Up bright crack of dark early Saturday. Happy Birthday to me! All the little furry four leggeds were well behaved while I waited on the sun to rise. Caught Harley, decked him up in his R.E.S. boots and saddle, and offs we went to the arena. I was a little dismayed at all the "prep work" I needed to get done, and Harley was in one of his "how slow can I walk" moods. I got all the ground poles set for trot, the crossrail put up in its place, and finally started longing him. He must've felt the frustration, and longed out very quietly and polite.
I hopped aboard, and sent him out on light contact, serpentines and circles around the arena. Pretty quickly the dark-ish clouds overhead opened up, and we had a solid steady rain falling. Really?! Rain?! With his full attention pretty quickly, I aimed for the trot poles. No problem! (still raining) Swung wide after them, and lined up for the big "X". I got light hesitation, and a bit of an over-jump. Funny anyways, since I had lifted the sides up one hole on the jump standards. One little bitty hole, and you woulda thought I sent him over a 3' oxer. Oh Harley... By the four hop over the "X", the lazies set in, and he knocked both poles clear down. I dismounted to fix it, and decided to change direction. (it finally stopped raining) A little work to the right, and after one big over-jump, he settled in for the poles and the "X" four times each. No problems. In fact, it was a bit funny. Most of the "X" jumps, he'd enter at trot, land in trot a few strides, then canter a couple, and ease back to trot. Never once did he rush into it, or away from it. It *feels* like he enjoys it, and I can't quite explain it fully. Very interesting. I'm jumpin' in the rain, just jumpin' in the rain!
We hadn't done much canter work, so after some solid walk break, I sent him out at canter. One circle in the middle, followed by one lap around the arena, both directions. Each canter brought the same result - he was reaching for the contact. I don't mean lenghtening his neck & face just a little, I mean nearly falling on the ground looking for the contact. He stumbled a couple times, which brought me to giggles. Harley! Pick your lazy self up! I gave in both directions, and shortened my reins just a touch to let him find the bit easily. When he reached the light contact, he backed off just a bit (enough to keep them loose), and kept on cantering. Delightful!
We finished up the ride with one more "X" left, since he toppled it his last left-attempt. No problems. I walked him out a good 5 minutes loose rein, and he was clearly pleased with himself. Me? I had a nice warm "hey, I did it" kind of feeling.