Tonight I long lined Louie, again working on all 3 gaits (yesterday we just worked on the walk and trot, so we're going for every other or every 3 days to work on the canter rather than every session, to keep from anticipating the canter). I added one new piece of equipment- a pair of loose elastic side reins to prevent Louie from over-bending when I ask him to move towards the rail- this is in attempt to get him to actually MOVE toward the rail when I ask him rather than just bend toward it. This piece of equipment seemed to help a bit with that.
We warmed up just as we always do- walk and trot. We worked on our slow western jog, a medium working trot, and an extended trot. We also worked on transitions and halting. Then after we sufficiently got all the bugs out, I removed the crupper and ran the lines through the tugs rahter than the terretts, dropping the outside line around his haunches. We started off at a walk, tracking to the left.
Instantly Louie knew what was about to happen so he started acting squirley. I just persevered and asked him to continue working on walk, trot, jog, and halt, until he got over the feeling of the line behind his haunches. From an active, forward walk, I asked Louie for a half-halt, a shift of the haunches, then gave a kiss to ask him to canter. He kindof jumped off into the canter, and hopped around a bit, but I pushed him through it and he continued on at a nice canter. Good boy! We stopped and praised. It's hard to praise and really get excited for a horse when you're out of breath.
After a little walking to settle down, I asked him again a second time to canter and this time, much to my suprise, he took his right (incorrect) lead. I brought him back down to a trot and asked him again to canter, this time he took a very nice left lead. I sprinted with him around a whole lap and again down to the far end (I have to run pretty fast to keep up, even though he canters at a pretty reasonable rate). At the far end, I asked him to circle. This was a little tricky, as he wanted to slow down, and kindof crow hopped when I gave him another kiss to continue on. Perhaps next time I'll try a cluck, as he obviously is a little jumpy around the kiss cue.
One last time, I asked him to canter again (I wanted to end on a good note with a clean canter- no wrong leads, no crow hopping, etc). He kindof jumped into the canter, startled by the kiss, and continued on very nicely, until I asked him to walk after about 3/4 lap of very nice, controlled cantering around the arena. We stopped and I showered him with breathless praise and pets one last time.
To end our lesson, we did a little walking, then changed directions and worked on our various trot speeds to get Louie's mind out of "canter" mode. Overall, he did really well today- much less bucking/craziness with the canter, so I think removing the crupper helped. In a few days, we'll try the right lead again and see where that takes us. I am waiting in hopeful anticipation.