Anyway, in the first pic I post and the first one you brought up again, I have a couple questions just as far as learning more to identify aspects of dressage. Riding that day, his steps were really (like extremely) short, fast, and choppy. He had actually hollowed his back a ton (not sure its very visible in this picture) and he was really, really learning on my hands. This was one of the days that his tripping was really bad. But over all you like this picture, because of how he is using his hind? I can see that he is using it better than in this last picture, but its hard to see past the other glaring flaws in my memory from riding it.
That's the thing about pictures, a still frame doesn't account for the rest of the ride, or the feel.
Compared with the other ones, I like how he's trying to get there. But yeah he isn't completely there yet. I think if you take up the rein, you need to use your seat and leg to push them forwards so you don't inadvertently pull on the reins and cause them to brace against you (heavy in hands?)
Like I said before, a horse using their back is a LOT of work so it's not going to be perfect all of the time.
You really have to follow the training scale. Do you know about the scale? Some info: http://www.classicaldressage.co.uk/T...ng_scales.html
You can't focus on the more advanced things without first getting the basic things down. They all mesh together, but there's a certain method to the madness :P
You asked about what you should be looking for (again I'm a novice) but what I like to see is the horse really stepping under themselves instead of digging with their fronts and engaging those back muscles.
But if a horse isn't forward relaxed and with rhythm then you shouldn't be looking for contact or impulsion yet. If his strides are choppy, then he's probably not relaxed and having an established rhythm (again.. novice, making educated guesses as I wasn't riding him nor there.)
And again.. Kayty and Anebel are MUCH better at explaining it than me as they are way more experienced lol.