As scheduled, R came to help. He came to watch, observe, and give me some ideas on what he saw from what I was feeling.
Harley warmed up like, well, like it was the third day in a row of hard work. Quiet, calm, settled, obedient. Of course he did.. He had an audience. pfft.
I hopped on, and we got down to business. A lot of riding on light contact, and any time I shortened the reins more than that, I had a battle. Harley tried everything he could think of before lowering his head and bringing his little nose in. He twisted his head, twisted his nose, flipped his head up & down. All of it. It took a solid ten minutes of trotting before he gave, and I bet it was an accident. The relaxes didn't last more than a stride or two a piece to start.
With his mind on the bit and on me, I squeezed him up to canter left. He held it two strides, broke to trot. I squeezed again. R said, "He almost got it wrong the second time you asked, but quickly went back to trot, like he was thinking about it. Then he got it right." Held canter for four strides. I sat again, relaxed his trot, asked one more time. Success. On a light contact, we cantered about a circle and a half (maybe more) before easing to trot.
A good walk break, with a little more work on free walk to working walk. I need to figure out how to not only get the stretch down, but to keep up the forward motion. As soon as I loosen the reins, he eases into this ploddy little pokey walk.
Change direction via turn on the haunches - Good Boy! Fantastic! Two serious front leg cross over steps. WOW!
Apparently understanding what I wanted on trot-shorter reins, Harley held the collected rounded frame for three to four strides a handful of times. Lots of praise, and then a squeeze up to canter. Again, he didn't hold it the first time. Momma error. My position is still going to poo the first few canter strides. I sat, settled, relaxed, asked again. That time, he stayed in it, and accepted light bit contact. Fantastic.
Back to trot work. By now, all the bouncy bouncy was getting to me physically. When he's relaxed and round, he's a dream to sit the trot, and light to post. When he's strung out and head up, it's like riding a ping pong ball. Bouncy and hard. I stayed with him long enough to get some relaxation, and then quit.
Tonight, it's no canter ... Me, Harley, Dressage. I miss my dressage saddle. Riding in the western seat is good for my mind, but not so good for me physically. I'm more comfortable in my dressage saddle. My legs go right to position, and I don't feel like I'm reaching for my horse's sides. Much much easier...