The point of the cultivation of excellence in dressage is that the human/horse relationship can be worked out in such a way that both beings benefit. This is a simple matter but not necessarily easy.
Good dressage dispels the neurotic conditions that prevail in the horse/human relationship which expresses itself through aggression, fear and ignorance. There is no art or beauty to be found in such an approach.
For a true beauty and art to occur, it requires effort which is a natural expression of our love and commitment to the horse and of course to ourselves. We give the horse the gift of an expansion of language and the horse gives us in exchange the opportunity to find in ourselves something precious which is beyond language.
Working with the horse is not a matter of projecting your power onto the horse to subjugate it. It is not forcing the horse to listen to what you have to say, obeying your every command. This is just the opposite of good dressage.
Finding the way to good work is about a path of kindness, sympathy and gentleness. That is the essence of the nobility and art in the work. Finding this is learning to be genuine and trust in your own heart.
It is sad to see a dressage which is aggressive and ego driven which cares more about appearance and display than the horse. Such work also damages us by hardening our hearts to each other and the horse.
Dressage was never about a pretension of nobility. The old masters did not need to pretend to be noble, they simply were noble. While we all are not of noble birth, we can learn to rest in our own basic nobility which is and has always been present.
Viewed from even a glimpse of an awakened state of mind, modern dressage is the emperor’s new clothes with a very ugly emperor parading naked. All that one can say is, “Really? Dude, puts some clothes on.”
That, however, is not a problem we can do much about except to try to not look too closely. Which is exactly what everyone seems to do. Modern dressage only stands up if you do not look at it too closely.
On the positive side, what we can do however is be willing to work at our own issues. Find what is authentic and kind by learning to find the trust in your heart.
Trust only appear when there is no fear or aggression. Stop doing so much and relax into being with the horse. Out of this, a gap appears and gentleness comes. This is how we find that training can occur without effort and so the horse helps us find the way.
Good dressage is learning to be a good human. None of us, as far as I can tell are perfect, but small efforts over time help us find the way. In a greater view, kindness never loses and aggression never wins.
Seeing this the other way around is only an illusion created by time. It takes bravery to explore this path but sooner or later, experience and time brings us to noble dressage. Your horse hopes for it to be sooner rather than later.