The conversation in my head went something like this...
Why won't I just start cantering Harley? I mean, really... There were how many different horses for sale that I hopped up on, without thought, threw caution to the wind, and asked up into the gait? For heaven's sake, there was even the one I rode without the owner riding first. That one on second ride bucked hard with the owner! I'm a frigging chicken! He lives here! I know his history, I know he knows how. He's got the muscles now. It won't be pretty and collected, but he'll go for sure!
So I grabbed Harley, dressed him all up, and walked him to the arena. I longed him out a little first, and he was quiet. I asked for canter, and got decent movemetn without a lot of effort. A little canter-departs, a circle or two at a time, and easy downs back to trot.
I hopped on. He found his "Go" button, for sure, and it's in a driving seat. I pushed him on at the walk, and he popped to trot. Can't fault him for it, I was asking big. So I left him go. The trot got a little pokey lazy, so I squeezed again. Harley responded with this gigantic trot - You know the one. That "I'm almost in the canter so you might as well just squeeze me again" trot?
So I did. Steady on the circle, I prayed he'd stay there. I squeezed solid, and kissed hard. Harley lept up into his canter, and I quickly relaxed, and kept kissing to him. Gawgeous. Just outstanding, beyond my expectations. Really?! Has he been hiding this all along? I gave him a heavy sigh, and he eased into a trot. A big trot. Nearly as big as the trot-into-canter-trot. Forward!!!
A little more trot work, a little more canter-left, a little more trot. We eased into the walk, and reversed. More of the same. His canter-right? Equally delightful. This little boy is not only bright, he's even. No "better direction", he's about the same both ways, which is fantastic!
I lost track of time, thoroughly enjoying myself, probably glowing and elevated about 3" above the tack, tickled I was brave, and Harley was so willing. We rode for nearly 45 minutes. As I realized how long it'd been, I slowed him to a loose rein walk, and relaxed, with plenty of "atta boy" pats and praise.
I scheduled video taping for Saturday. If he felt that great, I was highly curious what he looked like. Is this the dressage horse I've been looking for, all this time? Have I been driving all over Timbuktu, spending countless hours, gallons of gas, and earned grey hairs, when the horse I'm looking for has been in the yard right outside my door?! Seriously?!