The (beautiful, amazing, perfect) weather has finally dried things out a little and I got the chance to put Boomer back to work to assess the damage.
I bitted him up in the surcingle with side reins and lunged him at the walk and trot for about 15 minutes. He was pretty high headed and inverted at first, but he quickly remembered that stretching and low is where he needs to be. He did try very hard and we got a few full circles without him popping up his head. However, after any extended stretching on his part, he would pop his head up and invert, then take a funny step in the back or try to canter a stride. I think this is strictly a strength issue. It only happened twice in one direction and once in the other direction. He has completely lost his top line muscling over the last 5 months and I have started noticing his under neck is starting to get more defined again. I would expect to see improvement within a few sessions. If he gets worse, or doesn't improve we will get the chiro back out. However, as it is, I don't plan on having her back out until we get closer to riding/competing again.
So, I'm hoping that slowly introducing the bitted lunging again will help him build a little strength and stretch to his top line muscles before we start riding again. I also anticipate a few months of 'rehab' riding to get him strong again. I really believe that having that dressage-influenced strong top line really makes a world of difference in endurance. It doesn't matter that we don't 'look' like dressage folk. The important thing is him engaging his hindquarters, lifting his back, and arching over the top of his neck. Once those muscles are strong, it will make carrying me much easier over long distances. Not that I'm that heavy- I just realized that even while pregnant, I still weigh in with tack in the lowest weight division of AERC.
So, lunging from now until May-ish to build strength and stamina. Then riding from May-ish until September to fine tune and build endurance. Then hopefully do a few competitions in Oct & Nov!