Elana - Thanks for your input! I feel like this picture isn't very flattering of him. He doesn't usually have that "slipper" foot look. I've been working on extending him, but I'm not entirely sure what exercises to do. What do you suggest? I've tried alternating kicking at the walk, which is what I've been taught. But it's hard for me to tell if he's extending his legs or just moving faster.
Do not kick a horse to get them to move forward.. squeeze with your calves.. PUSH him forward and as you do release with yourhands to encourage him to lower his head and take longer strides. Horses work best if you squeeze, release... then squeeze again.. get the horse reaching under himself with his hind leg and dropping his head so he can move forward. You get the horse forward before asking for any collection.
At the walk sit up straight and ride him with a long-ish rein and use your legs to push him forward (NO kicking). If he does extend his strde, his head will drop and you will feel the hind leg reach under him.
When he learns to move forward from your leg, then start circles.. use the entire half of the ring and make them round. See if you can get him to 'track up' or get his hind foot to place in the same track as his front foot (not butt in or butt out). In the circle you are looking for a steady and strong inside leg ON the girth and a more active outside leg BEHIND the girth. Use a leading rein to the inside of the circle and relax the outside rein (separate your hands).
When you get this going for you in 1/2 the ring (it will take 1-2 weeks to get him doing this at the walk) start to spiral in toward the center of the circle and then back out. Watch for resistance and support him with your inside leg when you are doing this. Be sure to go equally in both directions.
Keep changing things up. Don't just do one thing. Keep him interested and calm.. doable at the walk.
When you get him moving forward and supple at the walk, start doing the same exercises at the trot....
Training a horse is a Long SLOW process. The horse needs to learn what you are asking and be physically and mentally able to respond.
Only after you get him going forward well do you introduce collections and the half halt....
When someone watches you ride your leg aids to the horse should be subtle.. not overtly noticeable. Kicking is not necessary. If a horse deadens his leg to you, get a long dressage whip and use it immediately behind your outside leg. Usually you can just lay iton the horse and the horse will respond. Rare is the horse that needs you to actually pop him with the whip (tho I have had a few of those!)
He usually doesn't swish his tail, I think part of that was there were people coming back from a trail ride and horses getting out of the trailer that were distracting him and he doesn't enjoy having to work while other horses get to play. Haha. I usually ride alone, so I can't go on trails, and our trails are relatively flat. What other exercises will build his abdominal muscles?
Distractions are part of riding. When he is distracted, have him do something he is very good at doing to take his mind off the distraction. I do not know your area or your skill level but I always rode my horse out alone.. trails and roads and so forth.
Caveletti will help him build abdominal muscles (poles on the ground or up on blocks.. 4 of them.. spaced at first so he can walk through them and then space them so he can trot thru them.. match his strides at first). Remember to let him have his head so he can lower it, stretch out his back and curl his abdomin and pick his feet up hing.