Worth buying a fancy martingale (Edgewood, etc.)?

Any thoughts on whether it is worth it to buy a fancy martingale to show in rather than just using the Dover or Smartpak type ones? Do the nice ones really look that much better going around the show ring? Thanks!

I doubt you can see the difference from where the judges sit.


Visually you probably won’t be able to tell much from a distance, but my Edgewood martingale has been looking great for almost 20 years… I wouldn’t feel confident saying the same for a Dover or Smartpak one.


Visually, it doesn’t matter. I love nice tack but 90% of martingales I’ve owned or used are chronically filthy where it sits against the mane and drives me insane. It kills me to see fancy martingales like that. So cheap ones it is!

Or you could… clean the martingale? Or the mane? Or both?

If it was me the filth would bother me no less on a cheap martingale. I wipe down my tack after every ride and I have not noticed this phenomenon (can’t promise the horse’s mane is always spotlessly clean, I know my limitations, LOL).


I’m crazy about turn out. The martingale gets cleaned. Obsessively. Mane also cleaned (less obsessively). Show martingales fair better than daily use martingales but it’s only a matter of time. I do a lot of catch riding and it’s definitely not just me. I’ve noticed it in beautifully turned out animals. Unless it’s my gloves?? Now you’ve got me concerned I really did think this was a universal problem.

Eh I have this problem too with decently nice tack (Aramas brand) - the martingale just tends to get gross where the reins lay against it especially if I’m riding inside where our footing can get a bit dusty if it’s been a day since it was watered. Comes right off when I clean it but it’s not just you.

My various bridles and reins pick up dust and crud at different rates. It might relate to conditioning product. I don’t see a strong correlation to age of tack, quality of tack, or type of leather. One bridle is always coated in dust grunge one ride after deep cleaning.

I am VERY sparing with conditioner and everyone else I know who is not DOES have crud build up on tack (not just martingales). I clean with diluted ammonia and it takes the crud off before it can solidify into a jockey.

A girl rode my horses for a while and would clean and condition with something after she rode. She never wiped the soap off and whatever she put on top left it so sticky and gunky-- everything was attracted to it. I took it home, literally stripped the darn thing and carefully scraped off the grime, lightly oiled, let it dry, and brought it back and was like “I appreciate the effort but just wipe it down with my ammonia solution, please don’t use anything else” and it went back to normal. I am sure what she was using was a commercial tack product. That is probably at least part of the issue. A lot of the conditioners are just not made to be glopped on regularly and you periodically HAVE to really strip that stuff down with something like diluted ammonia. Otherwise it’s layers of gunk on layers of gunk and it gets a film on the tack that is a magnet for dirt.

Now, when do I deep clean the mane? I dunno… every couple months, that’s not my favorite thing.

But I still don’t have a buildup issue on tack so I really think the problem is either the products or the lack of regular cleaning with something that breaks down conditioner/gunk like diluted ammonia.

If it’s for showing, I like to get the same brand (and color and style) as my bridle - but no it doesn’t actually matter :rofl:


In my opinion, yes. It’s softer and lasts longer. I LOVE good tack. Try buying it used. :blush:


Every time you clean? Or just for a deep clean? I have never heard of this, I would think it would dry out the leather quite a bit.

Yes! I’m an advocate of high quality tack but second hand, not only is it more affordable, already broken in but way more sustainable then regularly purchasing things that don’t make you happy. Sure a low cost martingale might do the job but wouldn’t you rather look down at your horses neck and see a beautiful high quality piece of leather? Especially if you can find for a reasonable second hand price?


Every ride. Very diluted. But every ride. Been doing this for decades and still have bridles from the 90s that are going strong.

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Now I’m craving a deep cleaning of all of my tack. What’s your recipe?

Well that might be the problem. I do stay away from conditioners and anything that attracts dirt but I’ve always been too chicken to try the ammonia.

Nothing fancy. I don’t really measure. Probably 1 part ammonia to 10 parts water. I use a spray bottle and a really nubby washcloth. Post ride I undo all the buckles/keepers, spray some solution on the washcloth, and wipe down with enough elbow grease so that the leather isn’t “wet” after wiping. Then rebuckle and I’m done. Every couple months (more for newer tack) I will do a deep clean and oil but I rarely rarely use “conditioner.” I save that for really unusually thirsty tack— like a bridle that got rained on or similar. But I don’t regularly condition using anything that is a solid/gel at room temperature. I use oil most of the time to add suppleness back. Not waxy products.


i have both a dover one (circuit maybe-can’t recall name, it’s over 10 years old) and an edgewood. i like my Dover one better. it is smaller despite being horse sized. i think sizing plays a role in your decision more than anything

I think you might be right about the sizing. I bought a Dover Circuit bridle and martingale for a summer lease (with a person I didn’t want using my high end bridles) and found both to be a bit smaller than my horse size Antares, Beval Heritage, even my Hadfields which runs small.

I stopped using glycerine and similar products on my tack because I find it attracts dust, etc. and stick to liquid cleansers like Effax Leder Combi or Belvoir Tack Cleaner (Step 1) which also comes in a handy spray now. I’m not a fan of ammonia, the fumes are overpowering, it’s hell on my hands if I don’t wear gloves and while it will get rid of all kinds of gunk, I don’t let my tack get dirty enough to need it.

I am not in the Hunter or American World.

To me it means more if you show with no martingale. To use a running martingale means that you think you your horse is going to raise it’s head and take off with you.

A standing martingale I just shake my head when it is used for jumping. They were banned in our ponyclub