This is so interesting, egrogan, thank you for your reply!
Funny that - in Europe, basic dressage training for beginners included all the arena figures at all the basic paces, plus rein-back the exact number of steps indicated, plus turn on the forehand, plus simple change of leg at the canter (usually in a figure-8, which is the easiest way to ride it), plus cavaletti work, plus jumping simple obstacles competently.
Flying changes I taught myself and my Arabian mare out of books, and was a big party trick for us, she did them really well. Ditto different tempi, influencing of stride length versus frequency, working properly on the bit with impulsion, transitions without intermediate gaits, etc etc. We were pretty isolated living in the middle of nowhere in Australia and I worked with an occasional stills camera. I appreciate that people have different learning styles, but I think we all learn by doing with horses, and whether the technical information and riding programme comes verbally from a trainer or from a written medium and other form of feedback (such as photography or competition) hasn't mattered to me, having experienced both.
And when we came to Australia, on one occasion we actually went to all the trouble to get me to pony club with my mare for a rally when I was 15, and everyone oohed and aahed, instructor included, because we did turns on the forehand and exact steps requested rein-back and a few other things I'd learnt in my basic course in Germany as a 9-year-old. They were still working, after years of having horses, at such a basic level - sitting properly, basic transitions, cantering, nothing more complicated on offer - it was pointless to attend, and I competed instead with the quota of float trips I was allowed, and almost always very successfully. I couldn't have done that without the excellent resource library I had at my disposal. My basic manuals were Australian Tom Roberts' quartet of horse and rider training manuals and they were so superb, you could imagine the feel you were after in your head before you got on the horse. I read them voraciously and applied them, and cross-read other people's ideas as well to get potentially different approaches. TR was great because he always had multiple ways of dealing with particular problems, not a one-size-fits-all approach.
I am so glad people like that have taken the trouble to write all this stuff down to pass it on to others (which TR did in his 70s when he was wheelchair bound by arthritis and no longer able to instruct in person). Like Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." It's a pity that some very tall giants appear to be dismissed because they speak from the grave...through the printed word.
I like bsms' posts too. He digs up good giants on a regular basis and writes most entertainingly!