Weather was a little warm and muggy, but Harley came up for halter and grooming quietly. I became slightly brave, and saddled him dressage. Out to the arena we went, all my longing goods, and riding accessories. I felt loaded down for a day at the arena, and felt it kind of amusing I was planning on an hour work, tops.
Harley longed out on the line pretty well. He hopped over a few poles without incident. With a few successful leads at canter both ways, I eased him back to a walk, and then added bit and neck stretcher. Again, more success. Harley has gotten better about staying off the pressure, bending at neck and poll at the walk and trot. His canter on the stretcher is relaxing his neck, but he still sticks his nose out. All in good time, that should improve, too.
Bravery took over, and I took all of Harley's longing gear off, put on my helmet, added reins to the bit, held my breath a little, and mounted up. As soon as my legs were settled around him, I dismounted. And I mounted again, wiggled around, and dismounted. Finally, I took one deep breath, and mounted one last time. I wiggled, I leaned to each side a few times, I leaned forward, I leaned backwards. Another deep slow breath, and I squeezed my legs.
After not moving in the slightest for all the mounting, dismounting, wiggling and jiggling, Harley responded to my legs, and walked off. I only let him walk about twenty feet before bringing him to a halt again. With a gentle rein and squeeze my knees, he stopped. He shifted his weight underneath himself, and I squeezed him off to walk again. We repeated the walk and halt a number of times, mostly for my mind, ensuring he'd go when I asked, and more importantly stop when I asked. Many direction changes, a good dozen halts, and I asked him to trot. I didn't let him trot off much, maybe halfway around a circle, and we were back to walk. His transition from trot to walk was good as well, responding to very little pressure. I repeated this, twice, both times going right. yes, in the big picture of life, I should have done it left, too. however, this isn't big picture day, this is ride my horse a little, boost my confidence and his. At the trot, I briefly focused my post to a speed I felt comfortable with. Almost immediately, I felt Harley's motion hesitate, and then move in sync with my body. Incredible...
We worked a total of about an hour. Approximately 15 minutes of that under saddle. I can say, I have missed my dressage saddle comfort. I didn't realize how much I was missing it until I sat down in it and asked for forward. My cues can be lighter, my body can move and Harley responds. I don't need to shove my hips around to make the walk bigger, and I don't need to nearly kick him for forward. The halts are nearly as light, shifting weight and settling my body. Delightfully comfy.