I lunged Harley briefly on the halter, and with R there to help out and watch, I tried something fun. Harley was compliant on the halter, I believe happy to not be eating bit confusion.
I added the bit, and he was polite about taking it. I added a helmet, and attached the shorter lead rope to his halter. R and I had a little chat about "quiet, calm, peaceful, and do not over react."
I walked Harley to his pasture, fastened the gates, and walked him up to the little step stool.
Hop Hop Hop, launch.. I was sitting, on his back, legs apart. That's real riding. R was holding the lead rope, and I could see tension in fingers. I could feel tension in Harley's back. "Honey, You're going to need to relax for this to work. Just breathe." R eased, and so did Harley, licking and chewing with a heavy sigh.
Are we ready? Let's try it. I squeezed with both legs, and clucked. Two forward steps, and he stopped. C'mon Harley, need more than two, dear. Squeezed again, and clucked. He walked on another half dozen steps, before my helmet scraped on a tree limb. squirt! Oh crap! Whoa honey... Harley heard the tree branch scraping, and shot forward about a foot before I was able to get him relaxed. On the upside, he did move forward, he didn't really explode, and I stayed up.
We got a few steps of walk at a time, and the more we walked out, the easier it became. Harley walked out a handful of steps, changed direction nicely, and learned to understand R being on the lead rope, and me being up aboard.
Our first ride. Albeit about ten minutes, and total uneventful, easy forward go. Light, walking, bareback. Whatta way to start...