Dominance should not be the goal.
In regards to the third collective mark; instead of calling it submission, could it not be called co-operation instead?
We know it’s largely semantics, but it would hopefully lead to a shift in mindset. We’ve just seen so many riders lately (like this one!) who seem to be focusing so much on making the horse “submit”, they completely lose sight of what the word actually means in relation to the discipline.
Submission in dressage is characterized by suppleness, looseness/fluidity of gaits (or “lightness and ease of the movements”, if you prefer), the horse is responsive to rider aids and moves forward into a proper contact (not leaning on the reins, not behind or above the bit). It should mean a horse that is relaxed and highly responsive; it has nothing to do with how well you can force you horse into highly unnatural positions. To ask for submission you DO NOT need to crank the horse’s nose in to his chest! Notice we used the word “ask” for submission – this is accomplished through soft, steady contact with the horse’s mouth, correct leg aids encouraging (not nagging) the horse forward into the contact and an independent seat. Too often we see riders using obvious shortcuts to force the horse into a parody of what submission should be.
While an open mouth is typically a sign of resistance, cranking the horse’s jaw closed does not fix the problem; it simply masks it. Similarily, a horse going around with his nose in the air is usually moving heavily on the forehand and is hollow through the back. Forcing his nose in does nothing to fix the actual quality of movement, but it’s how many riders choose to deal with the issue. We found an excellent article on how to develop “submission” here. It emphasizes many times the importance of keeping the horse relaxed through the process, and to reward progress with release. The end result should be a horse who is happy to respond to every signal his rider gives him. Not a horse who simply has no other choice.