Interesting thing about "headset"... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting thing about "headset"...

This is just something interesting I thought of yesterday as I was riding Lacey...
So, I've never been interested in her having a specific "headset" and I've just kind of let her do her own thing since her musculature says to me that she's relatively moving "correctly" and she's just a trail horse.
In being "just a trail horse", I've also trained her to do everything off a loose, very draped, rein. It's very rare that I have any contact with her face and she loves that.
Back when I was first starting to ride her (2 years ago), her head was always up in the air. It got higher and higher the faster we went and her neck was never very nicely muscled. Back then I was riding her with contact all the time too.
I've been riding her without contact for at least the last 6 months, we've been in the process of getting there for the last year (I started teaching her neck rein about a year ago) and now she's finally confident enough with it that I can have a very loose rein at all gaits.
And you know what I discovered yesterday as we went for a trail ride? When I asked her to canter, her head stayed just a little above level with her withers. It was like a good, old school, WP horse level.
I was amazed. And she was totally rating herself too, it was a nice slow, yet still going somewhere, canter.
Her neck is a little cresty since she's kinda chubby, but it has really nice muscling besides the crest, like she's using it. And before you think I'm using some big curb bit or something, this was in a sidepull since Lacey cannot wear a bit comfortably. She hasn't had a bit in her mouth for a little over a year.

It really made me wonder about people who try to "force" their horses to move/hold their heads a certain way. It made me wonder what would happen if they just let their horses hold their heads wherever they want to and as the rider, engage their horse in activities that encourage their horse to work correctly. I wonder if the "correct" headset (which I know comes from engaging the rear end and all that good stuff) would just appear after a while.

Anyway, I just thought that was sort of interesting and possibly worth sharing... :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 06:12 PM
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I totally agree! Horses work better, no matter what discipline they are in, when worked at their own comfort level and left to find their own headset.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 07:46 PM
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Yep, the only headsets I ever discourage are peanut roller and head-in-lap. Much past that, most horses will keep it somewhere around level if left to their own devices.

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post #4 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 07:51 PM
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Quick question Wallaby... where is Lacey's nose? Vertical? Stuck out?.....?
I'm just curious.

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post #5 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tasia View Post
Quick question Wallaby... where is Lacey's nose? Vertical? Stuck out?.....?
I'm just curious.
I'm not sure since I was riding, but her usual way of going when she has a bridle on is with her nose just a little in front of the vertical. So I'd assume it was probably somewhere around there.
I actually wondered that myself. Too bad I can't have a little video man run alongside when I trail ride!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 08:49 PM
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thats great :)
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-24-2011, 10:17 PM
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One of the reasons I bought my old mare was the way she held her head while she was moving. It was 20 years ago, and her headset was a little higher than what was popular, but it was natural for her.

I much prefer the "natural" headset to one that has been manufactured by the style of the day...

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post #8 of 8 Old 03-25-2011, 10:33 AM
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my trainer always says - forward first, then let the horse seek the contact. whether you are in a bit, a halter, a bosal, no matter. a balanced horse will use themselves and seek out the contact and relax and engage naturally. when we try to force horses to engage is when we create "headset" and false framing. sounds to me like you have done a wonderful job allowing your horse to build her muscles without a contact by sending her forward and now that she is muscled, she is more balanced, rounder, and overall travelling better and as such carrying herself (and you) better! well done!

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