There are many kinds of dressage. Each of us who attempt, on a practical level, to work with the horse, in essence, formulates our own dressage.
It is important to understand that such individual formulations in dressage or the supplication of the individual dressage to any method should always take into considerations the benefit of the horse both in the short and long term.
The nature of good dressage is that it attempts to encourage a wholesome existence for ourselves and the horse. Implied in this are lightness, kindness and gentleness but most importantly is the cultivation of empathy and compassion for both yourself and your horse.
It is doubtful that many practitioners of dressage intentionally choose to harm the horse and yet too many horses are harmed by well intended and misguided practitioners. So from this, we can conclude that in a proper education in dressage must include a willingness to reflect on our actions.
The central goal of all training is to learn to abide in peace with the horse before we even begin to consider anything else. There is no posture or forwardness which is of any value if it is not solidly rooted in the calm confidence of the horse. The kindness in which our aids envelop the horse leaves no doubt in the horse’s mind as to our intentions.
Good dressage cannot be separated from calm. Calm in motion is called forward and straightness is the proof of a balanced mind and body which functions in full self-awareness. These three attributes (calm, forward and straight) are not just about the horse but about the linking of two beings( horse and human) to a common purpose; a wholesome common experience.