I got out to ride today! Alas, I didn't have my camera with me. However, either you're all really good at communicating what to do or doing some crazy ESP thing with my horse. I picked a few things to focus on today, and it went really well! I did exactly what you suggested, and he responded exactly how I'd hoped.
1) I stayed off his back as best I could. I did stay balanced, but I was leaning WAY forward. Oh well, I stayed on, stayed in control, and was able to communicate with him really well. But, my back and thighs are going to be killing me tomorrow! I almost felt like I was in jockey position....
2) I shortened up my stirrups by two holes, which contributed to the leaning forward. Oh well - I'll worry about my "form" when I have a trainer - right now, I'm mostly concerned about his comfort!
3) I tried to ask for "impulsion". He was moving out really well, though not running away with me. Before I got on, I lunged him at a walk and trot, but mostly focused on the walk. I kept him moving, but he was a little confused that I wasn't asking him to trot. He got turned around a couple times when I tried to slow him down, but I think he finally got the idea. Either way, his back hoof was landing about 4-5 inches in front of where his front hoof had been. Same goes for riding. I kept contact on the bit, so he got the idea we weren't changing gait, bur rather taking bigger steps. He did very well at the walk and the trot. His trot was quite peppy today, and really gave me a workout keeping him under me but not sitting down!
4) I kept contact on the bit. His head was about withers-height or lower for almost the entire ride, but we still kept up our "impulsion". He even dropped his head down pretty low, remembering our last ride, while moving out. I kept a "drag" on the reins, so he got a release but was also able to slide the reins through my hands when he stretched his head down. I really don't think he had his nose up and out at all.
I think actually collecting him - i.e. taking that horizontal energy and making it vertical - may be a little beyond me for now and I'll work on that when I have a trainer. However, if I can get him to relax and move freely, which he seemed to be doing today, I'm happy. I definitely want to be sure he's engaging that hind end, though, and lifting his back. Ultimately lifting his back is what I'm looking for so he doesn't get sore due to that. I'm going to try to ride again tomorrow, and I'll be sure to bring my camera if I do. I'd really like some feedback as to how his movement is now, if there's anything else I should work on in my riding (as in, simple band-aids to make sure he's able to move correctly, and then I'll get better when I have a trainer to show me how), and, most importantly, if he really is hallowing his back and building tension.
One more note - a few months after I got him last winter and started riding him regularly (which he hadn't ever been ridden too regularly), he started foaming up with the bit. As in, instant bubble bath foam-going-everywhere slobber. It wasn't because he liked the bit, but rather because he was so stressed he'd instantly foam up. This is why I moved him into something bitless. However, these last few times that I've ridden him in a bit, he's had a little foam on the bit but not enough to leak outside his mouth. I'm really happy about that - he seems so much happier! Maybe it's because it's been a while, but I really think it's because I'm allowing/helping him to relax and enjoy the ride, too. He was very easy to catch today (he's been a little stand-offish lately), accepted the bit, and was overall very pleasant today. I hope this is a sign that he's benefitting from these exercises!