Duke is officially done with bitless riding! We had a dressage lesson last night and it was fantastic. I felt really great about how I rode – not perfect but pretty solid – and I was able to make some small changes that really improved the connection.
Duke feels super. He recently had a massage, plus with his tooth removal giving him a few weeks off/in very light work I think did a lot for him. He also has a new grooming tool called the Posture Prep, which is essentially a type of currying that has a lot of extra benefits. I plan to write in more detail about it soon. Before his tooth removal I had started doing carrot stretches with him as well (and then he couldn’t eat carrots for a few weeks so we’re back at them now).
All of these things are needed for Duke. He had surgery to correct kissing spine about a year and a half ago. It’s really important for us to baby his back and keep it loose yet strong.
Together, these efforts seem to have really helped Duke over the last few weeks. He’s looser and suppler in his hind, and last night it felt much, much easier to get him to rock back and push.
Next up: Getting his neck more supple. He’s locked up and tight, so we’ll be incorporating neck suppling exercises into our warm up from now on. After we did some in our lesson last night, he was much happier to stretch into the contact and push instead of pulling his “dinosaur neck” move.
I’m so excited for the spring! While we won’t be showing for a few months, it feels like we’re in a super position for some good prep for later in the season.