Another part is that I think that his bit isn't the right one for him and he is fussy in his mouth. That is where he exhibits all his tension. I'm working on it - hopefully a new bit will arrive within the next couple of weeks.
Such a goober.
I have been super inconsistent with my rides. After a stressful move to a new location after his first week under saddle, I had two and a half months of working nights with no riding, and then we hit the latest ice age aka. spring. There were many times that I would ride for 3 days, then not ride for another 10.
And the last reason that I haven't done much canter with Cisco - because I'm on no timeline but my own. I don't have show plans and have to have him going a certain level by a certain time. So I can take my time and do things when I think we are ready for it. Because you know what is really hard to teach a horse to do? Relax when they are worried. And when it becomes a habit that they are worried as soon as you get on them on every single ride? That takes years to fix.
I dealt with tension with Phantom for the first few years because of the way she was started. I don't want to deal with that again.
But now the time has come. We're ready to get serious about the canter.
I have cantered him under saddle before. About 4 times this spring. And it was no biggie. He's fairly balanced and comfortable to sit. Of course the steering sucks, but hey, our steering still sucks at a trot half the time.
On Wednesday's ride, we added some canter to our ride. He was very good and picked it up each time that I asked for it. He kept the canter (with much kissing and clucking on my part) until I asked him to come back to trot. And we managed a turn across the arena without running into the wall on each rein.
Steering - well, let's just say there's lots of room for improvement.
He was a bit worried after the canter, but settled fairly quickly. I will start adding the canter in at random times over the next few rides so that he doesn't anticipate too much and has a chance to relax a bit in between.
Hopefully the slow work that I've put in will show a payoff!