I rode Boomer this morning and he was great! He felt totally sound! The saddle fits great and is super comfortable. I have been lunging Boomer several times a week and trying to build fitness. It seems to have worked. Well, he is still obese but at least he is stronger in the hind end and not lame!
We rode for almost 45 minutes and he was a champ. I had him in our endurance bridle and bit. It is a kimberwicke with a low port. He doesn't love that bit but he does respect it. On the trail, I can generally keep out of his mouth, but he does occasionally need a slight correction in the first few miles of a race. In his defense, we generally ride the last 20-30 miles of an endurance ride without a bit at all. He respects the kimberwicke, but he has a tendency to fuss with it and toss his head at first before responding. So, I worked on getting the 'right' response from the bit, which is to give and lower his head. By the end of the ride, he was doing great. I'm embarrassed to say that it was the first time I have consciously worked with him on that.
I do have to mention that although Boomer was a champ, he did make a fool of himself after I got off and was leading him out of the arena. He suddenly jumped forward with a humped back and tried to run around me in a circle. He kept humping up and acting like he wanted to spook. I stopped him and suddenly figured it out. He was afraid of the metal stirrup knocking against the metal buckle on the cinch. I banged both stirrups against the girth until he realized where the noise was coming from. I swear, he looked downright sheepish when we walked off again and John and I were laughing at him!