My pony is very relaxed (definitely not lazy, but chill) and just pretty decent at western pleasure because of that.
He is bred for WP, but I can't seem to get him to hold his head low at a lope. I know he can do it, because at a walk he has a good, very slightly above level headset but he seems to lose that at a trot or lope. (when he's unusually tired or relaxed, he holds it low at the trot but almost never at the lope.)
What are some things I can do to lower his headset at the trot/lope without it looking unnatural? I have thought it might just be his natural head carriage, but looking at videos of his sire and dam, I really don't think that's the case! Plus on the lunge line, he has a nice level headset at all gaits.
When you lunge him, is he tacked or untacked? If you normally lunge untacked, I'd try lunging tacked and see if the way he carries his head changes. If not, I'd try lunging with a rider, with no reins (assuming that the person lunging is experienced in lunge line lessons, and that the horse lunges well) and see if the head position changes then. If it changes at all in either circumstance, I'd look at your saddle fit.
If it doesn't, then other things could come into play. Do you ride with a relaxed seat? Are you nervous at all, or tense? Are you picking at him for little imperfections at the canter? Any of these things can cause his head to come up when it wouldn't normally.
I agree with Calico.
do you ever canter him out, like in the arena? I mean canter fast and long , enough that he actually gets tired? do that for a bit, then ask him to lope and he'll likely put his head ncie and low, as long as you dont' try too hard to force him
saddle fit is a real concern in these casses , especially if it impedes shoulder movement.
(sorry, I can't type worht beans!)
Check saddle fit, bridle fit and bit fit. Check him for pain. Something could be going on physically causing him to need to stick his head up.
If its not a tack or pain issue then it's a hole in his training. Lots of suppling and bending. He may not understand what you're asking. You'll need eyes on the ground to help.
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sometimes its just the fact that they haven't built the muscles up to carry their head so low and a slow lope, because that was the case for my horse. So go back to two hands and wiggle his head down at the lope (but do it more as if it was an english canter... so a bit fast and with more impulsion) and then its just consistency... every time it pops up you bring it back down. Don't fight over it though or youll end up with a very angry horse. So when he drops his head, you release the pressure on the reins. Once he can carry his head consistently and the canter try to bring him back to a western pleasure lope (still two handed)
also what you can do is work alot of bending to the inside, to the outside, shoulder in/ out, hauches in/ out, side passes, leg yeilds, and small 10 meter circles just off your leg
You don't ride the head....you ride the body. People get SO hung up on headsets, where the fix REALLY is NOT manipulating the head, but driving the horse forward into your hands. And by doing this, with a WP horse, the head will go where it should based on the conformation. Wiggling the reins does nothing...it only works the head and creates a "false frame." You HAVE to get drive with the hock and lift with the back. That comes from your legs not your hands. Otherwise you end up with a horse on the forehand, dragging itself along, a hollow back and the hocks trailed out behind. WP is NOT about the head, it's about correct use of body.
Get him broke in the body and using his legs right and his head will go where it needs to go.
Where a horse is carrying his head is the last thing to worry about.
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