A definition for envelop is to enclose or surround with a non solid material or medium (Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary). The aids will be what we are considering here.
A definition of envelope is the suggestion of atmosphere surrounding the subject of a painting or sculpture. In this case the horse is our sculpture.
Both words had other meanings but I selected the ones that apply and would be most illuminating for our work with the aids and dressage in general.
The aids envelop the horse and are the container in which the horse must exist when we are riding (and in any of the work for that matter) but they also form an envelope in which the horse must be confident in.
Confidence here has two meanings. It is at once, a reference to a specific pattern of how we use our aids (envelopment) and also a general feeling the horse must have about the envelope.
When we work with our horses we must always keep the view of the envelope and see how we envelop the horse to communicate our intent. The envelope has, as a container, cadence and breathes with the horse and envelopment must never deprive the horse of it freedom.
Envelopment must have 3 aspect to it; male, female and neutral. In action it is toward the horse, away from the horse and neutral which is either non touch or fixed touch. This is how we “speak” and the envelope is always a container which supports confidence without an object. The horse must feel freedom in everything and confidence is both gentle and light.
Here is a simple reflection for better dressage. Confidence which is most needed in a good riding horse and arises from correct envelopment and a healthy envelope (self carriage and descent of the aids). Aggression has no place in the use of the aids because when it arises the envelope and the envelopment creates distress and calm is the first victim. Forward is next smothered or else is an explosion which cannot be contained and finally straight will never be.
Upper level or lower level is the same at this level. Good dressage is the envelopment without loss of the freedom found in the envelope.