Breastplates and martingales

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What is a breastplate?

The breastplate is a piece of riding equipment used to prevent the saddle from slipping backwards over the horse's withers. It is usually attached to the saddle and passes over the horse's shoulders, with straps that go around the horse's chest. The objective of a breastplate is to hold the saddle from sliding backwards and to keep the horse's shoulders free to move.

What is a martingale for a horse?

A martingale, on the other hand, is part of riding equipment and is often used to ensure that the horse's head does not move. It is normally attached to the horse's girth and passes through the rings of the bit, with a strap around the horse's neck. The goal of the martingale is to protect the horse from elevating its head too much, which can cause it to buck or buck.

Different types of martingales for horses

Martingales are available in three main types: the standing martingale, the running martingale, and the German martingale. Each of these three types of martingales can be used in different ways, for different motives and in different equestrian disciplines.

Martingales can and usually are made of leather, but they can also be made of strong synthetic material. A very frequent question in this regard is, is it essential to wear a martingale? The answer is that it depends largely on the rider's personal preferences. 

Therefore, a good understanding of the differences between the types of martingales available, including how they work, the specific performance of each type and when to use the different styles is the key to being able to recognize when it may be necessary to use one.

Here we are going to describe some of the most popular types of martingales and their main characteristics: 

Horse running or horse racing martingale

The horse running martingale is designed to work in combination with the bit. It features a long loop harness strap that anchors to the girth and a strap that fits over the horse's head and sits over the shoulders, as with a standing martingale. 

The horse racing martingale is different in that it has two bifurcated straps that are attached to the reins by means of metal rings. Occasionally, in western riding, the martingale is referred to as a "training fork".

-Horse standing martingale

The standing martingale is used to prevent the horse from putting its head and neck above the control point, it is also used to prevent the horse from moving its head excessively while being ridden.

It can also help to prevent the horse from rearing up too much. On the other hand, it is important to always place it with the correct tension, since if it is too tight, the horse's head will be limited and if it is too loose, it will not act as it should.

-Fixed Martingale 

This martingale is a type that can be more restrictive and should not be too short. It is used as follows: the strap is attached to the girth and between the horse's forelegs and through the neck strap, secured by a rubber stopper, looping into the noseband.

-Sliding Martingale

This type of martingale consists of a strap that slides along a loop in the neck strap from the girth, and divides into two branches that have a ring at their ends. 

These rings should reach to the withers or throat of the horse. Furthermore, the reins pass through these rings on both sides of the neck and to prevent a ring from catching the buckle in the bit and being dangerous. Finally, it is important that there are stops on the reins.

-Irish Martingale

Irish martingales are especially suitable for racehorses. They are very easy to use, they simply have two rings separated by a short piece of leather that holds the reins on both sides of the horse's neck.

-German Martingale

Finally, we have the German martingales, which are used to help the high-headed or aggressive horse get a better mount by placing him in a more favorable working position, with the withers flexed. This type of martingale can be used on horses of any age and in all disciplines.

Does my horse need a martingale?

It depends on the opinion of the rider. On the one hand, the martingales help the horse maintain a correct exact position, but it's just a tool and can be removed with consistent training. 

A martingale in the correct hands is a gentle tool that can help benefit the horse and ride, and it is frequently used while children are learning how to ride a horse, just to get more confidence and not be scared if the horse is moving its head. 

On the other hand, there are some riders who would rather not use this type of equipment. 

Furthermore, there are some disciplines where martingales are not allowed: for example, running martingale are accepted under British show jumping and British eventing rules but this type of running martingales, just like standing martingales, cannot be used in dressage events. 

Horse martingale main purposes

As we have seen previously it is a choice to use martingales for our horse and, in that sense, it is important to analyze the purpose that this equipment has so that we can make an informed decision on whether or not to use each type of martingale when we ride our horses in the different disciplines. 

On the one hand, why use a martingale on a horse? This question has an easy answer, a martingale can help the rider to communicate with the horse, as we have already seen, we can use it mostly for jumping or riding in the field when we are working with young or inexperienced horses.

Also, as we have seen previously, martingales are not allowed in dressage or hunter, although they may be used in some riding classes. In this regard, although they are allowed in many events, we always recommend that you check the rules in detail to make sure they are approved for use.

How to put on a martingale horse?

Is important to know how to fit the martingale and how to place it correctly so that it has positive benefits for your horse.

  • First, you must place the strap around the horse's neck with a space of approximately one inch between the horse and the strap. 

  • You should place the horse's saddle and pass the girth through the loop of the chest strap. Then tighten the girth securely.

  • Then we must adjust the length of the martingale so that the rings of the chest strap should reach the upper rings of the Y.

  • Finally pass the reins through the rings of the martingale.

For questions related to how to choose martingales or breastplates for your horse, which are adapted to the discipline and type of equipment your horse needs, please contact us, we will be happy to help you.


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