Originally Posted by Eolith
Wow, I didn't realize that this would become as big a topic as it has... though I'm glad it could become a subject of debate. I am very grateful for the advice and knowledge as well. To be clear, I never intended to imply that western riding does not involve collection or asking the horse to use its hind quarters. I am very aware that the opposite is true. I guess you could say I'm just a little gunshy given Kasja's history about how she will respond to the lower headset.
Before we got her, she was trained very much in the "rolkur" method. Because of this, she has the tendency to lean into the rider's hand. If you aren't constantly correcting her and asking her to support herself and lift her forehand, you'll literally feel as though you as the rider are attempting to support the entire head neck and shoulders of a 1200 lb horse. This is what I meant with the "fighting gravity" comment. The consequences of this include her becoming lame because the extra weight and strain aggravates the arthritis in her front pastern, she gets spookier because she feels off balance, and she begins to stumble over herself.
Thanks for the input tinyliny. Kasja has advanced enough in her dressage career that we have ridden her in a double bridle, so she is somewhat familiar with the curb action of the weymouth and she does not seem to have too much difficulty with it. I will likely begin this western riding style "testing phase" by riding her in the double bridle a few times and working on using less snaffle and more curb rein. She is very skilled at following the rider's weight and leg cues when it comes to turning and bending, so the neck reining and such should come relatively easily.
The different type of contact is what I'm questioning when it comes to Kasja remaining balanced and collected. With the curb style bit, she will not be able to lean into the rider's hand as much as she has been while riding in a snaffle. But does this mean that she will begin to carry herself a little more (which would be ideal)... or will she "nose dive" without the rider's constant reminders to pick herself up?
I guess there's really only one way to find out: I'll have to give it a shot.
First off, I guess I took your OP wrong. Sorry about that :)
I have never transitioned a horse from english to western so I may be wrong here....She will be reminded to keep herself picked up, but will not be allowed to lean on the bit. As soon as she picks herself and comes off the bit, then she is released. She will learn to stay off the bit rather than to seek it. I imagine this will be the hardest part to teach her, or it would be for me anyhow. But I agree with you, given her attentiveness to your seat and legs, neck reining will be easy for her to pick up.
As far as headset, it will not require a lower headset. In my opinion you should not force a lower headset if it is not natural. From the pic, given her conformation, she would naturally carry her head higher than a traditional QH.( just generalizing, there is even a huge difference/range within our herd of QH as far as natural headset and carriage) If she is collected and balanced it would not matter if she doesn't lope around with her nose between her knees.
And like I said before working a horse on cattle gives purpose to training. It seems to make it come together. All of a sudden they "get it" as why they need to pivot off the the hindquarters to turn with a cow as it makes them more agile. And afterwards you may find with a little crosstraining she may have renewed excitement for dressage.
I think it will be fun to play with, and I would be curious as to how she likes it! :)
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