Correctness is not an excuse to torment the horse nor is a reason to punish yourself.There is no equitation police who will come and arrest you when you make a mistake with your horse. While good dressage is “correct” dressage, it is not about aggressively enforcing yours or any other belief system on the horse.
Correctness in dressage is gentle and quiet. It is not hard nor aggressive. It is in fact a cradle of loving kindness which consists of the aids which surround the horse.
The aids know the cadence. They touch and let go. They hold without holding. This is called “self carriage.” The only choice which the horse can make is to stay in that cradle because training and experience has led the horse to believe that the aids are the door to all that is kind and easy.
So the aids are learned by the mind and they manifest through the body. If this was all there was to it then a few books and some practice would make us all excellent riders but there is more. What makes the aids correct is neither body nor mind and that is the tricky part.
What makes the aids correct is the heart. All great riders have a heart connection with the horse. This is the invisibility of the aids. Correct aids are invisible because the gentle heart meets the gentle heart. Only the open heart of the rider can open the heart of the horse and this is the key.
There is no force which can make any horse obey other than the force of affection and that energy is only available to one who is kind, generous, patient and gentle. This is lightness. Exertion, the goodness of the horse and rider joined together finds lightness. Correct and simple is the conversation between two hearts. This is proper dressage.