Types of Martingales
Martingales are used as training aids and in other situations to control a horse's head carriage.There are a few different kind of martingales. The three most common are the running, standing, and German martingale. Each martingale has different actions on the horse and produce a different effect.
The most common martingale is the standing martingale. The standing martingale attaches from the girth through either a breast plate or yoke strap around the neck and attaches to the nose band. This style martingale prevents the horse from tossing its head up or raising its head past a certain position. This martingale is used in both English and western disciplines. The down side of a standing martingale is the risk of falls by the horse as he has less room to balance in the event he trips. You can also never use a standing martingale on a drop, flash or figure 8 nose band. It could harm or damage the horses nose cartilage.
The running martingale is the second most used martingale. Similarly to the standing martingale, the running attaches to the girth, passes through the front legs to a neck strap. Just after the neck strap however the running martingale splits in to two separate sections. Each having a single metal ring at the end. The horses reins are then passed through the rings. When fitted properly the rings should not interfere with the reins when the horses head is in the proper position. If the horse where to raise its head the rings and reins would act as a leverage device to encourage the horse to lower its head. The running martingale does not interfere with the free range of the horses head and is safer than a standing martingale as long as you use rein stops for the to prevent the rings of the martingale from catching on the reins at the bit. Many horses are also at some point trained in a running martingale and it is a popular tool for training.
The second to last martingale is the German or Market Harborough martingale is just like the other two attached to the girth, where the running has rings the German martingale has longer “forks” with snaps on the ends to attach to d-rings on the reins. This martingale allows some freedom of head moment and acts similarly to a running martingale but this one has addition leverage.
The last type of martingale is not really a martingale at all but a safety device used in European racing. It is called the Irish Martingale. It is a short strap with rings on either end that the reins are run through. It rests under the horses head on the reins and prevents the reins from dropping in the way of the horses legs.