We had to stop competing BD as our horse had a melanoma in her mouth

Our family pony 'Just Kit' was a 14.2 Connemara X, very lively and seemed to run on adrenaline at competitions. We bought her as a rising 9 year old but had known her for 4 years prior to this - she belonged to my instructor.

We competed in local dressage and my daughter did all Pony Club activities. As we had classical dressage lessons Kit was very well schooled and responsive, over the years Kit won a great many showing classes - up to county level. Her greatest achievement in dressage was winning at Oldencraig Equestrian Centre in Surrey against some very well bred warmblood horses. My daughter Liz competed at Hickstead in dressage, showjumped for her Pony Club and school, went x-country all in a snaffle. As Kit was grey she developed some melanomas in the usual places but then had one in the corner of her mouth. It didn’t seem to cause problems and after a biopsy to check it was non-malignant we decided to ride bitless. As my cob was bitless, for western riding, I tried her in a Barefoot cross-under bridle, Kit was easy to transition as she was voice trained and very responsive to slight weight shifts. She could get excited cross-country but in the bitless bridle she seemed to be calmer - my daughter took Kit to her first Endurance GB ride when Kit was 24 and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However I liked to compete for my riding club so I had to use a bit - I never liked using it after the melanoma but did do so on occasions. Because we couldn't compete bitless under riding club rules we eventually stopped competing there except for the Endurance rides and I switched the cross-under to a side pull. My daughters youngster 'Smokin Hotshot' did his first endurance ride in a halter and was a gentleman, he has a bitless bridle now for hacking and endurance but as my daughter is competing in dressage she has to use a bit. So he was transitioned to a bit at age 5 years, he was started bitless. Sadly Kit died last year but she taught a great many people to ride sympathetically and bitless.

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