The correct application of aids for the horse is merely inactive learning, therefore the purpose of mastering the rider’s body should no longer be for the proper application of aids but instead for the clarity of a language, which leads the horse’s brain towards finding the best body and mental coordination which are most appropriate for the task.
The idea that the correct aids guarantee the correct horse’s response is a pie in the sky. In fact the horse responds to the rider’s aids in the same way he processes every aspect in his life, which is mainly to protect any muscle imbalance, morphological flaw or other problem.
For instance an unbalanced horse, would develop a compensation mechanism that can make him debilitated without any pathological change, no bone or soft tissue damage but simply developing and building-up a number of protective reflex contractions which in the long run will lead the horse to total crookedness, not considering the impact of bad training.
The same mechanism takes place in the horses mind when it responds to the rider’s aids.
A rider can learn the aids for the half pass or for the shoulder in, according to their conventional standards, yet still never being aware nor able to teach the right body coordination that allows the horse to benefit from such movement.
Kinesthetic active learning commences with a good understanding of the athletic demands and its performance giving a voluntary control through the engagement of the horse’s mind while researching for the appropriate body coordination.
Let’s take lateral bending as a good example. Lateral bending is always associated with a movement of transversal rotation which should be even on each side of the vertical axis. In reality no one is perfect in nature. This asymmetry leads to the case of a preferential rotation when one lateral bend is associated with the correct rotation and the other lateral bend associated with an inverted rotation. Correcting an inverted rotation involves the horse’s mental rendering and processing of his self-body coordination. In this case the application of aids will be completely ineffective because the horse will respond to the aids by protecting even more its problem. Very often the mistake is to increase the lateral bending of the neck which in fact will enhance even more the inverted rotation. Only the rider’s appropriate questions, may redirect the horse’s brain toward finding the right coordination. The conventional aids such as the inside leg and outside rein may influence the overall body posture but in this case will not have any effect on the inverted rotation.
Conventional education believes that repeating the movement does educate the horse’s body. Instead, a more modern and responsible approach should give credit to the horse capability to think. This is only possible through the application of a modern cognitive approach. Dressage movements are useless if the horse is not freely capable in finding a self-body coordination which allows him to perform to the athletic demand.
As in any relationship the aids must be functional, and should serve the purpose to help the horse to be more aware and to be free from a predetermined destiny.