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Is this the norm in western pleasure?

This is a discussion on Is this the norm in western pleasure? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        01-09-2014, 10:23 AM
      #51
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Inga    
    The whole "go slow" thing wasn't my cup of tea either and I have always wondered too, what was the point?" but I don't criticize others for wanting to do it. I think that is one of the best things about the world of horses. There are so many different breeds and riding disciplines that there really is something for everyone and no need to do things you don't feel good about...
    Exactly - there IS something for everyone! I could just as equally ask what's the point of jumping a fence, doing a dressage pattern, or running a barrel? In fact, I'll claim the only riding that makes sense or actually has a point in this day and age is what true working ranch horses perform - being ridden to check fences, cut, sort, and rope livestock for doctoring, etc. We equestrians pursue the disciplines which appeal to each us, and hopefully we have enough sense to select the appropriate horse for the "job."

    As I said in my previous post, I truly believe that focusing on the good and humane ways of training in any discipline will encourage more people to follow suit. Don't waste energy focusing on the negatives, give those copy-cat "trainers" something GOOD to copy! If there are 2 humane training videos to every bad 1 out there, things should improve. If you want to get philosophical, "Be the change you want to see."
    Red Gate Farm likes this.
         
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        01-09-2014, 10:45 AM
      #52
    Super Moderator
    I'm sure that peanut rolling is still alive and well - as is Rolkurr and all the other stuff that goes on at home - you won't see these things at shows in the way you used too because they get the sports too much negative press
    I really admire people who actually put in the hours to train a horse correctly to go in a certain way using cues and schooling for fitness and suppleness
    I personally wouldn't like to ride a horse on the trails that had its nose a few inches off the floor - I like a horse to have its head up ahead me regardless of rein length
    I'm sure some WP horses are bred to have a naturally low head carriage but the WP horse I had here for 6 weeks had no problem riding with her head in a more normal position on an 'English contact' and after a week was riding like this even on a loose rein.
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        01-09-2014, 11:13 AM
      #53
    Yearling
    WHY is that "more normal," Jaydee? There are tons of different breeds and lines within each bread, and all naturally carry their heads differently. The western headset looks "more normal" to me based on this Paint's conformation; the english one looks stiff and braced, lol.
         
        01-09-2014, 11:48 AM
      #54
    Trained
    I think "normal" is being used in the sense of its actual meaning: "1. Usual; regular; common; typical". It is simply more common for a horse to carry its head higher than desired in WP shows.

    It would be interesting to see a study of weight distribution and footfall done on a WP bred and trained horse, vs a "normal" horse. I'd be interested to know if the WP is heavier on the front than back than is normal.
         
        01-09-2014, 12:10 PM
      #55
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsms    
    I think "normal" is being used in the sense of its actual meaning: "1. Usual; regular; common; typical". It is simply more common for a horse to carry its head higher than desired in WP shows.

    It would be interesting to see a study of weight distribution and footfall done on a WP bred and trained horse, vs a "normal" horse. I'd be interested to know if the WP is heavier on the front than back than is normal.
    Long and low is frequently used in dressage as a means to build top line and stretch the muscles.

    Quote:
    Too often in today’s dressage arenas, I see and hear riders operating with the assumption that by keeping the horse’s head and neck up in an elevated position while riding, it keeps the horse from moving with weight on the forehand. I frequently hear the instruction for riders to “get the horse off the forehand” by lifting up his head and neck. For many, this may give the false impression that the horse is now traveling uphill. In reality, according to the mechanics of his body, the horse’s neck elevation has little to do with how much weight the horse does or does not carry on his forehand. It is very possible for a horse to have an elevated neck carriage and still be on the forehand. Likewise, it is possible for a horse to travel with a low neck position and be off the forehand.

    Far more important than where his neck is positioned are the elements of looseness vs. restriction in his scapula and shoulder movement, whether the neck is properly toned vs. tense, the lift and tuck of his abdominal muscles, and the soft swinging of his back under the rider. These elements directly determine whether a horse is able to elevate his withers and draw the weight up out of his front legs. When one of these elements is not occurring properly, the best plan is to ride in a long and low frame until it is corrected.
    Try this article:
    http://jecballou.com/articles/Honest...LongandLow.pdf


    Like I said, all of my horses learn collection from the feet up, through the hindquarters, up the top line, and open the shoulder into the slack rein. I suppose most western pleasure horses happen to be built a little downhill, which could encourage them to travel on the forehand, but neck placement does not dictate traveling on the forehand if the rest of the body is moving correctly.
         
        01-09-2014, 12:34 PM
      #56
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cynical25    
    WHY is that "more normal," Jaydee? There are tons of different breeds and lines within each bread, and all naturally carry their heads differently. The western headset looks "more normal" to me based on this Paint's conformation; the english one looks stiff and braced, lol.
    That was taken the first time I rode her like that so she wasn't used to such a short rein but wasn't heavy on the hands which would = being braced, she wasn't stiff or tense and when ridden on the trails or in the manege on a loose rein with little to no contact she actually stayed in that higher headset - she didn't once show any desire to go down into that WP headset unless 'cued' to do it. When she ran loose in the field she didn't show any signs of a low neck carriage nor did she on the lunge where she had nothing to hold her head into any sort of frame
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        01-09-2014, 12:46 PM
      #57
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsms    
    I think "normal" is being used in the sense of its actual meaning: "1. Usual; regular; common; typical". It is simply more common for a horse to carry its head higher than desired in WP shows.
    But that's the thing - it may be more common for the horses YOU spend your time around. This head carriage IS normal and natural for thousands of horses I've been around since being exposed to western pleasure (and even reining and cutting) back in 1990. If it's not an Arab, Friesian, or gaited horse, a raised head looks awkward to ME.

    How is your (a general your, not bsms in particular) personal point of view more normal than the personal point of view of WP enthusiasts such as myself?
         
        01-09-2014, 12:49 PM
      #58
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    That was taken the first time I rode her like that so she wasn't used to such a short rein but wasn't heavy on the hands which would = being braced, she wasn't stiff or tense and when ridden on the trails or in the manege on a loose rein with little to no contact she actually stayed in that higher headset - she didn't once show any desire to go down into that WP headset unless 'cued' to do it. When she ran loose in the field she didn't show any signs of a low neck carriage nor did she on the lunge where she had nothing to hold her head into any sort of frame
    So from ONE experience, you've proven that ALL horses naturally want to hold their heads higher? I can't agree.
         
        01-09-2014, 01:31 PM
      #59
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    That was taken the first time I rode her like that so she wasn't used to such a short rein but wasn't heavy on the hands which would = being braced, she wasn't stiff or tense and when ridden on the trails or in the manege on a loose rein with little to no contact she actually stayed in that higher headset - she didn't once show any desire to go down into that WP headset unless 'cued' to do it. When she ran loose in the field she didn't show any signs of a low neck carriage nor did she on the lunge where she had nothing to hold her head into any sort of frame
    My horse also has his head up when turned out, but he also isn't collected when he's running around like an idiot or simply standing in the field. He even has it up when we're riding if he's not soft and collected. When he is, however, his more natural position is a level head on a draped rein. I can get him up into a Dressage type headset and on the bit while collected and soft as well, but I find he prefers a more western-geared headset when he's really working his body correctly because that's his breeding. It's not as low as some fancier WP or reining horses, but it's level and he does it himself when he's working and thinking. I've ridden plenty of dressage horses who are heavily bred for what they do and I find that they are more comfortable working correctly on the bit than the typical western bred mount is.

    Different breeding and conformation produces a different style of horse when working regardless of how they act in the field. Some carry themselves much the same way, but some don't. It depends a lot on the individual as well so I would have a hard time making a general observation that way for what it's worth. Just my opinion.
    bsms and Cynical25 like this.
         
        01-09-2014, 01:43 PM
      #60
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cynical25    
    ...How is your (a general your, not bsms in particular) personal point of view more normal than the personal point of view of WP enthusiasts such as myself?
    "Normal" can be normal for the general horse population, or normal for WP bred horses...or normal for an Arabian. To know what is intended, one has to guess from the context, or what one knows about the speaker (writer).

    This fellow discusses long and low training, and the effect of the nuchal ligament:

    "The nuchal ligament, which can be compared to a strong bungee cord, elongates assisting the upper neck muscles in their task of supporting the head and neck. The nuchal ligament replaces 55% or more of the work of the upper neck muscles at the walk. At the trot and canter, the assistance of the nuchal ligament replaces between 32 to 34% of the work of the upper neck muscles. As the horse lowers the neck, the tension of the nuchal ligament increases and the work of the upper neck muscles decreases...

    ...Neck postures are convenient short cuts promising results that are in fact the outcome of precise coordination of the horse’s physique, starting with the decelerating and propulsive activity of the hind legs and continuing with the capacity of the back muscles to convert the thrust generated by the hind legs into horizontal forces, forward movement, and vertical forces, resisting attraction of gravity and therefore balance control. Proper vertebral column mechanism allows the forelegs to propel the horse’s body upward and forward. The horse is then placing and using the neck to further enhance balance control and quality and accuracy of the limbs kinematics. Pretending that such efficient coordination can result from the lowering of the neck is fiction. The problem is that fiction does not prepare efficiently the horse’s physique for the athletic demand of the performance."

    Stretching the Neck

    By itself, stretching the neck out and extending the head forward MUST shift balance toward the front. IIRC, it increases the load on the front legs by +2%, so a horse walking with a normal 57:43 balance would go to around 59:41 - the opposite of collection, which seeks a 50:50 balance. However, a horse in motion can compensate for it by adjusting "the decelerating and propulsive activity of the hind legs and continuing with the capacity of the back muscles to convert the thrust generated by the hind legs into horizontal forces, forward movement, and vertical forces, resisting attraction of gravity"..and so on.

    That is why I think most non-experts, including a recreational rider like myself, should concentrate on the back instead of the head. When riding, does the horse feel relaxed, loose, free? Does the horse feel like he is comfortable? I think it is fairly easy to feel if the horse has shifted its balance to the rear or not, or if the back is supple or tight. You can then ride strengthening or suppling exercises to condition the horse to be stronger and more supple - and let the head go where the horse needs it for its build and its conditioning. A good rider can ask for a different head position to help the horse learn that position X is more comfortable, but I think there are a lot fewer "good riders" than there are "riders who think they are good".

    My Arabian mare would be unbalanced if she tried to move in a WP style. I'll grant a WP-bred horse might well be uptight and unhappy if moving like Mia does on her good days. I do dislike the idea of trying to force a headset on any horse, unless one is already riding at a very high level. With rare exceptions, I think "normal" riders should ride the back and not the head - which includes not judging another rider's horse by its head position.
    2BigReds likes this.
         

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