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Ruby Tuesday 08-19-2008 11:28 PM

That sagging feeling....
First off, I have to admit that I am a pure pleasure rider. Ruby apppears to be trained for the same. Well, sort of. Over the next few days/weeks I will be attempting to pinpoint areas that I would like some minor to moderate improvement on, so here we go.

There are several "back yard barns" in our immediate area, and a handful of nicer stables. Everytime we hit the trails, I particularily love seeing the other horses out riding.

One thing I have noticed is that most horses will be holding their heads atleast somewhat upright. Some horses' necks are about 20-20 degrees off of horizontal, some higher.

Ruby, well, she holds her head where her neck is more paralell to the ground. I would like her to hold her head a bit higher. would it be nice if she held her head high like a show horse? -yes, of course, but it's not necessary.

How can I train her to hold her head higher. If I walk on the ground next to her (with a lead) and force her to hold her head up, she will for a few moments, and then slouch back down. If I could get her to walk with her head in this position, I would be exstatic!

ArticMyst 08-20-2008 01:20 AM

If that is her natural head set while being ridden then I would leave it alone. That is actually what many people prefer because it means a nice relaxed horse that is content.

If you want to get her collected then her head will be more elevated and her nose will be vertical to the ground with a nice round look to her neck. A horse that is collected like this is rounded enabling it to carry a rider around more comfortably.

I'm not good at explaining how to teach collection though. I know there are plenty of good articles and info laying around if you look.;)

iridehorses 08-20-2008 06:57 AM

Ruby! Western pleasure and English Hunter riders would kill for a natural headset like that!

How old is your horse and how much/what kind of training has she had?

If she is ready to be taught collection, then, as ArticMyst suggested, that is a way to give you the look you asked for.

Teaching collection is pretty much the same whether you are riding Western or English and I like my horse in a snaffle, at least in the very beginning. Start at the halt, have firm but light contact with your horse's mouth, you hands should be low to your body. Ask her to move off but hold her slightly back. The effect will be for her rear to begin to move under herself, her front end will get light, her neck should break at the poll, and her head will go vertical as she comes into the bridle.

This does not happen all at once - it take a long time to develop collection. At first your horse will not know what you want and may start to back up. Just hold you reins and keep asking for some forward movement. What you want at this stage is for her to give to the bit and round her neck and have her face go vertical - just for a moment or two. When she does that, relax your hands somewhat but maintain contact. This all takes feel and you will need to learn what that is by having it happen. All you want at first is for her to bend somewhat at the poll to relieve the pressure from your hands and the forward movement you are asking for. The very moment that happpens, remember to relieve the pressure but still maintain your contact - don't "throw the reins away", just ease up and do it again.

After she understands what you want, then allow her to move off but still maintain contact. That is the reason why I like using a snaffle to start - I don't like a leverage bit at this stage.

A horse that is moving in a round frame in true collection will feel very light in your hands as the back end is driving rather then the front end. There is no way to describe this but sooner or latter you will feel it.

BTW, it is a good thing to teach a horse but one that has such a natural head carriage as yours, I would leave alone.

Dumas'_Grrrl 08-20-2008 10:29 AM

As Iridehorses already pointed out....That natural head carrage that you are wanting to "fix" is what a lot of us out here are after.

Is there any way to get us a picture of how she carries her head now? I would love to see it. I would LOVE to ge my boys to "relax" and head out on the trail......are you sure you want to change?

kickshaw 08-20-2008 12:22 PM

is she gaited? (gaited horse people usually prefer for the horse's head to be up)

if she is, and her head comes out naturally low (meaning she's built like that), it will be difficult to get her to bring it up (sorry, but that's the truth)

what the others have suggested about collection is corret, so i wont repeat :)

Ruby Tuesday 08-20-2008 02:20 PM

OK - delemma solved! That one was easy.

To answer questions, Ruby is 6, as far as training, we don't know. We recived her as a rescue from slaughter.

OK, what is the poll?

Next, I am unsure what you mean by gated... :oops:

If this is an acceptable posture - then I will leave it be. I was assuming that I wanted to have the same pony posture as the other riders.

I will attempt to get pictures - but no promises! It may be a bit.

ArabianAmor 08-20-2008 02:24 PM

A lot of people are too focused on head set and forget about being forward and moving from the haunches. The more you focus on their head the more you miss out on whats important. If your horse is giving you a nice forward push from behind, be grateful! Most head set is people's preference in beauty and whatever cuz they want their horse too look good. But this isn't always the case. I dont know what you could do as far as getting your horses head up but I do know that the main concern should be in the back and not in the front.
If you are really concerned about head set take a look at this article:

Good luck!!

iridehorses 08-20-2008 02:33 PM


Originally Posted by Ruby Tuesday
OK - delemma solved! That one was easy.

To answer questions, Ruby is 6, as far as training, we don't know. We recived her as a rescue from slaughter.

OK, what is the poll?

Next, I am unsure what you mean by gated... :oops:

If this is an acceptable posture - then I will leave it be.

A horse's poll is the area behind the ears where the crown of the bridle sits.

Gaited - as in Walking Horse or Paso Fino. The distinct walk that these horses have (sometimes called "*****footing")

I'm glad you decided to leave her head alone. It seems she has an easy way about her to move in that fashion.

Dumas'_Grrrl 08-20-2008 04:19 PM

This is kind of a long video but is Ruby moving like this??? If so...She may be waaaaaay further along than you imagined and you might just have a real "gem" on your hands!!!

jeddah31 08-21-2008 04:40 AM

if your a pleasure rider.. and your horse happily travels with his head at a comfortable level for herself, then dont mess with it. trail riding is about relaxing and refreshing and have some fun..your horse will not be relaxed or enjoy herslef iff her head is crammed up in the air, this will create under muscle and is unnatural for horses/ just leav eyour ponies head alone and everything will be happier :)

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