Rhythm is first. It's basically getting the horse going forward (which is different from impulsion) and evenly, not speeding up or slowing down. Along with this the horse needs to go on a line and not be falling in and out on a circle (this is different from straightness).
Relaxation is that the horse is accepting the aids and responding to them without tensing up. This leads into the next step...
Contact is where the horse who is going rhythmically forward, on the aids and relaxed takes the bit forward and down. He is moving from back to front and this connection leads to...
Impulsion or schwung is the feeling of the "bridge" over the back. The horses steps become lighter, more defined and the beginnings of self carriage are felt.
Straightness then has to do with our ability to keep the horse moving on train tracks, but with a bend. Lateral work helps us to get the horse straight and strong.
Finally is collection, of which there are many degrees. It is with the development of increased impulsion and straightness that the horse becomes strong enough, coordinated enough and in enough self carriage to shift the weight over the hindlegs and become "packaged" from back to front. This is a constant process... second level is the first place where collection is seen, but the frame and the collection is far less than a GP horse... through the levels the horse is constantly strengthened and the degree of collection increased.
If we understand the scale, it is infact in the correct order. It is just important to realize that the development of the horse is continuous and constantly improving each step to increase collection.
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I agree 100% with Anabel. That's gotta be a first. But she explained it perfectly!