Hey there fellow horse owner! Loving and training our horses is such a great joy in our lives. But, I think we can all take a moment and be honest for a second. While working with horses is incredibly rewarding, the amount of choices we have to make can be very overwhelming. Even with access to your trainer 24/7, there are still hundreds of small decisions we are always making. Even the most reliable and trained horses require lots of preparation. And the young horses? It makes you dizzy trying to decide what equipment works best for your bright-eyed four year old.
The fact of the matter is there’s no one size fits all approach to determining what’s best for your horse. And as if riding isn’t enough, there are new types of equipment being promoted daily from top trainers and influencers. One person recommends lunging in their holy grail lunging system before every ride and swears by the results. Another uses martingales tactfully to enhance their horses under saddle performance. Sure their horses look great, but how do you know what equipment actually works best for your program?
At Equine Outfitters LLC, we want to make your options clear while providing you with all the important information. Instead of experimenting with different equipment, we have put together an informative description of our lunging and riding equipment. We want to make sure you have all the information needed to make informed decisions regarding your horse’s training program. Continue reading our guide for our favorite lunging and riding equipment.
Horse Lunging Equipment Demystified
Today we will explain each type of lunging equipment and the differences so owners (like you!) can make fully informed decisions. For years we have known about the benefits of lunge work. It’s a fantastic way to allow the horse to balance itself without the rider’s influence. While it’s great to lunge, it’s overwhelming with all the different products on the market. We handpicked four types of common lunging equipment to help you make the best decision. Those types of equipment are side reins, lunging ropes, a lunging system, and neck stretchers. We are going to explain the use and purpose of these pieces of equipment so you can make the most informed decision for your horse.
*We do want to mention the importance of using a well fitted snaffle bit and bridle while lunging. Lunging cavesson’s are also recommended but you can also just use a lunge line attached to the bridle.
How to Use Side Reins When Lunging
Elastic side reins are a user friendly and common type of horse lunging equipment. They are generally used for teaching young horses how to use their bodies and learn contact, or older horses that need help building their top lines. We do this by connecting the side reins to the surcingle or saddle and back to the bit. When set evenly, it teaches the horse to allow their neck to be placed correctly and use its hind end. It changes the horse’s balance so it can use its topline muscles and build better strength. When the horse puts its head too high, the side reins activate and release when the horse lowers its neck. When the horse lowers its neck, the side reins become softer and reward the horse for its participation.
To use side reins, you will either need a surcingle or girthed saddle, a bridle and a lunge line. The side reins are a long line that loops through the girth or surcingle and connects back at the bit. The ones we carry at Equine Outfitters LLC are elastic which allows the horse freedom in their movement while encouraging a proper carriage. These side reins have many length settings which allows a perfect fit for your horse.
How to Use a Horse Neck Stretcher
Similar to the side reins, neck stretchers are another great tool for creating a balanced neck. The neck stretcher works similarly with the buckle attaching at the girth, but instead of just attaching to the bit, it goes through the bit and over the poll. This is great for horses that respond well to poll pressure. The beauty of this specific neck stretcher is that it’s created with elastic. This is fantastic for sensitive horses because it offers a softer response when pressure is applied.
What is an European Lunging Rope?
The European lunging rope is very unique in its mechanics. By design, it encourages horses to relax their neck and back muscles while working in the lunging rope. It’s great for horses that accept contact but need assistance with stretching long and low. One fantastic benefit for horse owners is that it doesn’t require a surcingle, saddle or saddle pad. You can just put it on, attach to the bit, and you’re good to go.
One mistake that’s commonly made is the rope is too tight. If the tension is too taught then it’ll put pressure on the withers, behind the shoulder, and encourage the horse to drop onto its forehand. The rope needs to be loose enough to allow the horse to have flexibility with its balance, but not so much that it isn’t moving properly. As the horse learns to move with a better balance, the horse will develop a deeper stretch over the topline.
The Equine Lunging System
This lunging system was created to help horses build better strength and balance while out of the saddle. The goal is to encourage the horse to tuck their pelvis and lift their back, while the neck stays in a balanced position. Unlike side reins or other lunging equipment, this highly flexible system works on the entire horse. It’s a fantastic stand alone tool that is perfect for short lunge sessions alongside your normal routine, or to help a horse come back into work with better posture.
We do recommend either carefully reading the instructions or recruiting an experienced person to help assist the first time you use it. Between the levers, pulleys and rump strap, it looks pretty daunting. Luckily it was created in a way that is simple to use while being highly beneficial to the horse. You’ll get the hang of it quickly and will see your horse’s condition improve over time.
Different Types of Horse Martingales
With the lunging equipment out of the way, we also want to explain the benefits of under saddle equipment. The most popular types are martingales. Martingales are great tools that can help engage the horses bodies on the flat and over fences. Like the lunging equipment, we do want to stress the importance of using well fitted snaffles and rein stoppers (like these) when using any equipment that affects the bit.
What is a Standing Martingale?
Commonly used in the hunter ring, the standing martingale’s goal is to limit the length and height of the horse’s neck. It does this by activating when the horse tries to exceed the limitation of the standing martingale’s length. When the horse feels the resistance on the noseband, it will give to the pressure and remain in a nicer carriage. This can be used on the flat but also alongside jumping.
To use the standing martingale, you attach the big looped end through the center of your horse’s girth, secure the large circle opening around the base of the neck, then attach the small loop to the horse’s noseband.
Benefits of the Running Martingale
The second type of martingale is the running martingale. This martingale is used in the show jumping ring and in dressage training. It has similar attachment points to the standing martingale except it connects to each rein instead of the noseband. The goal of this martingale is to limit the length of the neck and encourage the horse to step under with their hind legs. When the horse goes against the rein, the martingale engages and mechanically tells the horse to bring its neck down and lift their back. While jumping, it’s wonderful for encouraging the horse’s bascule and to rebalance after each fence. This is super helpful in a jump off when every second counts!
For the rider that loves the running martingale but wants the security of a breast plate, the five point breastplate is a perfect choice. You get all the benefits of the running martingale while keeping the saddle from shifting back. It’s great for eventers with the constant terrain changes or jumpers that want to ensure their saddle stays in place. The five point at Equine Outfitters LLC is anatomically fit and comes with gel padding to prevent chafing.
How to Use a German Martingale
Our last martingale is the leather german martingale. The purpose of the german martingale is to encourage high-headed or strong horses to round their necks while under saddle. German martingales are quite interesting looking when they come out of the box. They look like a combination of a standing martingale, regular reins and side reins. How it works is much simpler than it looks. The rein connects to the bit like normal. When the horse is soft and responding to the rein quietly, the martingale has no pressure. When the horse gets strong or goes above the bit, the martingale engages and puts pressure until the horse softens its neck down. Its action is simple pressure and release and is quite soft compared to other equipment like tie downs.
We do want to emphasize that the german martingale is not show legal and can only be used in training situations. It also needs to be used by experienced riders and horses that are used to rein contact, along with pressure and release. Otherwise you could end up in a dicey situation if used incorrectly.
We hope this guide to different types of riding and lunging equipment was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us at: email@example.com