My horse Duke, is very responsive. But for the longest time I could not get connected with him and I didn't understand how to properly communicate. My trainer put up four cones in a rectangular pattern. She had me walk it first and at each cone I did a circle. At first the circles were awful, but after repeating them so many times they started to get round and more supple. Plus I learned to use me seat and legs not just my reins. She would also have me ask for a stop in the middle of the longer part of the rectangle. After Duke and I could go to the right and left well and our circles were nice and we stopped nicely we started with the trot. Eventually because he was asked to do something new, or move some part, or listen.. he decided to pay attention all the time! This exercise is how I have established a nice relaxed trot. If he really does not want to pay attention at all, I make him stop, back up and flex his neck to both sides until his expression softens and he is in-tune to me. I make sure that I am patient and slow to get irritated with him, it tends to back fire if I get mad!
Any way, hope that helps!