Hey crazy lady, stop taking pictures for your blog and let's get this over with.
We're continuing with trot sets, which are a little boring, but necessary.
Last night, we worked up to 8 minute trot sets with 5 minute rests in between them. When I do these I ask him for only the most basic acceptance of the bit: don't giraffe, maintain a good clip, and occasionally I'll ask him to stretch out and down a little.
As he's getting stronger and fitter and more willing, I'm asking a little bit more. So toward the end of the second trot set, I picked up the reins a bit more and saw what I had.
We did some tentative leg yields that smoothed out surprisingly quickly, then some spiralling in and out.
I put him on circles and worked the bend a little bit, and was more firm in my outside rein and told him the circle would be what I proscribed, no more, no less. He softened up his jaw, finally, and blew out noisily.
Then I used the circles to really get him into the outside rein, and asked for a little more engagement and a bit more of a frame. And he gave it to me - beautifully. Then he gave me more. The last 2 minutes of the trot set were in a lovely, deep, soft frame that was very nearly true self-carriage. It lacked a little bit of forward, a little bit more push from the hind end, but it was the best work he's done in months.
I called it quits on that, because damn. He was tired but pleased with himself because I was so happy. We went for a bit of a wandering walk around the property, and he proceeded to try to drink every single puddle dry. Guess he got himself a bit more tired than I thought!