I'm at a point now where I feel the need to be attentive to and aware of the whole horse as I work - now that's not at all to say that I can always sustain this awareness reliably or for extended periods of time, but I'm getting better with practice and at least I have some idea of the need to be aware.
For me, the next step is to be more aware of myself in my interactions with the horse, but without losing the awareness of the horse - I need to have both. Once again, we humans - I'm generalizing from my own experience but I'll bet the generalization applies to many of us - tend to be pretty unaware of our own habitual "expression" - by which I mean the level of energy we usually carry, our posture, how we move our bodies and how our bodies interact with the body of the horse. Once again, we live so much in our heads, and our internal chatter, that we tend to lose this fundamental awareness of ourselves.
Dawn is really helping me with this work - she's a great teacher. She's exquisitely sensitive and objects to the too big, too clumsy movements, cues and degree of energy I often bring to her. I just do what I usually do and she points out to me where I'm unaware or overdoing it. To the extent she gets bracey or inattentive, it's often her telling me "you're too dull/too big and I'm tuning you out"; to the extent she gets nervous or rushy, it's often her telling me "you're too tight/not soft enough, your energy level is too high and you're overcuing". If she gives me "mareitude", it's usually a protest against something I'm doing that's careless or thoughtless in my interaction with her - her self-respect requires that I treat her with a corresponding degree of respect and care and softness. She's teaching me to refine what I do to the softest and quietest I can be - or even less - Dawn is capable of responding to the slightest change in mental energy or focus.
Dawn's a great horse for me to work with right now. But although she's extremely sensitive and interactive - she's glad to have an active dialogue with you if you'll just pick up the phone and listen to what she has to say - I actually believe almost all horses can be like this and can teach us these things. I just think a lot of horses are more tolerant than Dawn is of our human ways, and how overdone they are from the horse point of view. Many horses either are forgiving and just put up with us - and we assume that what we're doing is what's needed when it's really a lot more than what's needed - or just tune us out altogether. Sometimes getting bigger or louder or more forceful isn't really what's needed. Instead we often need to get smaller, quieter and softer to help us get the work done together with the horse, and a happy horse is one that's willing in the work.