"And the day when you decide to put in significant effort and you get on that horse and your do a maneuver and it feels like all you did was think about it and you and the horse did it.. you will know why people who train horses put in that significant effort."
Sorry, but I HAVE put significant effort into training a horse (5 years), and been happy with the results, without using a training scale designed for dressage. I do not train for collection because the terrain I ride in doesn't reward collection. Nor do my goals require collection.
Not all training does or should include training for collection. That is the point of the debate.
" Learned from reading (which I do applaud) and observing (which is also admirable) but not from doing."
On the contrary. Most of what I know has been learned by doing it with my horses, and seeing how they respond. Frankly, what I see in many experienced riders is that they accept what they were told when learning without questioning - particularly among dressage fans.
Riding a horse with contact on the bit is not required. A natural headset, as used by the Cavalry, is a "proper" and "balanced" way of riding. Neck reining is a "proper" way of riding, although not 'on the bit'.
"The western horses have learned to collect, and to balance and to work off their hind quarters and raise the root of their neck as have the dressage horses."
And if someone wants to teach them that, it is OK. It is not required for a horse to move balanced, or be responsive, or strong. It will not increase their lifespan.
Science trumps tradition. So does logic. A horse moving with suspension is working harder to move than a horse without. If the goal is to look pretty, that is fine. Ballet is fine, but it isn't how I move around in my life. Too much work, too little reward. I don't want my horse to work hard covering a little ground. I don't want them to carry themselves in a way that works best in an arena. I want them to move fluidly, and efficiently.
What puzzles me is why some dressage fans think a horse moving inefficiently is more desirable, OUTSIDE OF SOME SPORTS, than one moving efficiently and fluidly.
BTW - I also don't train my horse to do sliding stops. Nor do I train them to do 360 degree spins. Reining is fun to watch, but doesn't apply to the world my horses and I live in.
In our world, anything that makes the foot land harder is bad. A horse that doesn't think where it is about to put each foot is bad. In this environment, the horses LIKE pavement. Pavement is easier on their feet. Pavement is level. Trails are not. Pavement doesn't have gullies. Trails do. Pavement doesn't come with cactus inches from your legs. Trails do. It is hot, and there will be no water for the horses until we get back. Efficiency is critical. Looking impressive for the spectators...not so much!
This is not the world of jumpers. It is not the world of dressage. It is a world that requires strength, balance, control, responsiveness - but not collection.