What makes something correct is not a matter of who can be more aggressive, you or the horse. Correctness is not a competition. It is actually both simple and gentle. When aggression acts against correctness, the aggression is mirrored back towards the aggressor. This maybe a hard concept to wrap one’s head around.
The nature of being truly correct attends to itself, which proper actions do over time. To be correct is to be certain of the outcome. Aggression prevails in a moment perhaps but it only sustains itself by constant energy against the gentle flow of what is correct.
Most of what is called correct in dressage is so only by nature of appearance but such false appearances involve high levels of aggression which must be supported by states of high negative emotion. The vision of this is very difficult to see because the “normal” default setting in modern dressage is founded in aggression. Softness, lightness and gentleness are constantly mocked and in general disbelieved as a path to success in the dressage world.
We always have to show the horse who the boss is. We have to be armored constantly because everyone (falsely) knows that kindness will ruin the horse. We need strong contact, strong bits, mechanical devices, spurs, double bridles and harsh use of the whip and strong aids to enforce our will. At all costs we must press the horse into a frame and every moment of every ride the horse must look Grand Prix, even at training level. There are so many level of acceptable violence that we use, all justified by a popular and misguided sense of correctness.
So the question remains, how does one find and work with what is really correct? How does one find what to accept and what to reject in the moment to moment, day to day work? The answer is personal and quite. It does not jump up and down in front of you. It is so fragile and light, gentle and kind and it is totally missing the drama of it all. Those who know this world of correctness can’t talk about it and those who don’t never stop talking about it.
In the end, real dressage is very personal. It was never about anything that most consider important or in what others think. It is more about who you are and in the kindness and compassion you learn to express to the horse.
You may never get approval, acclaim or fame. Those one must leave far behind. It is in the heart that is not poisoned by arrogance, that has found the highland and has put the horse first. Such dressage is found in a mercy which leaves fears behind. The horse knows no mistakes or resistances in the work until we create them.
This gentle way can be taught and this can be learned. This I know from experience but how it is done is different from each one. There will never be a book written of how correctness is found and how it is done. How correctness is found and how to work with it is the secret you keep from yourself. Hear the whisper of the heart and never give up.