That's a step forward folks, and I'll take it. There are far too many of the two steps backwards days not to celebrate those days when stuff's going right.
Chemaine helped me see how to ride him with a very giving contact while still keeping him under control. In fact, I have a droopy inside rein now. I play with it, and he lets it go. When I let go of the inside rein, and HE lets go of the inside rein, we can get a better bend and his inside hind leg can step through.
So now as I ride, I focus all of my attention on "regulating" his rhythm (my new favorite dressage word - thanks, Chemaine!) and playing with the inside rein. When I put those things together correctly, he carries himself in a very cute little frame and even occasionally stretches down.
When I got on him for round two, we trotted into the scary end of the arena without incident. And then we cantered to the left and cantered to the right. We did lots of trot circles that included changes of direction and even some large serpentines.
Like Chemaine said, right now it's all about regulating the rhythm for him. And you know what's funny? Not haha funny, but doh! funny. Rhythm is the bottom tier of the Dressage Pyramid - immediately followed by relaxation. I knew that of course, but it just makes me shake my head when I see it actually happening.