Teaching a horse to keep it's head down?
I want to teach my horses to keep their heads down (part of western pleasure).
How do I teach them to do it, and how do I get them to keep their heads down while I'm riding??
One of my horses has a shorter, stockier neck.... can she still do it??
Any horse can walk with it's head level-headed. The horse has to be relaxed and comfortable. All horses walking along a field usually walk relaxed with their head low and down.
There are many ways to do this. Watch some videos of trainers who focus on keeping the horse calm, when they are calm, their heads will always be level with their spine. And Inverted horse is never calm and relaxed, and never can be until his neck lowers. I like how Chris Irwin explains how a horse stays calm, and how you can get him to have a level head naturally. You can watch his free video clips on www.statelinetack.com
The length of the neck isn't the concern as far as headset go's, it has more to do with where the neck attaches to the withers. If the horse has a higher set neck then it's only going to ever hold it's head so low. Does that make sense? If your horse has the conformation then it can easily do carry it's head in a western pleasure frame.
Before you concern yourself with headset though, worry about your movement and way of going. Get the forward movement and the impulsion. Once you have that the rest will follow. I do use training devices, but not everytime I ride. You have to be careful with things such as draw reins because your horse can very quickly become heavy on the forehand.
If you get the feet right the head will just fall into place where it belongs. Now this may not be the ideal position for western pleasure at advanced levels but it is still the right position for the horse.
Your question should of been how do I teach collection because with out a collected comfortable horse will keep his head down. In goes much more in depth that snapping a horses head down.
I begin with forward impulsion and working off the hind end then as they improve I add light conatct to the bridle and push forward with your legs....
GET A GOOD TRAINER!!! that in the end will help you the most than any book or post on the internet. =)
I like this question but no one ever seems to answer it.... what about when you do get the horse collected or have done whatever else that is right for the horse.... does anyone really know how to get a horse to have a low head set when all else is in place?
You don't have to worry about it if all the other pieces are in place.
You're missing the point Citrus...when everything is in place, the head should lower to a decent relaxed position given on how the horse's body allows.
I think the trouble with WP is that often there is so much exaggeration "you have to have such and such height" that alot of horses who would naturally have a little bit higher head set than desired, are forced to ride with a lower head set. It used to be that with pleasure, the head set wasn't the 'main focus'...the horse was judged on how nice of a ride he appeared to be...ie, did he appear to be a "pleasure" to ride or not...was he responsive to cues, or was he evading the bit, or rider legs, etc.
Honestly if a horse is collected, IMO there is no headset that is too high or too low...it's the collection and engagement that matters to me...if the head set is nice and low, that's a bonus.
Now if you are going to show, probably one of the things you'd have to work with is a set of draw reins, to get the horse to tuck his nose in a tad...however, that would and should come last, once collection is acheived, and only if you need the nose to come in and more break at the poll achieved.
I never have used draw reins to achieve a more tucked appearance; I like to use alot of bending and flexing; he has to bring his head down, and nose in, to flex properly, and when he does that well, you can pick him up either side, and then let him go; eventually you would be able to pick up both reins, ask for the give, and the horse would break at the poll and bring his head down and in, instead of having to do one side or the other.
So if the horse is collected it will naturally put its head down to the Western Pleasure level? If not, how would you get it lower?
If it doesn't go down low, it may not be meant to go down low...my mare, for example would never have a super low head set...her's is pretty much right at, or slightly above wither level when she is calm and relaxed...it's just the way she is built, and I would never force her to go down any lower than that, even if I did decide to show her in a pleasure class (would never be high level anyway, but that's a moot point); I'm not going to make a horse travel in an unnatural frame for show sake.
Like I said, how low a horse's head can go even when working in a good frame is going to depend on his conformation, especially with how his neck ties in with his shoulder and topline.
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