Sounds like something is wrong, if he was just bolshy he would be trying to shove you with his head or itch his face on you. Perhaps someone has whacked him round the face with a halter before, or done Parelli to him?
First off, get his back, teeth and eyesight checked, and get him trotted up to be soundness scored.
Then, if the vet can't find anything, ride him in a headcollar. I know it's nice and proper to get them perfect on the ground first, but just get on him. Horses are so much more settled when they are in proper work, and he can't shove you around when you're on him, you can start to suss him out undersaddle. This isn't just my own advice, I worked for an international eventer who did a lot with 'problem horses', and he drilled it into me.
What bit was he in? If it was something horrible, like a straight bar or something with shanks, who can blame him? You basically need to treat him as you would a youngster who had never been bridled, starting small and getting him used to each component of the bridle, the bit last. When you do bit him, use a happy mouth snaffle, and progress onto a loose ring french link in sweet iron when he is ready.
Sorry, but you obviously know nothing about Parelli or Nh at all. To even use whacking around his face or done parrelli is a comparison like that is, IMO, a bit ignorant.
I also agree whole heartedly with the majority here, who say that you should do more ground work, get him respecting you and listening to you, then get on, and do it slowly. I am a bit cautious, and perhaps done find the ground as appealing as Levade.
I happen to have one who does the same thing whith his head, not badly, but just rather unexpectedly at times. Throws it in the air. He can be standing there nearly sleeping, and I go to touch him-and the head flies up. It is a bit better after a year of owning him, but it has taken time. I also make him lower his head and relax when he gets high=headed, which helps. You have to start with pressure on the poll with one hand, and gentle downward pressure on the lead with the other. The slightest drop of the head-release the pressure, pet him, praise him and do it again. Before long, that head will go right down with the slightest pressure on the poll.