Finally the weather has cleared and after a long day I decided to do some work with Steele.
I hemmed and hawed and then decided that the only way to get him used to it was to actually put it on. He danced a bit in the cross ties when I made it snug but otherwise didn't seem to care.
I brought him up to the ring and we went to work. He was fine at the walk. At the trot he gave a couple wee hops and then trotted off with no issues. After a few minutes I decided to try a canter. On the first ask his ears came up and I could see him thinking
"oh I know this one. It's fun!"
He steps into canter and did two strides. He then gave a buck and fell back to trot.
"I can't canter with this thing around my middle!"
I let him settle and then asked again. He gave a series of very balanced hops and then dropped back to trot.
He looked at me. "sorry chief but it's just impossible when I'm trussed like a chicken"
"I'm sure a horse as smart and talented as you can do this, let's try again"
I asked again and he picked up the canter. I looked, it was perfectly balanced but something was wrong. I then realized- he was cross-firing. (that's when a horse canters one lead with the front legs and the opposite lead in the hind legs). Usually a horse will be all discombobulated when crossfiring but not Steele. I brought him back to the trot.
Lets try one more time.
and he was perfect.
"look at me! I got it!"
"oh you are such a genius"
I brought him back to the trot and we were done. I brought him back to the barn and he positively savoured his grooming.
Total work time- 20 minutes.
Having fun - priceless.