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tbrantley 12-06-2011 07:30 PM

Need suggestions on how to improve my horse head set.
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Here is a picture of my horse racking. I am told that he noses out to much. What does that mean, and how do I go about fixing it?

Northern 12-06-2011 08:02 PM

Please don't listen to others on "headset": the horse always does the best he can with his head & neck for the movement that he's executing with his body! Who but the horse knows what he needs to do with the lever of head & neck, when you think about it? If you read/hear any authoritative words on the subject, they'll say this. I suggest that you read classical literature on the subject & find for yourself that this is so, as well as let common sense tell you that the horse knows best what to do with head & neck.

The horse has difficulty with bad riding (confused signals, harsh hands, etc.), so he's just trying to stay in balance under the onslaught of that, thus his head & neck aren't going to be prettily arched under bad riding. The way to fix that is NOT to force him into a headset, but to LEAVE his head alone, for starters!

Also, the vertical profile is another false ideal: your horse's nose will naturally be in front of his forehead if you leave it alone; & this is therefore to be left alone!

All of the interference for a "headset" only puts the horse on the forehand, thus compromises his emotional contentment & physical soundness.

Focus on your core, legs, seat, weight aids, in addition to your mental connection/partnership with him, which are natural aids for the horse & leave his head alone, for your horse's sake!

Later in your journey, there is the mechanical help of the horse in in-hand galloping, where you help the horse circle his energy & not fall on the forehand in the gallop, but that has nothing to do with a headset: his nose is out in front & you're just aiding him!

Good luck!

sarahver 12-06-2011 08:16 PM

If you want to set his head you will need some plaster and a mold.

If you want him to lower his head softly and come into your hands you will need to encourage him to use his hindquarters.

Northern explained it more eloquently :wink:

tbrantley 12-06-2011 08:34 PM

I am taking it from your comments that there is nothing wrong with my horses head set.
I am new to riding gaited horses and still confused on how to ride them. In the picture it is a friend riding my horse. He has had more experience with riding gaited horses. I personally just let m horse go and do his own thing. I like the way he moves and was very happy until someone with a lot more knowledge about gaited horses informed me that my horse nosed out. The person made it sound like my horse was doing something really bad and I was awful for letting him get by with it.

I thought it was something that I needed to fix before I ruin the gait of my horse.

Thank you for your information.

Northern 12-06-2011 08:57 PM

LOL, sarah!

OP, you're most welcome; we're happy to help a sincere person to protect & help his horse!

Please be advised that there are many self-proclaimed experts in the horse world who will give you ruinous advice!

As a horseman once said, [paraphrase] "People talk about horse whispering, but what you really need to do is listen to the horse!"

A practical suggestion for you & horse at this stage: Put horse in smallish arena, drape the rein (no contact), V your hands over the base of its neck, & allow horse to walk wherever it wants, while you practice developing an independent seat, meaning a seat which can sit the horse independent of hanging on the reins for balance. So, you just flow in your core & body with the horse's walk, & push yourself back into his back if you start to lose your balance.

You only ask the horse to carry on in the gait you choose, no steering. When you're good at the walk, try it at trot, etc. Don't try & PREVENT a break of gait: ALLOW the break of gait, then just gently ask horse to resume gait. Horses adore this practice, which relieves them of being micro-managed & gives them a say! :)

trailhorserider 12-06-2011 09:22 PM

So Northern, do you disagree with these threads?

I'm not trying to challenge you. I just had the same concerns that tbrantley has and some very experienced people have told me that allowing a horse to travel hollow is not good for their long-term soundness. I have also researched some info on the internet and bought several gaited horse books that seem to say the same thing. Hollow is not good. So I am just wondering what your reasoning is. I'm not saying your are wrong, but if you feel you are right, can you explain why?

It would sure as heck be easier to just let the horse travel any way they wanted to. But in the quest for proper horsemanship, it seems sometimes in the horse and rider's best interest to adjust the way they carry themselves.

Northern 12-06-2011 10:14 PM

Thanks for an UNantagonistic question!

I didn't mean to imply that traveling hollow-backed is ok (thought about getting into that more, but chose not to write a treatise :)) The bad riding is what causes all of the hollow-backed, star-gazing, etc. horse issues, excepting, of course, a green colt who's going to do these at first even with an expert rider.

The OP needs to study all that he can to learn about the adjustments that a horse needs to learn to make to carry a rider, & about how the horse must be gymnasticised & helped to find his balance under the rider. This, in addition to interaction with/listening to the horse, such as in Pushing Passenger lesson. That's a lot, but that increase in knowledge & skill is what's required.

I'll add that I'm no expert on gaited horses, (never ridden one, just enjoyed watching "Rack on!") but I'd say that the gaitedness rather compounds the confusion for a novice, yet isn't insurmountable, since the horse still has the same frame as any horse.

Hope this helps!

trailhorserider 12-06-2011 11:12 PM

No problem.

I was kind of like "wait a second, just when I think I have things figured out you're telling me to let the horse do whatever he wants!?" So thanks for clearing that up. :D

I have bought a few horses that seem to put their heads in the air whenever they feel bit contact and it took a little while to get them to trust me that I could make contact and they wouldn't have to put their heads up. I think that is from past riders being heavy handed.

Now gaited horses I am new with, so I am still figuring out what kind of level of collection/head set I am aiming for. Because my Fox Trotter tends to put her head up and nose out too (when gaiting).

But I think the basic concept of hollow vs. rounded is easy even for a beginner to understand. And I think that is what the OP was referring to when he/she said they were told the horse noses out too much. At least that is what I see in the photo- a hollow horse, correct?

Northern 12-06-2011 11:36 PM

Yes, the poor guy is definitely hollow-backed there.

tbrantley 12-07-2011 08:01 AM

:-| Okay, now I am totally confused. My problem is not by horses headset but he is hollow back. I have know clue what that means. How do I go about improving on that. Please Help!!!:oops:

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