Realizing that the wisdom in dressage is not purely the product of human conception gives rise to a certain humility in our practice. The real art in dressage arises from the humble daily practice with the horse. We learn to mix our mind and the horse’s mind with an awareness of space and time. We establish control not from an aggression born of our fears but from a harmony born of our compassion fro the horse.
This is not about following ideas and rules that we impose upon the horse but from an awareness of what is needed in the moment to moment work. We appreciate, in our riding and handling of the horse, the discipline which the horse’s nature imposes on us and gladly accept it. So it is that we always seek to listen before imposing our intentions on the horse and the play of our aids takes on the cadence of the moment and the movement. We follow and act and then we follow again. Every touch of our aids fades into non touch only fro the gently touch to arise again. .
This cadence which naturally comes out of the horse’s movement is not about contraction as it is about relaxation and eventually an equanimity in the aids or should I say aid because the music of dressage is found in a singularity which is termed the “primary aid.” Secondary aids come an go to add clarity or on a whim which helps give the horse confidence rather than to impose our will. Here is what is hoped is found a simple explanation of the art not only of the riding but also of the teaching of good dressage because it is the instructors role to provide a way for the student to practice without fear.
The end result of practice is more a conversation with the horse than an imposition of the rider’s will. The outcome of this conversation is the same, the horse obeys and in the trained horse, obedience is both automatic and habitual. This is good dressage; light, gentle, kind and harmonious and of course it is very active and very fun for both the horse and human.