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I am looking for a horse to train for western pleasure. The horses may or may not be started. How can I encourage a low headset from the beginning of training? Or is it born into a horse? If so, how can I tell when the horse is young that he/she will have a low headset? Thanks.
 

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A low headset is trained. For my horse it was anyways..It took many months of consistensy and training. What my trainer told me to do to teach the horse that they will be happier and more comfortable if they just do what you ask. We started off at just standing still getting her to lower hear head, then moved up to walking, then trotting, and were still working on cantering. But the most advice I can give you is to be consisten and dont give in!

Also, to get the horse to put its head where you want, I would use the "leg, leg, head down" method where you pull, not hard, but gently, one rein to one leg, then the other rein to the other leg and ask for the head to be dropped. This can be done at all speeds and its SO helpful.
 

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There is training involved in the headset but it is also in the conformation. There is a difference in the body type and movement of a hunt horse compared to a western pleasure horse. If it's a horse that's bred to show pleasure then the neck is going to set lower on the withers so natural head carriage will be much lower then say a horse that is bred to run barrels or work a ranch, they actually sit higher on the withers and naturally carry their heads higher, my assumption is because it would have to do with their way of movement when working cattle and what not but I don't have a lot of knowledge on the actual working horse.

I do have a horse that is bred to work and does not have a natural low head carriage, he was trained to carry low but it's not as comfortable nor is it as easy for him... My other was bred for it and he carries his head low most of the time.
 

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Head set is a combo of training and conformation. Some horses naturally carry their heads lower, and it's a million times easier to achieve the WP look if the horse is already built for it.

For example, I rode one of my school's new horses just before break. She's a 3 year old who was started before we got her, and then given most of the first semester off. Her head never came up above her withers the entire ride unless she got a little nervous about something. She was nosed out and we had to work on collection, but her head stayed down.

So you want to look for a horse who's neck ties lower into his shoulder.

DreamHorse.com Horse ID: 1507975 - SHES SIMPLY NATURAL

^^ This mare's neck ties really high. While you might be able to get her head down with training she'll have a much harder time than a mare that's build more like this.
DreamHorse.com Horse ID: 1506803 - Uptown Impulse
 

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A low headset needs to be the last thing you worry about in your training. The horse needs to drive with his hocks, which will lift the back, which will drop the neck. That's what gets you a low headset.
 

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In my experience my WP friends trained their horse to keep his head down as part of the basic horse training. Its just operant conditioning. Every time the horses head is low reward him. Once he understands to put his head down, hes developed better muscle, then you can ask him to collect.
 
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