One of the most important ideas in classical dressage is the release of the aids. It is not just a test of self carriage but really much more. The idea of lightness is a very attractive one but it is not just throwing the reins away or a sort of using the bit which becomes metaphorically bitless.
In good dressage one needs to learn to let go properly. Once you have proper training in how to let go, one realizes that it is not just about the reins and bit. Letting go is also psychological. One learns how to stop or limit the ambition in performing movements and eliminate any frivolity in the aids altogether. From this release you then can discover that you can give the horse a great sense of confidence in their balance and find your proper balance.
Balance doesn’t come from holding on to the horse or your ambitions to produce some effect in a given situation. Balance comes from making friends with the horse and learning to trust yourself. and the earth: the earth as it manifests as gravity becomes a reference point for us and the horse. This creates breathing space where we and the horse can actually establish psychological balance. This is the foundation of calm and trust. The release of the aids is the release also the release of the mind giving the horse time to think and the freedom to obey the request of the rider.
Proper training and proper release is the harmonization of the technical consideration with the moment to moment movement of the horse and human body acting in harmony. Without this gentle cadence harmony the release cannot be complete. This training of the horse and rider requires trust and confidence. There must be gentleness and free from fear or anxiety of reprisals.
Here is the simplicity of good dressage for by release and doing nothing we achieve everything with the horse. Softness, kindness and gentle connection is the only foundation which can allow good dressage to be.