It's coming along. . . at least he's getting the hang of it, whether he likes cantering on that lead or not, he's at least trying. Last night I long lined him and we worked on the canter, which went very well! He cantered on both leads quite willingly and got both leads twice on the first try in each of his departures! We had a tiny bit of kicking on the left lead, but with a quick verbal reprimand he quit his little fit and we pushed him through it. I was very happy with him!
Tonight I rode him again, so now it's been 4 times in the past month or so. He was pretty good. He's not as "handy" as I would like, he doesn't respond to my cues quite as easily as he should, he's a little stiff, and one-sided, but he's out of condition, so I'll give him that for now. In particular, he was ignoring my right leg as I tried to push him toward the rail and didn't want to bend to the right going around corners. He was cutting corners like crazy and then missing the rail completely. Perhaps it was because the arena was in need of a dragging and had quite a rut by the rail that he didn't want to ride in. . . Anyhow, he eventually gave in and moved to the rail. He had a very nice walk and trot tonight, moved really nicely and evenly, and felt pretty good.
I then decided it was time to attempt the canter. Since it had gone so nicely the night before, we ought to give it a try. I asked him to canter on his right lead first (I don't think I've ever asked for the right lead before the left, so this was a challenge- bad side first). He gave me the usual rigmarole of trotting, teeth grinding, and a few bucks/kicks, then he picked it up- about a lap later. . . We went along pretty nicely and controlled on the right lead (both front and hind- yay!) for about 2 laps. After a little break I asked him for the right lead a second time, and this time it went much better, he took it a little quicker, and cantered pretty nicely. After going to the right, we tried the left lead- very nice! He didn't quite step right into it, it's like he needs more power in his set-up to take the canter right off from the walk/half halt and he's too lazy right now. Even so, he cantered really nicely, and he has suprisingly much more endurance in the canter with a rider on his back than he had the previous times we've worked on it.
I was pretty pleased that he took both leads with *relatively* little difficulty today under saddle. This is a clear sign to me that our work in the long lines is paying off, as he seems to understand now, that I'm asking him for a certain footfall when traveling each direction. The work continues. . .