Caught Harley, dressed him to ride. In the arena, I attempted to put his bridle on (to add side reins & the longe line), and he backed away from me. After walking clear to the back of the arena, I was able to retrieve him, bridle, and with side reins, off he went on the line. He was fighting it, stiff and awkward.10-15 minutes of that, and I hopped on.
Stiff and awkward continued in the saddle. He argued about almost everything, and when he did round, it wasn't for long. I worked him in transition after transition, only allowing him to continue at the gait when he wasn't fighting. A few long walk stretch breaks didn't even help. Some canter work, and he was totally twisted and horrid ugly. Lots of hanging on the front end, even with some sharp leg from me. It seemed nothing I was doing was going to lighten him up.
I rode TL #1, well, I thought I did. I realized after that I'd ridden the entire thing backwards. I got the pieces in, and other than one break at canter-left (first straight line was good, second he broke right after the half circle), we went right back to transitions again. I ended up riding trot/canter/trot with only a few canter strides before he finally lightened up.
Almost instantly, I had obedience. He started to round up at the trot, and his canter was correct. Not a twisted face, and certainly not round and collected, but at least he was bent to the inside, and staying UP in the stride rather than lazy. Finally, if I got what I wanted from him for a few strides at once, I'd loosen my hands a bit. Shorten them back up, and while he would argue a little, at least he wasn't twisting his whole face around.
With the new light and forward, I glanced at my watch. Nearly an hour. I pushed a little bit longer for some additional trot work, and then I quit. Tossed the reins completely away, and took my feet out of the irons. A job well done, despite the huge long argument. Total work 1 hr.
Hosed him off, doused him in a vetrolin/water mix, allowed him to air dry a bit munching grass, and slapped poultice on lower legs. He had a big day. He fought, but finally gave, and knowing we're going to trailer and work hard tomorrow, I did all I know to do to help ease the muscle tension I'm sure he'll have from this morning's work.
I glanced at my watch. I took a brief self-assessment of how I was feeling. Ugh. Not super sore, not super tired, not overly hot, just run-down. Not able to ride Mo as planned. Maybe this evening I'll be able to take him out for a spin. For now, though, a hot shower, and some rest is in order.