Whether you're a recreational rider or a consistent show participant, training bridles and bits are effective tools to develop your horse's feel and responsiveness while giving the horse a bit of support to their everyday riding tack and training. It easily reinforces your training while riding casually.
With the decision to just go for a ride and enjoy the beautiful late spring weather, you don't want to bother with your usual show or work bridle with all of it's training additions. It takes too much time to assemble and it's just a casual ride after all.
I developed this 2 piece training equipment team in my search for ways to speed up training and make it easier for me to reinforce the arena training while I was giving client's horses some training on the trail. Trying to maximize my riding time into training time.
Also referred to as a training bit with a german martingale, this 2 piece partnership of equipment is setup similarly to a traditional bit and martingale but uses the principle of multi-pressure points that feel to your horse more like a natural horsemanship type halter and medium shanked bit.
It consists of a regular headstall with a multi-ringed combination bit (here I'm using a Myler low port 3-ring combo for multi-training purposes) and the western style german martingale. The martingale's rope split fork is run through the top bit ring near the side of the mouthpiece and comes around to attach to one of 3 tiny D-rings on the western split reins. The western reins are simply attached to the bit in one of the 3 bit rings depending on the training level of your horse (I use snaps for a quick-change) and what you want to be reinforcing in their training while on your ride through the country side.
How It Differs
The difference between this setup and your regular bridle-bit-martingale combo is that the german martingale works on a pulley system compared to other martingales liking the running or standing martingale.
The positioning of the reins on the multi-ring combination bit, will give you either a snaffle effect on the top ring (shared with the rope split fork), the medium ring for a short shanked curb bit result or the bottom rein position for a medium shanked curb bit effect.
So how to incorporate this training equipment and practises into your everyday riding? It can turn your trail ride, cool out or non-training ride into a very positive reinforcement of your work.
How To Make It Work For You
The multi-ringed training bit, with a snap attached to the end of the rein, can allow for quick changes between the snaffle, short shank and medium shank positions of the bit. This allows for good responses to problems on the ride.
I use a Myler combination bit because the 3-ring shank has a stopper and acts like a small pulley. The Myler bit also has a unique system where the curb strap and noseband are 1 piece of nylon so they work together instead of separately with other nosebands.
When the reins are picked up by the rider, the Myler bit will apply pressure in several places along the poll, noseband, curb strap and mouth before going to the tongue. the mouthpiece will slide along part of the top ring to give a presignal to the horse before stopping at the stopper. At which point the mouthpiece will put pressure on the tongue. This works great with the german martingale. It's so effortless for the rider and oh, so helpful for the horse. A rider's hands can be so light.
The pulley-system type martingale will teach the horse where to set their head and work on removing resistance while you are merely enjoying your time among the heather and hills. There is little work to do for the rider as the split fork does all the work.
The rope split fork of the martingale when run through the top ring of the bit comes around and attaches to 1 of 3 tiny D-rings on the western reins. These 3 positions allow for 3 different head positions. The first position closet to the bit will allow the horse to get used to the feel of the pulley and asks for a small amount of giving to the vertical. Of course it also depends on how much the rider lengthens or shortens their hands on the reins.
The 2nd position teaches the horse the proper way to give to bit pressure, how to carry their head and how to respond properly to cues.
The 3rd position will really work on the horse's head set. This is good for really high headed horse's who have a tendency to pull the reins out of a rider's hands. The rider simply sets the split fork at the right D-ring rein attachment and enjoys their ride.
A simple change of equipment helps to get a fresh perspective on your horse's skills. It might also point out where the rider can make positive changes as well.
Simply attach your training combination bit and german martingale and enjoy your day! Oh yeah! How to cheat your training? Well. Doing it while riding for leisure is great fun! It kinda feels like cheating - though not really.
Putting my spin on multi-tasking while basking in the sunlight.