Advice for my green 5-year old
I adopted a rescued 5 year old draft cross (dam was a Paint and sire a Belgian) in June. Since then we've progressed through ground work and the basics of riding- stop, walk, trot, turning, bending, rein back, half halts, head down- all in the arena and on the trail. He's very responsive, and cues are incredibly easy to teach him. My worry as we progress is that he has not yet really learned to bring his back up, and while riding at the trot I've read that can damage a young horse's back if he is not holding himself correctly. Should this remain a priority, to teach collection before any long rides, or does that not really matter? I've had horses for a long time, and ridden, but never gone from the ground up before.
Also I am wondering if I could move him into a bitless bridle, and what people thing of them. Right now he is in a 5 1/2'' 3-peice snaffle D-ring (its not a French Link but it's close). I started him with a side-pull bridle but only for short period because of the rough rawhide nose piece.
I appreciate any advice :)