Testing Harley's knowledge, and my education. Longed him for only a few minutes in the side reins. It became apparent quickly that he was ready for me on board, and not chasing him in circles.
Rode a lot of walk at the start, lots of serpentines. Lots of bending and stretching. He was bending right, fighting left. I got a little submission, asked for a few leg yields with decent results.
Worked up to trot, and after a little while circling and turning, I asked him to step up the energy. It got a little better. I am seriously considering pulling out the pointy stick spurs just one time, see if I can't wake him up a little bit. I started to think about some canter, when I saw a momma doe and two fawns in the pasture. You gotta be kiddin' me! I shoo'd them, well, sort of. Momma went the way I wanted her to. The fawns ducked into the trees. crap..
So I hurried up & rode Harley three times each way over the canter distance in TL#1. He fought that bit HARD going left, but was polite going right. Okay .... interesting.
Back to trot work. I rode the 3 circle pattern over trot both ways, and asked him to lengthen on the straight-aways. Good results. Asked him to stretch out down the diagonal for a direction change, and he really got moving. Super!
I saw the fawns squirt out of the trees away from the arena, so I figured that was a good time to try out the 3 circle pattern at canter. He was much better. One gait break going left. I did learn something though... I am used to sitting deep and driving with my seat at canter to ask for more. I found myself sitting super tall and almost driving from the front of my seat at canter-right. I wasn't having to add a lot of leg, and I wasn't having to spur at all. I tried the same thing at canter-left, with good results. While still fighting the bit some, Harley was moving out without a lot of pressure.
Note to self.. need to try that at the trot, see what happens.
I rode him a while longer at the trot, asking for some straight lines, and some more energy. I got some big trot (okay, big for Harley), and called it a day.
Definitely more canter than we've been riding, but he seemed to be good for it. :) His breathing recovered at the end of the ride in the walk-out about as quick as mine did. Fabulous.