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Thoughts from Charlie Cole, Jim & Renae Dudley & Lynn Palm (by Pleasure Horse Journal)

One of our readers recently sent in this question:
Where do the judges want a horses' headset?
So, we interviewed three judges...

Charlie Cole: I look for a headset as close to level as possible. When I judge (the western horse), I look at movement and consistency in gaits and performance. Head position is really secondary to me. A horses' conformation has alot to do with a horses head position. A level topline is where most horses are most balanced and will move the best.

Jim & Renae Dudley: If the horse is performing the correct gait, with the correct cadence and traveling at a speed that is consistent with the class, the head is not a strong issue. Unless, it is extreme. Extreme being uncharacteristic for the breed or event, or so low or high that the horse looks totally unnatural. I think that it is reasonable to say, use reason. If the horse appears comfortable, and is performing according to the standards of the event, then the head is acceptable. Personal preference will allow a judge to use the headset to make placings after considering the quality of movement exhibited throughout the performance.

Lynn Palm: To answer your question about the horses head position... for the Hunt Seat Horse, I judge and only want to see what the competition's rules say. Hunter Under Saddle; The horses head posistion should be level with or slightly above the withers. The horse should have his head position out beyond, or on, the verticle. I will penalize a horse that does not conform. For me, this position of the horse's head is a main influence to the horses balance and will influence his movement. Also the horse's conformation and breed or disipline can influence the head position. That's why I love to judge a horse as an indivual, not as looking for a horse that is molded in a certain frame!! I want to see the horse balanced, moving correctly, and happy in all Hunter classes, Pleasure Driving, Hunt Seat Equitation, Hunter Hack, Working Hunter, Hunt Seat Equitation over Fences, and Hunter Under Saddle!

PHJ: Our Thanks to Charlie Cole, Jim Dudley and Lynn Palm for their time and insights, we wish you all the best! Check out their websites: High Point Performance Horses, Jim Dudley Quarter Horses and  LynnPalm.com

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