I am not particularly sure why he behaved this way, as I was relaxed and happy and we were alone in the arena so there were not many distractions. Also he is very familiar with the flag and we played with it many times before. Anyway, he was calm when we finished and that is what matters.
Next we practiced forward down from Straightness Training at the halt. (We were also not alone in the arena anymore) Kai got the head down when going forward very quickly but it was pretty hard for him when standing still. At first he braced and did not want to lower his head and when he did he was very fidgety. He was being unusually mouthy as well. I think he was feeling a bit unsettled so he tried to walk forward many times. I waited for him to find comfort and relaxation with his head down. He started to yawn and yawn and when he was done he could stay relaxed for longer without getting distracted.
I quit asking him when he was pretty soft and quiet. Next we practiced taking the bit in and out a few times and then I left it on. Kai gaped his mouth wide open and moved his tongue back and forth. I sent him out on the circle to work on relaxed transitions to take his mind off the bit. We did a million transitions focusing on walk to canter transitions most.
Kai usually takes trot steps before making the transition to canter. He kept trotting faster before cantering so we kept trying. Soon I realized that I needed to change the way I was asking him. I needed to make a clear difference between the cue to trot or walk faster and making a transition.
The cue for canter is to bring my energy up and to put my weight on my "hindquarters" to signal Kai that he needs to put his weight on his HQ so he can make a clean transition. The cue for going faster within the gait is to just bring my energy up. I tried the canter transition again and even though he still took some trot steps he made a beautiful transition to canter, and looked like he was prepared for it instead of scrambling to make the transition. On top of that he kept the smile in the line and seemed more relaxed.
Next, I asked him to stop and come sideways toward me. I was delighted with the fact that Kai understood what I wanted without hesitation and he came sideways eagerly and stopped at respectful distance. We also did sideways from zone 1 without a pole. Kai was super light and he moved off with me just shifting my weight. We played with more transitions and sideways and before we knew it Kai forgot about fussing with the bit so I brought him in and took the bridle off.
Next we did some bowing while he cooled down. He is staying down a lot longer and is thinking through it instead of bouncing right back up after his knee touched the ground. I groomed him and ended the session.