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How to properly fit a running martingale

Updated February 21, 2017

Horse trainers and equestrian competitors often use a wide range of tack while working their horses. Saddles, bridles and breast plates are all fairly standard pieces of equipment, regardless of your breed or discipline. Less common pieces of equipment can be used on horses that need a little more training. Running martingales are used by many trainers to help teach the horse to keep his head down through pressure on the reins. Running martingales might seem like a complex training tool, but they are simple to fit and to use.

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  1. Place the headstall on your horse and attach your reins. The reins are necessary, as they are used in conjunction with the martingale while it is on the horse.

  2. Set your saddle pad and saddle in the proper position on your horse’s back. Do not buckle the cinch yet, as it will need to be unfastened for your martingale.

  3. Hold the martingale so that the loop for the girth is at the bottom and slide it over the horse’s neck. Slip the girth strap through the loop in your martingale, and cinch your saddle up as normal.

  4. Adjust the neck strap so that it sits all the way against the base of the horse’s neck. You should be able to fit all four fingers between the strap and the horse’s neck with no pressure or discomfort on your hand.

  5. Slip the reins through the rings on the ends of the short martingale straps. Set the reins in the proper position over your horse’s neck to check the length of the straps.

  6. Pull the left side of the martingale strap up towards the horse’s head. If it reaches the throatlatch area, then it is long enough. Repeat this process with the right side and adjust the length as necessary.

  7. Tip

    Use caution when fitting your martingale. You need to make sure the straps are all secure and right enough so that they do not shift while the horse is being ridden.


    Do not overtighten your straps. If they are too tight, your horse will not be able to move properly and could injure herself.

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Things You'll Need

  • Running martingale
  • Saddle
  • Saddle pad
  • Headstall
  • Reins

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

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