Harley did all the work last night instead of me. I saddled him, and put him out on the longeline with side reins for about a half hour. A few minutes in, he realized the saddle pad felt a little funny on his back - itchie I bet from the hair I wasn't yet able to brush off of him. He tried to throw a fit, and ran into the side reins. That made an even bigger fit. I retrieved the longe whip to motivate him, which led to the teensiest bucking fit - once or twice. Totally calm, I just hung on, and sent him on forward until he got over it.
Finally, some nice work to the left - steady trot and canter without a fuss. Sent him right, where he was totally delightful. Hmm... back to the left, thinking maybe there was a soreness or a painful spot. Nope. That time he was better heading left. We stayed there a while, working on the trot to canter transitions, trying to keep him from tossing his head up and racing into the canter. A few nice ones, and I let him walk.
Towards the end, I unclipped the side reins to see what he'd do at walk heading left. He gave a big long & low stretch, reaching out with his body on every stride.. terrific. Clipped the side reins back on and turned him right. A little more trot and canter, followed by a circle of walk on the reins... And a few more laps with them off - more stretchie stretchie.
Things looked good by the end, but what a horrendous start. Will try to get a quick ride in tonight, as we're scheduled for some serious rains in the next two days - need to get going before we're flooded out again.