This week has been a bit trying with Cactus.
In the arena, it's been a task to find a happy medium between asking enough to keep Cactus engaged, looking for the correct answer & not checking out (ex., going around in 20 circles before he finally looks to stop when asking for a One Rein Stop), but not so much that he gets frustrated. As mentioned before, he's got A LOT of tension & desire to brace in his head & neck. We've been working on Vertical Flexion quite a bit. It's a basis of a nice stop, back up, & rate.
With that, it's become obvious that I'm having to do a lot of pulling when he gets to bracing & pulling as well. To see if we can find something that is more appropriate & effective than a snaffle, I've been trying a few bits that I have. For now, I've been using a Jim Edwards Ball Correction. I like the way he feels in this when he's moving forward, even trotting & loping circles had more control. He's unsure about the leverage & port when asking him to stop & back, but that will take a bit of time to become familiar with it. I've also added a cavesson to encourage him to quiet his mouth a bit. It's not so tight that it completely restricts him from opening his mouth, but it makes it clear that it's not the easy thing to do to evade the bit.
We also started working on more shoulder, rib, & hindquarter control to keep him engaged. He started out not wanting to think through what I was asking at first & was getting quite frustrated. It took a fair bit of REALLY slowing things down & getting him to try for me with time spent standing & petting him in between those tries. Things began to click for him then.
Aside from our arena ride, Cactus got to walk the creek for the first time. He did pretty well even with the relentless deer flies pestering us.
Next week, we'll continue to spend some time in this bit & work on breaking those body control exercises down even further while staying slow & correct.
Next week's update will be posted Thursday night/Friday.