We had a really good long-lining session on Wednesday afternoon even though he did get away from me near the start when I asked for the canter. He galloped around wildly for a minute or two until he finally realized that I wasn't attached to the other end. What I liked was that he made large circles around me, and the lines just trailed rather innocuously behind. He didn't get hung up and he didn't step on the lines. And once he stopped, he stopped completely. I patted his shoulder, picked up the lines, and continued on as though nothing had happened.
Why was I pleased? Well, oddly enough, it was because he had the opportunity to escape without any negative consequences. I wasn't afraid, he didn't rear. He ran off some extra energy without either one of us being stressed out about it. Once I had him between the lines again, we did lots more canter-trot-canter transitions. And frankly, they were lovely. I could see him really trying to balance himself and he even did some nice licking and chewing while cantering. YES!
Again, let me stress that he is not (yet) reaching and working over his back like I know he should. For now, I am happy that he is willingly trotting and cantering in a circle without blowing through that outside shoulder.
He's letting me rock the inside rein, and when he gets a wild hair and squeals and acts "humpy," I just sit back and hold that inside rein until he gives. I can't do that nearly as well from the saddle.
This whole process is really giving me a great opportunity to watch him work. I've learned a lot about him by watching his response to my cues, and the lines are definitely giving me a better feel of the reins. He definitely prefers a lighter contact, and simply shortens his neck when there is too much. It is also interesting to note that he works better over his back at the canter than at the trot. And when he does a canter depart, he pushes off very nicely from his hind end.
Another step forward!