Formal practice in dressage has many aspects but it breakdowns into a practice guided by how we move in harmony with the horse through three basic gestures of feeling, being, and touching. To add to this are the ten directions which are the eight points of the compass plus up and down.
The touch has three qualities; light gentle and firm. Feeling contains cardinal, mutable and fixed. Being contains space with four densities (the elements of old). To this add cadence is always in three beats at least but usually four.
Writing this down has a certain value for those who are experientially introduced to these ideas but the simple intellectual grasp of these ideas may confuse more than they illumine. Mostly the seemingly complex array of principles serve no other purpose that a device to open up a world of very subtle feeling which form the foundation of the language of equitation.
Add to this an appreciation of the geometry and proportions of the structure and the native movements of the horse and we enter into a world that in the end, abandons the vestiges of verbal language. There are textures here that only an educated mind can experience/feel. We step beyond words and back to the mind of a child which is in us which is both good and kind.
It is always a surprise how hard people work to keep themselves from experiencing this kind of work while in the next moment they proclaim a love of the horse. Mistakes made in kindness and gentle approach are not really mistakes. Rather such actions are the dialog which between two beings who seek to communicate. This is an amazing experience when we can lay down suspicions and fears and open to the magic of simple being.
So the roots of practice unfold so much of who and what we are. We are always at once teacher and student. We feel, touch and simple are both amazing beings. Good instruction never forgets this enlightened birth. Experience in the practice of good dressage is in the spirit of being properly with the horse and our own self.