Opinions on Headset Expectations - The Horse Forum
 113Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 366
• Horses: 0
Opinions on Headset Expectations

I've heard many different opinions from different people regarding horse headset, and I'm just curious to see what others think here. Some of the most common ones I've heard, not that I specifically agree with any in particular:

1) Any horse, so long as it is relaxed and balanced, should naturally hold its head below its withers (hunters, reining, etc). Nose-tucking or low headset by human force is not acceptable. A horse should never be forced into stretching low, but any horse always will so long as it is comfortable. Warwick Schiller has mentioned things like this quite a few times. A horse that raises its head, such as in jumping, is doing so because it is not relaxed.

2) Every horse needs to have its head either below the withers and/or at the vertical in order to develop topline. If a horse doesn't hold its head and neck in a set position, it won't develop a topline. And if a horse doesn't put their head there on their own, they need to be trained to. I see this most in dressage.

3) A horse can have its head wherever it wants, so long as the horse is comfortable. It is completely dependent upon breed or genetics as to where the horse naturally prefers its head to be, but there is no "wrong" headset as long as it is not caused by pain. I hear this most from trail or endurance riders.

What's your opinion on the subject? I expect this might be controversial, so I'll say now I'm not trying to turn this into an argument, but would like some reasoning behind whatever is said. Thanks!
Aprilswissmiss is offline  
post #2 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 01:59 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southeast
Posts: 8,628
• Horses: 0
My opinion is the terminology is not correct.

Head set is just that, setting the head and not worrying about the rest of the body. This is commonly the mistake people make, confusing it with a frame or even confusing it with collection.

A frame encompasses the entire body, not just the head. There are different frames depending on what the horse is being asked to do. This is easiest to see in Dressage teaching, as the frame clearly changes as the horse advances up the levels.

The correct frame for a HUS and a reining horse are not the same. The correct frame for a driving horse and a racing horse are not the same. etc.
AnitaAnne is online now  
post #3 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 06:15 AM
Yearling
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,297
• Horses: 0
Well, I am not even close to an expert, but I firmly believe that "frame" is heavily influenced by the breed and conformation. I would hate to see what would it take for a Frisian to "relax" into what I imagine a Western frame to be. What I did find is that horses used for a particular discipline will generally have a compatible conformation for it. Lusitanos are easy to put into a typical Lusitano frame, quarter horses prefer to travel with their head down and so forth. People run into trouble when they try to force it.

Also, looking at racing TBs - there is no mention of any sort of frame there but we cannot argue that they aren't extremely fit and athletic.
Likewise, endurance horses. No way they are going to cover those distances if the rider tries to force an uncomfortable body position on them.

Basically, pick a discipline, get a horse suitable for it.
Or the other way around, whichever you prefer.
Just don't get a Frisian and try and make it into a Western pleasure horse.
bsms, gottatrot and Dustbunny like this.
Horsef is offline  
post #4 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 07:00 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 6,893
• Horses: 4
An unforced headset is ALWAYS, regardless of where, the result of how the horse is working through its body, in addition to the horse's conformation. A lower set neck (such as in many Quarter Horses) lends itself to a lower natural headset. Additionally, dressage and jumping require lift and push from the hind end, resulting in elevation of the forequarters - hence the higher headset - whereas WP, cow work, HUS etc prefers flatter movement, and thus, a lower headset, due to lack of elevation.
AnitaAnne and Foxhunter like this.

MAKORA THOROUGHBRED SPORTHORSES
blue eyed pony is offline  
post #5 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 07:33 AM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: SW UK
Posts: 15,219
• Horses: 0
I hate the word 'head set' sounds as if you hold the horse's head in a position and pour concrete around it to hold it in place!

AnitaAnne put it correctly.
Foxhunter is offline  
post #6 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 07:50 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,179
• Horses: 2
Good thread. My daughter and I have been having this conversation about Rusty. I'm a lot more lenient than she is so when I ride him, I maintain contact, but he keeps a more natural head position. When she rides him, she holds the reins tight and he is in a more dressage-y frame. It looks nice, but he doesn't look comfortable (head is bent in so nose is behind the vertical). However, he rounds her back and collects more for her. I think the best position is probably somewhere in between.

I don't like horses that keep their head below the withers, it makes me feel like I'm going to go over their neck, but that's just my preference. Rusty will only do this at the end of a ride, when I encourage him to stretch long and low. He naturally holds his head high.
keelan likes this.
Acadianartist is offline  
post #7 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 07:53 AM
Showing
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
Posts: 13,736
• Horses: 9
2 pics, the chestnut & the grey, show a typical Arabian "head set". The 3rd is of a stock horse and his typical "head set". None was forced, all were trained. As long as a horse is accepting the bit, accepting contact and rounded up and working from back to front, I'm not real concerned with headset or frame, it will come as the horse builds muscle memory. In the beginning, the horses can't carry that, so they have to be ridden in short intervals to allow them time to build the necessary muscles to work the way you're wanting them to.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cloney Huntseat.jpg (110.6 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Amerikan Beauty WP, Arabian.jpg (34.2 KB, 94 views)
File Type: jpg Ducati Pinto Worlds.jpg (188.0 KB, 7 views)
waresbear and ClearDonkey like this.

Dreamcatcher Arabians is offline  
post #8 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 10:48 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southeast
Posts: 8,628
• Horses: 0
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Good thread. My daughter and I have been having this conversation about Rusty. I'm a lot more lenient than she is so when I ride him, I maintain contact, but he keeps a more natural head position. When she rides him, she holds the reins tight and he is in a more dressage-y frame. It looks nice, but he doesn't look comfortable (head is bent in so nose is behind the vertical). However, he rounds her back and collects more for her. I think the best position is probably somewhere in between.

I don't like horses that keep their head below the withers, it makes me feel like I'm going to go over their neck, but that's just my preference. Rusty will only do this at the end of a ride, when I encourage him to stretch long and low. He naturally holds his head high.
In another thread, your DD had Harley going beautifully. Meant to comment on it at the time...maybe I did???

Anyway, she is used to riding on contact and collected, on a horse with a naturally higher head. Because of her riding skills, she will quickly and naturally ask any horse she rides to work in a rounder frame.
Acadianartist likes this.
AnitaAnne is online now  
post #9 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 10:56 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southeast
Posts: 8,628
• Horses: 0
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Well, I am not even close to an expert, but I firmly believe that "frame" is heavily influenced by the breed and conformation. I would hate to see what would it take for a Frisian to "relax" into what I imagine a Western frame to be. What I did find is that horses used for a particular discipline will generally have a compatible conformation for it. Lusitanos are easy to put into a typical Lusitano frame, quarter horses prefer to travel with their head down and so forth. People run into trouble when they try to force it.

Also, looking at racing TBs - there is no mention of any sort of frame there but we cannot argue that they aren't extremely fit and athletic.
Likewise, endurance horses. No way they are going to cover those distances if the rider tries to force an uncomfortable body position on them.

Basically, pick a discipline, get a horse suitable for it.
Or the other way around, whichever you prefer.
Just don't get a Frisian and try and make it into a Western pleasure horse.
You are correct. Pick a suitable horse, and the frame required will be easier for all.

Racing TB really aren't in a frame, but I think during gallops they are.

As for the endurance horse, IMO they are in a frame, not a collected, Dressage upper level frame, but a ground covering frame. Most of the pictures I see, the horses are moving along with their legs well under them and their head higher than the withers. Yes, the nose is more out, but that is best for breathing. Their backs look strong, probably from climbing so many mountains.


Gaited horses are in frames too, and very common (here at least) to run them up hills to get them moving well over the back.

But just my opinion...
Horsef likes this.
AnitaAnne is online now  
post #10 of 48 Old 01-03-2020, 11:02 AM
Yearling
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,257
• Horses: 3
This is interesting and something I am actually working on with my mare. I am working with a western dressage trainer, so goal is similar to english style dressage, where you want the horse working in a more collected frame.

However, we are not trying to force my horse into this frame. We are trying to train her and show her that by lowering her head and working through her back, it will feel good for her. The biggest thing is if the horse is properly using their body. This could be the same for any discipline.

We are not using gadgets to force the horse in a frame, and when she is using herself correctly, the inside rein on a circle should actually be relaxed.

This could translate to endurance or trail riding - just teaching your horse to relax on trail and use themselves properly. Typically a horse is more relaxed with their heads more down. When they have their heads up, it is normally b/c they are alerted to something; and once their head is up they will hollow out their back.

So by teaching them to lower their head, they will usually relax. I know this works as my mare will start chewing and yawning when we do work like this.
cbar is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.



User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome