How to choose your training aid for your horse ?

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A training aid is a piece of equestrian tack designed to help the rider control their horse. It controls the carriage, primarily their head and neck. It also improves your horse’s muscle strength.

Please note that under no circumstances should training aids be used instead of riding aids. A running/standing martingale and draw reins put pressure on your horse’s nose and mouth. They must be used with caution. There may be safety issues. Each type of martingale has its own function and should be chosen based on the area you wish to work on with your horse.

The use of a training aid will only work effectively with impulsion. Training aids should not work against the horse but rather guide its training. So you need to be an experienced rider and/or work with a professional when using a training aid.

Choose your trainig aid for your horse : the martingale

The running martingale

The running martingale is a slider martingale that limits unwanted head movement upward.

It applies pressure when the horse raises its head beyond a certain point. The rings slide to the rein stops to apply pressure to the reins and bit. This makes the horse lower its head.

It should only be used if your horse tries to get away from you by raising its head. Otherwise, no pressure from the martingale should be applied.

This martingale is often used when working on obstacles or on horses that raise their head to try to get away from their rider.

How do you fit a running martingale to your horse?

There are 2 types of running martingale. They have the same function and usage but a different format.

The running martingale can be used as a training aid on its own.

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But it can also be fitted to a breastplate if it has a metal ring or clasp. In this case, just add a running martingale attachment.

You can also replace the 2 leather straps on a running martingale with a bib for more targeted training.

The standing martingale

Unlike running martingales, standing martingales are fitted straight onto your horse’s noseband. If it tries to raise its head, pressure will be applied to the nose and not the head. This type of training aid is far more restrictive. It gives the horse less freedom to move as it runs from the girth to the noseband.

Pressure should only be applied to a standing martingale if the horse attempts to defend itself. Under no circumstances should the training aid be used if the neck is in a normal position.

You can add a elastic breastplate to go with this martingale. Should your saddle slide backwards, use of the standing martingale could restrict your horse. The effects would be detrimental.

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Choose your trainig aid for your horse : draw reins

Draw reins control your horse’s head carriage. They act as a pulley which increases the pressure. They fit to the girth, slide through the snaffle and are held by the rider. Draw reins have a restrictive effect and should only be used if the horse’s carriage is not what you want it to be. That is why it should not be applied the rest of the time. The head-neck position must remain free and unrestricted.

There are 2 fitting options:

  • between the 2 back legs, leaving a wide open angle.
  • on the sides, to create a corridor. This fitting option is often used with young horses that tend to “flap about”.

Training aids are intended to be training aids for you and your horse. We must underline that they only work on controlling the position of your horse’s head. The way draw reins or martingale lowers the head results in “good” carriage without them actually being straight! Impulsion and engaging hind quarters are essential to mounting your horse and therefore straightness. None of these martingales actually improve any of these criteria. They only guide your horse’s head. They should therefore only be used with due care and in a controlled environment. If you are not an experienced rider, please ask a professional for advice.