Good work with the horse is about opening yourself up to the horse. We may understand so much on a technical level and yet can understand so little of what is real and necessary to advance the connection with the horse which is necessary for effective training. It is always on the level of feeling that the relationship between horse and human meet and not the intellectual level.
Our education in dressage creates in us a certain view of our relationship with the horse but is not always as soft or as flowing as the horse may need. The problem arises when we seek to solidify any view whether on a physical, emotional or intellectual level. It is important to remind ourselves that the view is not the relationship and that the relationship can be sloppy and soft. Whether we teach ourselves (and in the end we always do teach ourselves) or we are instructed, the process of education is first learning the rules and then unlearning them. Rules arise as a device for teaching and they come from principles.
The solidification of dressage into a system of rules is always problematic. The rules should first and always serve the horse and not the other way around. In principles, clearly understood and followed, we work with what arises in the horse/human relationship. The heart is in action working with the mind to influence the body is a dressage which is open to what is present.
When our dressage is one in which we use aggression and emotion is used to enforce or contain the horse physically or emotionally, our vision of the relationship becomes obscured. Our dressage get in the way of your dressage. Critical judgement must always be made from the heart and not from rules. Generosity and kindness are always the only rules of wisdom.
How is this done? Relax, slow down and trust that the advancements which come from training are freely given gifts from a horse which is surrounded in loving kindness and not the horse who is judged and restrained. Let your dressage find softness and the freedom which is in your ability to “not know anything.” Let dressage surprise you and show you the wonder of the art.