Secrets to Training Fork and Running Martingale Choice and Use

Both running martingales and training forks are excellent for helping a horse learn to carry its head in the position that will allow it improve collection. In this video, Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack and Ben Baldus of Baldus Horsemanship discuss the differences and similarities of both, as well as give you some insights for ways to improve specific issues by using these tools.

Dennis reminds us that anytime we ride with a snaffle, we want to use a browband headstall for safety and proper bit function. “It helps to hold the bit in position, and it keeps the headstall properly on the horse Dennis says.” Reins Stops are also critical whenever you’re using a martingale or training fork. Rein Stops prevent the rings of the martingale or training fork from ever getting hung up on the rein ends or rein end tie strings. “It’s a very inexpensive piece of equipment that could save your life” advises Dennis.

A training fork is made of a strap or cord that runs from the chest to the cinch. This strap is tied to 2 rein straps. Each rein strap has a ring at the end that the reins run through. Ben says “this is one I really like to use because it helps me slow my hands down and gives me a consistent feel. As I’m training, particularly young horses, when I’m picking my hands up if a horse resists the pressure and comes up with the head and neck, the training fork will be engaged to help give the horse a proper headset. It’s also going to help me to use my hands correctly. The training fork helps give me a consistent feel and a consistent softness with the horse, building those really good habits” reports Ben.

The thing to remember about a training fork, Dennis says, “is when you get off and lead the horse, if you don’t wrap the other rein around the saddle horn, (the training fork and rein) will drop to the ground. When you’re riding it works just the same as a running martingale, but when you get off the training fork will drop down.”

Running martingales have a cinch strap and rein straps with rings, like the training fork, but they also have a neck strap. All the running martingales made by Dennis Moreland have a safety hobble strap on the neck strap. “The safety hobble goes under the gullet of your saddle and over the horn. It prevents the neck strap from sliding up the neck to the poll and trapping the horse” advises Dennis.

Adjustable running martingales are made with rein straps that adjust. “If you’re riding a variety of horses, or you want to use it on an older, larger horse, you can adjust it to fit” says Dennis. “One thing I’ve done on the adjustable ones from time to time,” mentions Ben “is take one shorter and leave one longer, and if I have a situation where particularly I’m running and stopping a horse, and they tend to brace on one side, I’ll take that side shorter. When I pick my hands up, it’s a little extra pressure on one side. My hands are even and keeping them straighter” Ben say, “that’s going to help me in my training to keep the horse straighter.”

The difference between California martingales and other martingales is the placement of the rein rings. On a California martingale the rein rings are attached to the neck strap. “Dennis tells us “no matter where your hands are, this martingale helps keep the reins in position and helps to keep the horse straight.”

“No matter if we use our hands close to the horse, or out to the side, it helps us to get that horse straighter, more broke and more collected by using these training tools” says Ben.

Dennis Moreland Tack offers handmade training forks, running martingales and California martingales designed to fit well, function properly, and last for years. If you have questions about which martingale would best fit your needs write dmtack@vrfmail.com.

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