Getting a reaction you want out of the horse should not be goal #1 (...). Mental stability, health and even happiness should be goal 1 of any owner/trainer.
Amen to that!
I think that for me, when I got in touch with bridleless dressage the first time (through Nevzorov really!
), the biggest eye-opener.
Of course every trainer will say the words 'It's not about the exercises, only about the horse, dressage isn't there for the ego of the humans but for the horse' etc., but when I realised that you could also train horses to move collected at liberty - that was the first thing I stumbled over (and fell flat on my face
) when I started experimenting with this myself also: I realised that I had always used the words, but never convinced the ponies of them with my actions. Suddenly now that the ponies were free to ignore me and walk off when I was annoying them with another question for that same exercises, I realised that I was always raising myself and my wishes above those of the ponies. Of course I didn't train only to achieve a perfect shoulder-in, but I would ask that way too much, being convinced that I knew better then them how to do it, when to do it and how to perfect it. So yes, releasing the ponies of their tack (and in our case also the whip and the cordeo) in practice meant that I spent a lot of training time without pony.
Of course there are shortcuts to 'fix' that problem, and that's really how I see the interdicts now, but you can also go through that and not see it as a problem of the horse, but instead as a problem that lies with you and cure the cause, not patch up the consequence. But luckily as sane human beings, we're all free to choose whether we use the shortcut, or go the real way. And if you choose the latter, I think you can still draw inspiration from the things Alexander does well - and one of the things he really does well is to show that it really is possible, bitless collection. We just have to find our own way towards that ourselves, and that might not be the way Alexander uses himself. But I think that that that doesn't just go for him, but also for all other classical dressage trainers, NH trainers and other people we can learn from.
New horse book: Mandala horses!
Never stop making mistakes! Natural Dressage