Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Why do you ride him in a martingale if he keeps his head low? Martingales are to prevent horses from throwing their heads up in the air or stargazing. If your horse keeps his head low there's no need for one. Martingales work fine with eggbutt rings, so no problem there even if you did need one.
I'm not keen on the term "frame" or "frame up". It suggests that we're getting the horse to move within a box. The aim should be to get the horse working correctly and engaging its back end, so that it's not falling onto the forehand or leaning on the bit. Different horses work in different ways - some Arabs, for example, will never get their head lower and some heavy breeds can't get their face on the vertical, but that doesn't mean they aren't working correctly.
I'm not familiar with WP horses but I understand they perform slow gaits with their heads held quite low, and plenty that I've seen in photographs seem to be very much on the forehand (not bagging the discipline, they may have been trained incorrectly for all I know). If you want your horse to lighten its forehand you will need to start asking for more impulsion from the back end, through your legs and seat. Your horse may never have the desired "frame", however if it can be encouraged to work in a light and correct manner then the best possible outcome has been achieved.