The heads are too low in pleasure, a lot of the time. And they SHOULD be disqualified for it with the new rulings, but judges like to look the other way. ;)
Once the horse breaks at the withers, the weight falls on the forehand (unless he's lifting at the base of the neck like in a 'long and low' dressage frame--but then he wouldn't be 'breaking' at the withers, either). It doesn't matter if it's natural, or not--My horse LOVES plodding around with his head by his knees.
And it doesn't make it okay. This isn't about 'unnatural' and 'natural'--this is about good performance and bad.
In order for the horse to transfer his weight to the hind end and move in a nice frame for showing, his neck HAS to be level, or he has to be lifting at the base of the neck (which you hardly EVER see in a WP class). Judges are beginning to place horses with more level necklines--not because of the height, but because those horses 'look better'. Because they can carry themselves in a better frame.
You'll still see stupid trainers TRAINING the horse to put it's head down below it's withers, but it's slowly being phased out.
Dressage in Jeans
- My blog with dressage tips for happy, relaxed horses, specifically for those who ride dressage in western saddles, no saddles, cowboy boots, or jeans. ;) Also now with cute pygmy goat pictures! :P