This week, Cactus was saddled for the first time since arriving. Under saddle, we continued to work on the groundwork exercises from last week, with everything making further improvement. I also added a saddle-specific desensitizing exercise, Popping the Stirrups.
We weren't able to do anything on Tuesday with the extreme wind. The geldings were lucky to get out of the wind on the backside of the machine shed.
Today (Wednesday), we ventured into the round pen since the weather & wind cooperated & continued to work on building confidence & refining the groundwork exercises.
I noticed something kind of comical with Cactus during our session. He had a string of slobber several times throughout. My hunch is that he's a bit of a jaw clencher. When a horse switches from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system, they will produce more saliva (kind of like when we think or smell our favorite food). This is one thing that brings about licking & chewing. It's almost as if Cactus switches over to the parasympathetic & begins to salivate but has a habit of clenching his jaw & doesn't 'mop up' the extra slobber & it starts to run out. In the video below, you can see that I stick my finger in his mouth to encourage him to work his mouth & let go of some of that tenseness. It's kind of like how we've been told to smile & we'll start to feel happy. So a lot of what I'll be doing is changing Cactus' physical body response, which will affect his ability to regulate himself better mentally.
Here's a video showing how we work on Pillar One of the Balance for Movement Method. I'm looking for him to soften to the pressure I'm applying to the halter & 'shut off' his lower neck muscle (brachiocephalic) so that it turns into jello. It may look like a simple exercise, but the benefits are numerous physically & mentally. I'll explain & demonstrate it more thoroughly once we start getting together for lessons.
We'll see how the beginning of next week goes. While Cactus has been obedient to what I've asked of him, there's a degree of tenseness & lack of confidence while working. I would like to see those things improve before mounting up. If the weather & wind cooperates, I'll also pull out my Pivo to catch some more video.
In maximizing training time during the short week, conformation-style photos will come with next week's update on Thursday night.