I fed everybody early, including me, and rode late. Harley eagerly set his head in the halter when I went to the pasture for him. How delightful.
Off to the arena, dressed dressage. Longing went well, except for that brief moment when the deer rustled in the pasture and startled him. Can't hardly get mad when he was frightened. Neck stretcher work was good, and I left him there a little bit longer than average on purpose. I was curious if it would help.
I don't know if it was the different saddle/seat contact, if it was the extra leg pressure I could easily add, the reinforcement of four days in a row, cooler temperatures, or what.. But Harley was forward without a lot of effort, and gave to the bit, holding it three or four strides at a time. It felt great to ride his trot, bouncing in a sweet posting trot that was actually pleasant to ride.
We had four doe deer running around the arena, obviously irritated we interrupted their evening. The feeling was mutual. One doe, we'll call her "Dinner" for short, came within 5' of the arena fence. Harley was uncomfortable with her closeness, so I slowed him to a walk, and started making all kinds of annoying noises at her. Dinner didn't move, not at all. This is the same DinnerDeer from last season, stealing Ransom's supper and interrupting his work. Finally, I started pushing Harley towards her. He snorted at Dinner at the same time I was making silly noises, walking up to her. Finally, Dinner got the hint and retreated. Her partners got the hint, making a very wide detour around the arena and our very large space we'd set.
Total ride, about an hour. Had Dinner and her buddies not interrupted, I would've cantered. He felt that good. Hoping tonight is even better. I'm ready to quit riding him western in the arena. It's time to get to business. We've been at this tiptoe'ing nonsense too long now. I feel good enough, my balance is back, and my energy is nearly 100%. No reason why we can't get out of my "security blanket saddle", at least in the arena.