Thanks to Trish (shoveltrash on EE) I actually rode with my brain engaged yesterday. After a tip off from Claire I was able to read up Trish's notes on the raising hand to help the curl back. I think we are at similar places and it was really helpful to compare notes.
I started with some in-hand jaw relaxation, leg stretches etc and then moved on to lunge. After less than ten minutes I was getting a nice soft stretchy trot AND bingo the boy has caught on to the click and double click. I use a soothing *good* to let him know he's on the right track, a click to tell him *yes, spot on* (but keep it up and don't stop for the treat yet) and then the double click for *OK brilliant, stop for your treat*. It works well on the lunge when you don't want them to keep stopping for the treat.
On to the ridden work. Straight away I could tell he was relaxed, no tension in his brain and the walk work was very positive. By that I mean he was able to contain the walk, not rush (well only a little) and we worked on giravolta, leg yield, shoulder-in etc. I found it really helpful to use the counter shoulder in as it helps him to balance better having the fence there and so we moved from counter to true and interspersed this with small circles. His rein back is so much better too as he doesn't lean on my hands and takes really distinct steps now.
Trot work followed and that's where the brain really clicked in; I found if I carried my hands higher but with only a light contact I could raise my hands quickly into the corners of his mouth and get him to take his balance back and off my hands every time he curled back behind my hand. It meant that I could actually put my leg on and ride him forwards....a first!! It probably does look bizare but the trot I got was much better balanced and free from tension, of course my ultimate intention is to return my hands to a lower position once he *gets it*. I only did a short trot session as I think he needs to go slowly (me too) with this work and I'm so happy with our progress that I don't want to wreck it by being impatient.
Off now to give him a nice lunge and some massage.