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... :)