What Does a Running Martingale Do?


Running martingales are generally used with horses or ponies who have a tendancy to carry their heads too high or throw their heads as this could lead to the rider being hit in the face.  If fitted correctly normally the running martingale will have no action but once the horse or ponies head reaches the point where they would be out of control the running martingale will provide pressure to encourage the head to be lowered.

Running Martingales can be used when jumping or riding cross country, mainly on strong young and inexperienced horses and ponies, the neck strap can also provide extra security for the rider.  

It is allowed to be used under BSJA and British Eventing rules for the cross country and show jumping phases or in working hunter classes but is not allowed in any other showing classes.

Running Martingales work by applying pressure on the bit and reins to encourage lowering of the head, it is extremely important when fitting the martingale to ensure that it is not fitted too short otherwise it will apply constant pressue on the mouth. When a riders pulls on the reins the martingale rings pull down which adds pressure to the bars of the mouth

As with all unwanted behaviour, before using a training aid for the first time physical causes should be ruled out i.e poorly fitting saddles, sore back, teeth issues, ill fitting bit etc

How to fit a Running Martingale

The below provides a rough guide to fitting a running martingale.

1. Attach the neck strap to your horse or pony loosely ensuring that the buckle of the neck strap is on the riders left when mounted.

2. Take the long strap and place between the horse or ponies front legs and feed the girth through, when doing up the girth ensure that the martingale strap is positioned in the centre of the front legs.

3. The neck strap should be adjusted to the correct size, if you can place four fingers underneath the neck strap on the horses neck then the neck strap is adjusted correctly otherwise adjust the buckle on the neck strap.

4. Take the two rings of the running martingale towards the withers, if the length is correct they should both just about reach the top of the wither otherwise adjust the buckle on the martingale which the girth goes through.

5. Finally hold up the rings of the martingale and feed left rein through towards the saddle and then the same with the right rein, place the right rein round the horses neck and do up the reins.

6. Always ensure that rein stops are fitted to the reins between the martingale rings and the bit  if using a running martingale to ensure that the rings do not get caught over the hook billets of the rein or any part of the bit. 

Running Martingale

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