I couldn't decide how hard Ransom and I were going to ride, so when I caught him, I only got ready enough to work hard if we had to, but not planned on it.
Warmed him up kind of quick, and while he was trotting along the wooded side of the arena, a deer squirted out of the trees & brush, running around the outside of the arena. Ransom certainly spooked, but heck, it startled me! He relaxed again pretty quickly.
I hopped on, did lots of collected & free walk warm-up before pushing into a trot. He tried to avoid working walk with collection a few times by springing into a jog, but I didn't let him get away with it. When we did go into trot, he tried giving me a strung out lazy trot, and again, I had to work hard, but pushed him into a pretty good trot forward with collection.
He tried breaking to canter every time I sat the trot, so I did lots of down to walk transitions until he quit thinking he knew what was coming next. As we were trotting back towards the barn, I saw three deer about 20 ft from the short side. I started talking to them, so they'd see me and hopefully get lost. One by one, they acknowledged the human on the horse, and sprinted around the long side, to the back of the arena corner. I told Ransom, "They're not getting the hint. Let's trot back there and get rid of them, so nobody gets startled."
Ransom seemed into this little game, and I went on really light contact, and trotted him very forward back to the corner. Squirt! There go the deer!
With the distractions gone, I pushed him into canter-right. EW! Head popping transitions. EW EW EW. Yeah, I'm not having any of that. Until he tucked his head for a transition to canter, I didn't let him have more than a stride or three of canter. When he finally dropped his noggin for the transition, I let him canter a few circles. Repeated this a few times, until I had a handful of pretty transitions.
Went left, and he started anticipating the left-canter again. Back to walk, sitting trot, walk, sitting trot, posting trot, sitting trot, walk. Ooooh.. one unhappy horse, tossing his head just a bit, pinning his ears. He was NOT happy with my not allowing him to canter. After he finally settled down, we cantered left a bit. Transitions weren't all that bad heading left. He was lazy into one of them, and quickly was shut down to trot before I let him canter up again. Then, the up transition was much better.
I rode for about 45 minutes before dark settled in. Given his irratic laziness, ugly transitions, and the deer sprinting all over the place, screaming neighbor kids, I stayed in the arena. Before the show on the 15th we need at least one goof off walking in the pasture day....