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.