Training my horse beginner dressage
Okay, my horse and I are really getting into dressage. I've decided I wanted to start him off really slow, and simpler, because I understand dressage is a slow process, and I realize I will have to be very patient. But, before we do some stuff, I wanted to ask a few questions.
Okay, so we're starting with something not too terribly hard. Standing square. I don't know if it's required at the beginner level, but I know it'll probably be best if he does it, in the long run. I am teaching him this but halting him, giving him a second or so to place his feet, then dismounting, and backing him up and moving him forward a step or two until he gets it right. Then I make a big deal of it, praising and patting him. Then I remount. I have to dismount because normally nobody else is down there watching me, and I want to make sure he completes the stand square halt correctly. He's catching on it, and is getting it on the first try more often now. I never place his feet for him by picking them up because I know he needs to learn to place them himself.
I am also going to work on free walking. I know it's pretty common, but I would like to master it pretty well. I know the horse has to put his head down, and the ride has to loosen contact with her reins, but keep a soft contact with the mouth. It's definitely not a lazy walk, but I'm a little confused on this one. I can't just pray he puts his head down. He needs to know how to do it, I can't expect him to because he doesn't know it! Also, with this one, is there a certain way he needs to place his hooves? I want to make sure I understand all of this fully before I teach him, so I know exactly what to teach.
Eventually, we'll be working on backing up. Because I'm down there by myself, I tried taking him up to three poles on buckets, laid in a rectangle with one short missing side. He went into it, and I pulled back on the reins, and squeezed lightly, and he backed up! I plan on trying backing him out longer each time, until he's completely out of the 'rectangle,' and backing away from it. But we're not quite there yet!
I also wanted to teach him to do a flying change, but that will come a lot later. He needs to pick up on the correct lead every time before we get there!
He's also picking up on turn on the forehand, but we aren't focusing on that at the moment. I don't want to rush him, but if he can do it, that's great!
Okay, I'm sorry for such a long message. My questions are:
Is it required at beginner level?
Is it okay for me to mount and dismount like that while training?
Is there a certain way he has to place his hooves?
Could my technique possibly work?
Is there something I should teach him before these movements? (He's developed great medium gaits, with a fantastic bouncy dressage canter.)
If you could answer any of my questions, that would be great! If you have any exercises we could try to get him ready for one of these moves, tips, or even training techniques, please let me know.
Oh, and as a little side note, for if we get there, (and I understand it will take years to train this) What are collected and extended gaits exactly? And which should be taught first at which gait (I'm assuming extended walk, but I want to check.)