to the breastplate if desired. Dee ring “savers” can be a useful addition and attach to the stirrup bars.
A breast collar attaches to the girth at the sides, and some also attach to the saddle “dees” as well. Many breastplates have elastic inserts for comfort.
It is important that any of this equipment should be adjusted so it is not exerting extreme pressure on the chest or shoulders. The purpose of the equipment is not to tie the saddle forward onto the horse’s shoulders, but to arrest an unsafe rearward travel. If your saddle is constantly slipping back, it is likely that you have a saddle fit problem.
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