I have very little training in formal dressage - just what I needed to get through Training Level eventing competitions in college. But I've read, and tried to learn - there's a lot of good in modern (classical dressage) that I try to make use of with my horses. I think if you have forward, and rhythm, and relaxation, the rest matters less, and so long as your horse is happy and not forced or over bent, things are good.
Recently, Dawn has been offering me something different, and special. We've been working on softness for a long time - since I started riding her about 4 years ago. She's much less braced and much softer laterally and vertically than when I started working with her.
But just in the past week or 10 days, she's been offering me something new - something pretty amazing. One of the things we sometimes do in our morning ride, after our warm up at trot - pretty long and relaxed - is to do short/long trot, with long trot on the diagonals and short trot on the ends of the ring - I don't ask her for true collection or extension as she's in her late teens and she's not got the conformation to be able to easily do these things at her age.
Recently, when I ask for short trot - by "thinking" myself more vertical and reducing velocity while maintaining energy - without any leg - she's offering this - she arches her neck so that her poll is higher than I've ever seen it, tucks her face - I don't want her going behind the vertical - while staying very soft in the bridle - there's hardly any pressure at all on the reins - and slows her trot way down so the cadence is half that of a regular trot. I can't see it so I don't really know, but it feels like something halfway between a collected trot and passage - it's pretty magical. Since she's offering it and interested in doing it, we're playing with it, although not too much as I suspect it's pretty strenuous for her, although she seems very proud and satisfied with it.
Wish I could video it to see what we have . . .