What is it and how does it work?

The running martingale consists of a yoke with a strap that runs between the horse’s legs to the girth. The strap from the chest to the reins forks at about the level of the chest and has a ring at each end, which the reins are run through. When the horse raises its head above the desired point, the martingale puts downward pressure on the reins and presses the bit on the bars of the horse’s mouth. This pressure prohibits horse from raising head to high & cues him to lower his head. The reins should always make a straight line from the rider’s hand to the bit ring when the running martingale is not in effect.

 A horse’s instinct is to fight against anything that grabs its head. Use a martingale–or any training device that restricts the head—with care, especially the first time. The running martingale is typically used with snaffle bits. A running martingale provides more freedom for the horse than a standing martingale. It does not restrict the side to side motion. It useful when working on bending, collecting and suppling a horse during competitions or practice of fast sports. If a horse happens to trip the rider can slide the reins forward and the horse will have full use of its’ head and neck to facilitate in regaining it’s balance. A running martingale should be used with rein stops placed on rein between bit and ring of the martingale, thus preventing the martingale ring from sliding down and catching on any portion of the bit, when the horse lowers its head.

 The Western version of a running martingale is called a training fork. It doesn’t always have the strap around the neck, but works the same way. Besides leather some are made from elastic or tubular rubber, giving a softer cue initially.