One of the primary reasons we experience the horse as resistant and even threatening is that they threaten our sense of worthiness. While true of all of us, it is particularly true in dressage. Instructors, trainers. and those who lay pretense to expertise frequently find themselves so placed.
Then, if and when simple aggression fails to secure the results desired, all too often our vanity finds technical excuses and bits and other devices obtained from the tack shop to inflict our will. If these fail, then our “science” consists in upping the aggression.
The experienced “horse person” who knows what is socially acceptable, knows how to apply these devices to force an obedience which could have been obtained by simple, but educated kindness most easily. Then by the weight of common judgment the abuse of the horse is deemed necessary. Fame and gain await those who can cloak their aggressions.
The simple solution of kindness is to understand that posture is the first step and when we or the horse feels unworthy what follows is a mental state of bewilderment which is distressed or obnoxious. Mindful of posture and aware of placement, the horse learns to support the rider and the rider learns to allow the horse comfort.
The goodness of dressage is that it restores to the horse its basic sense of worthiness. This sense of value is awareness in action and is a goodness which seeks to balance concerns of mind and body.
From this place, fear and heavy emotions can take no hold in the mind which is trained. Simple equipment and kind application with educated clear communication are all that is needed.
A dressage of goodness is possible; deceptively meek, it controls with an invisible hand not by fighting the horses force but by cooperation with the energies present and directing those forces to a mutually desirable end.
Offering this possibility is not the same as training a horse or a rider and that is all that can be done in because language cannot encapsulate the experience of such a dressage. A dressage of goodness must be experienced first hand because it can never live in words. Words can only seek to suggest the reality with the hope of seduction for the sake of the horse.