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tchighhope
Advanced Rider

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  09:44:38 AM  Show Profile Send tchighhope a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What are some of the ways that you guys use to teach your horse to carry its head and neck level like in Western Pleasure? Our horse carries its head way too high. My neighbor trainer swears by this tool that is connected to the girth, comes up between the front legs, separates into two rings that you run the reins thru the rings (maybe called draw reins??). But another trainer told me that they are dangerous and can cause the horse to panic and not to use them under any circumstances? I don't have any experience with them and don't know the proper way to teach lower head carriage and definitely don't want to do anything dangerous.

puddleplasher
Clinician



USA
1296 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  11:33:31 AM  Show Profile  Visit puddleplasher's Homepage Send puddleplasher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been told recently that one hazard of tie downs (in addition to horses not being able to put their head up when they need to for balance, like on hills on trails) is that horses can become used to them and almost lean on them, and become even more heavy on the forehand than they were before. Now, I know that tie-downs are different from what you're describing, but maybe they'd have a similar effect? I've always just used the reins themselves, with hands held low. Sometimes gently twitching your hands on alternating reins will get them to lower their heads. But I'm no trainer, I'm sure Mrs. Hook will have some cool technique...

'plash

Pepper sez: "Don't forget the horse!!"
'Plash's Ride Log
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  11:37:46 AM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mrs. Hook would be the better one to explain how to train your horse to do this, but I just want to say that most mechanical aids don't work in the long run. I've used them without success. The thing is that they work fine when in use on the horse and used by someone who knows how to use them efficiently, but once they are off the horse, you normally will have the same problem. My horses learned real quick when they were on and when they were not. I'd stay away from any kind of artificial or mechanical aid and use good solid training instead. Also proper training will stay with a horse for years if not for life.

I should add that if you've never used draw reins, or any other artificial or mechanical aid, you're better off not using it. They are very easy to abuse in the hands of a someone who has never used them. Be safe.


"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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dunhorsechic
Trainer



USA
584 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  12:41:07 PM  Show Profile Send dunhorsechic a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think you're referring to a training fork....it should not be adjusted too short...
Draw reins are an entirely different matter.
I've seen lots of people using a training fork to ride ALL the time, and many trail ride with them, which, in my opinion, is dangerous, especially if you cross deep water.

If you can't be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.
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Mrs Hook
Trainer



Canada
862 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  5:14:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mrs Hook's Homepage Send Mrs Hook a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've started this post a few times, but finding the right words is hard, so I'll start, others please jump in and put in your two cents and ask questions and maybe we can find a good way of explaining this.

A head set / neck set comes from collection, and collection comes from being ridden from the back end forward. Such a simple statement but so hard to understand and accomplish.

If you are talking about a running martingale and it is adjusted correctly then it is a good training tool. If you adjust it improperly then you are asking for a wreck. A correct adjustment is level with the horses throat latch, when they are standing still with their head and neck in a normal position. It really only comes into play if the horses puts their head up to avoid the bit.

Draw reins - they are good in very experienced hands, but only experienced hands. In order for them to work properly you must use both the regular reins and the draw reins together, because a horse will soon learn to duck under the draw reins and then you have a horse with its head to its knees and an accident waiting to happen.

About the collection - take a rein in each hand and drop your hands down on each side of the pommel, keep soft contact on each rein. Ask the horse to walk forward, and push with each leg in movement with their strides. Keep the soft contact. You are pushing the horse forward from the behind, up into the bit and the contact is stopping the horse from going faster, so you get collection. You are not pulling, you are holding and pushing.

Another exercise is to hold your reins, one in each hand, drop your one hand down to your knee, and gently pull the horses head around. Release and do it on the other side. When the horse gets flexible and starts to understand they will start breaking at the withers. This combined with the proper collection is how you obtain the level neck sets. It does never comes from pulling on the bit!!!

Mrs Hook's Riding Log


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tchighhope
Advanced Rider

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  6:31:51 PM  Show Profile Send tchighhope a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By running martingale, you are talking about what a lot of barrel racers use, it can be adjusted loose enough to only prevent a horse from hitting you in the face? I looked at the draw reins pictures and that is not what the trainer showed me. I think dunhorsechic is right and I'm thinking of a training fork. Every time he dismounted, they would come off the reins (kind of looked annoying to me)then when he would get back on he would have to rethread the reins thru the rings again.
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Mrs Hook
Trainer



Canada
862 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  7:15:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mrs Hook's Homepage Send Mrs Hook a Private Message  Reply with Quote
TC What you are referring to that the barrel racers use is called a tie down.

You are probably referring to either a running martingale or a training fork. Training forks are usually short and they are used to pull the horses heads down by pulling on the bit and the pully effect forces the horses head down. I don't like them - at all. You can get the same effect as with the draw reins, head forced down, neck arced and you have absolutely no control of the horse. This contributes nothing to collection, which has to come from behind.

I will try to take a picture of the running martingale. The only time it really comes into play is if the horse tosses its head up to avoid the bit. If you are working on roll backs or something like that, it keeps them engaged if they want to disengage. For normal riding it is just there.

For your kids I would forget all artificial aids and just work on hands, legs, seat and collection. The kids will become better riders and the horses will become softer and more balanced and more collected. Once they build up the muscles to carry themselves in that frame, and understand what you are looking for, a couple squeezes with your legs and a push with your seat and a slight movement of the reins and they will drop their necks and collect for you.

Mrs Hook's Riding Log


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tchighhope
Advanced Rider

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2009 :  9:12:37 PM  Show Profile Send tchighhope a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks,
I think we will just keep away from the special tack then. We don't really know how to use them and definitely don't want the horse or kids scared. So if the head comes up, lower the hands to the side of the saddle and alternately squeeze the hands while pushing with the seat is the proper way? I looked up some youtube videos and I think I understand what Hook was saying.
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  1:30:49 PM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it's any help: a running martingale is shaped like a "Y". The bottom of the "Y" connects to the girth and comes up between the horse's front legs and up the chest where it splits to form the upper part of the "Y". Looking at the letter "Y", there are rings on either end of the split forming the top of the "Y". The reins come from the bit and pass through the rings and up to the rider's hands.

In this configuration; the horse is not held down by something immovable. The reins slide through the rings, and the only place the running martingale is connected is to the girth of your saddle. The only time any pressure will be applied to the horse is when the horse raises his head out of position.

That's about the best way I can describe it .


"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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Montezrider
Clinician



USA
1284 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  2:15:09 PM  Show Profile Send Montezrider a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Mrs. Hook is right. The head will go down when the back comes up. The back will come up when the horse is ridden correctly and he collects himself. Gadgets may give you a head down position, but it wont be true collection and I doubt the horse will be happy or comfortable in his forced position.

A good rider has a thinking mind, fine emotions and a sensitive hand.-Tu Yu,72 BC

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Arenadirt
Trainer

USA
670 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  2:16:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Arenadirt's Homepage Send Arenadirt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"A head set / neck set comes from collection, and collection comes from being ridden from the back end forward."

Spot on!

Lateral flexion helps a lot too. C Anderson calls lateral flexion the key to vertical flexion, and I've found that a good thing to keep in mind. But it works more on the poll than on the neck level. Some horses (e.g. most Arabs) are not built to carry their necks level with their withers, and it's not a good idea to to try to make an unnatural carriage into a habit.
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EZ2SPOT
Clinician

USA
3785 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  2:55:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit EZ2SPOT's Homepage Send EZ2SPOT a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What Arenadirt said about some horses not being built to carry their necks level with their withers, is so true. It depends on the breed, and, also, sometimes, the type of horse within a breed. Trina, you did not say what breed of horse you are wanting to train to carry its head lower.

Most of the Quarter Horses you see in Western Pleasure classes are bred for that low head carriage. If your horse is not, then it will be harder for him to do.

I've been able to train Warsong to lower her head when I ask, but then it comes right back up! It is just not her natural way of going. I've never seen her move with her head down when out in the pasture. Her way of going reminds me more of an Arab or a Morgan.

EZ2SPOT
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classair
Groomer



43 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  9:00:19 PM  Show Profile  Visit classair's Homepage Send classair a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Tchighhope,
What I have done in the past, I put a rope halter on the horse then hold pressure down on the fiador knot till the horse lowers his or her head, then release the pressure and rub the horses face. Do this till your horse holds his head were you wish it to be. You could keep doing that till you have to pick your horses head off the floor.

There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.

Horses are my form of stress therapy. I would rather be in a saddle than on a couch!

Habits are first cobwebs and then cables.

Treat a woman like a horse, and a horse like a woman, and they both will do their best to please you.


http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=prWOiL1m4S1eEqnaeDas0VQ
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carver
Beginning Rider

USA
145 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2009 :  11:11:18 PM  Show Profile  Visit carver's Homepage Send carver a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am finally able to catch up on the forum,we recently moved and it took forever to get cable, and internet.This post is one that gives people the most trouble.It all comes from conformation,and the back end. Most horses need to learn to collect.The only way for that to happen is to build up the back and hindquarters.It takes a lot of patience so as not to overdo it. I long trot a lot as it builds muscle,whereas loping builds endurance.When you ride always bend and flex both sides at a walk and trot.Start at the walk, go a few feet and stop him,back a few steps, roll him back over the hindquarters and repeat the other way.When he is settled doing that do it at a trot.Stop quick,back, roll him over,and trot off.When you back,roll him over his hindquarters this works the back and rump.After you have got him working calmly with this start with a walk and gently viberate the snaffel with a gentle seesaw motion,with the hands down low. The key is to slightly make him unconfortable. He will grind,move his head up, side to side,and when he runs out of places to move he will drop his head trying to get away from the irritation. Very important is that when he drops even a little bit release all pressure. When he elevates start over and it will get better and easier.It does not take long for a slight rein touch and and he will know that means drop.Be careful with pressure from a snaffel and try to use rein pressure on one side at the time. Take the bit and lay it in your hand pull both sides back and watch what happens to the middle of the bit. Then think what happens inside his mouth the bit with a lot of pressure on both sides goes into the roof of his mouth, causing his head to elevate.Be easy and remember the point that you release at is the point you train at.When he is able to lope do the same thing.Back,roll him over his hocks, lope off, Stop and repeat.Hold him in frame and push him with your legs ad he will frame up, and slow down.Remember stay out of his mouth and stay out of his head,dont confuse him, give the same cues and and easy on the mouth. Ride safe
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killybean907
Clinician



USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2009 :  02:48:56 AM  Show Profile Send killybean907 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent information on all fronts!
Mrs. Hook and carver, thanks for adding in good exercises that build the hindquarters. Without the hindquarters being under the horse, you won't get collection, and with out the collection, you won't have a rounded frame....and thus, no relaxed and collected horse.




It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.
Karen-Anchorage, Alaska
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meelie
Tenderfoot



USA
1 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2009 :  11:28:19 AM  Show Profile Send meelie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If only people would study Parelli and his horse phychology. Bad saddle fit and or bad bits usually cause horses to hold their head up. Using a tie down or any other unnatural device is a cop out and cruel to the horse. Horses will carry their head correctly with the correct tack, educated rider, and proper preparation from the ground. Please, please look further into why your horse is doing this. He is not trying to make you mad. There is definitely something bothering him. Find out what it is, don't punish him for it.

"The air of Heaven is that which blows between the ears of the horse"
"My treasures do not clink and glitter, they gleam in the sun and neigh at night"
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tchighhope
Advanced Rider

USA
257 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2009 :  11:33:53 AM  Show Profile Send tchighhope a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Meelie,
You misunderstood my post. I'm interested in how a horse is properly trained to hold its head level. Saddle fit, and all tack is fitted properly and the horse is not being punished. We are just interested in riding and training properly to get the best headset possible for our horse. I assure you all our horses are treated well and trained/treated with respect.
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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2009 :  7:45:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Most riding aids when used correctly are not gadjets...sadly most aren't used correctly. Even a Tie Down can be misused. Tie downs are not to tie the head down but many use them that way.

Also remember it takes a long time to build up the muscles and balanced so going in the proper frame can take time. Time that some don't like to take so they resort to stronger and stronger aids.
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Hook
Trail Boss (Moderator)



Canada
6115 Posts

Posted - 04/16/2009 :  06:03:23 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by meelie

If only people would study Parelli and his horse psychology. Bad saddle fit and or bad bits usually cause horses to hold their head up. Using a tie down or any other unnatural device is a cop out and cruel to the horse. Horses will carry their head correctly with the correct tack, educated rider, and proper preparation from the ground. Please, please look further into why your horse is doing this. He is not trying to make you mad. There is definitely something bothering him. Find out what it is, don't punish him for it.



Hi Meelie, Welcome to the Forum.

Tell us a bit more about you and your horses and how you became interested in the Parelli methods and how he works on collection.




Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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Lokahi
Tenderfoot



France
4 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2012 :  5:31:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lokahi's Homepage Send Lokahi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tchighhope

What are some of the ways that you guys use to teach your horse to carry its head and neck level like in Western Pleasure? Our horse carries its head way too high. My neighbor trainer swears by this tool that is connected to the girth, comes up between the front legs, separates into two rings that you run the reins thru the rings (maybe called draw reins??). But another trainer told me that they are dangerous and can cause the horse to panic and not to use them under any circumstances? I don't have any experience with them and don't know the proper way to teach lower head carriage and definitely don't want to do anything dangerous.


Lokahi
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Lokahi
Tenderfoot



France
4 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2012 :  5:39:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lokahi's Homepage Send Lokahi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tchighhope

What are some of the ways that you guys use to teach your horse to carry its head and neck level like in Western Pleasure? Our horse carries its head way too high. My neighbor trainer swears by this tool that is connected to the girth, comes up between the front legs, separates into two rings that you run the reins thru the rings (maybe called draw reins??). But another trainer told me that they are dangerous and can cause the horse to panic and not to use them under any circumstances? I don't have any experience with them and don't know the proper way to teach lower head carriage and definitely don't want to do anything dangerous.



Hi, as much as having a head too high isn't the best, solving it with something restricting does not teach your horse to do it correctly.. You can teach your horse to lower his head with ground work, a slight tapping at the base of the neck, with immediate release and reward when he does it (even if its just a try at the beginning) to be done often throughout the day, but not for long ;) .. This way just with brushing your hand on his neck he will lower his head.
The other thing is to put him on a circle, he will naturally lower his head.
The way i prefer is when riding, on a slight bend or circle, keep your outside rein in position while raising your inside rein (without pulling), and reward grandly when he puts his head down.. This is the Philip Karl way of doing it and i really like it.. This way he learns to carry himself, and its not you carrying him..
But most importantly, if he is carrying his head very high, he is probably not at that level yet, so go back to the basics

Happy Training,

Lokahi
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