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Breastplates and Martingales

Is your horse prone to sudden violent head movements in the show ring? If so, you need to buy yourself a martingale. This handy piece of equine tack is designed to control head carriage, preventing your hourse from performing random head movements that not only look terrible in the ring, but can severely compromise your safety. If your horse has a tendency to toss its head high, its head can easily hit you in the chin or chest and cause you to fall from the horse. Don't take the risk.

A leather martingale is a piece of equine tack that consists of either one or two leather straps tightly buckled to the girth and passed between the front legs of a show horse. The standing martingale is the most commonly seen variant and is popular in all forms of equestrian sports ranging from polo to show jumping. Standing martingales consist of a single leather strap with one end fastened to the horse's girth and the other to the back of the horse's noseband. Depending on how tightly the standing martingale is fastened, when the horse raises its head beyond a certain height, the tension in the martingale will apply a strong downward pressure on the horse's head and neck, forcing it to dip its head to a more comfortable level. The running martingale is more commonly seen in horse racing events. It consists of a single leather strap that splits in the middle into two separate strips. Instead of being fastened to the back of the noseband as with the standing martingale, the running martingale is connected to the reins via two small metal rings. This enhances the rider's ability to use the reins and bit to exert downward pressure on the horse's head when it raises its head too high.

As with most types of equine tack, a leather martingale can do more harm than good if used incorrectly. There are multiple safety precautions that must be observed by martingale users. For the standing martingale, it is imperative that overuse of the martingale be avoided. It should be used only on an as-need basis as overuse will inflict severe health problems such as uneven muscle development and spinal injuries on your horse. As for the running martingale, novice riders should avoid using excessive force when jerking on the reins as this can cause the bit to inflict severe injury on the horse's mouth. However, when used sensibly, the martingale is the best way to control head carriage for horses prone to erratic head movements and is a must-have accessory for any equestrian sportsman.