Let’s get brutally honest …
This is not Dressage. It’s abusive riding. It’s unharmonious riding. It’s riding with physical force and coercion.
But the one thing it is not is Dressage.
Dressage is French for training .. not pulling on the reins, spurring the horse, riding him behind the vertical because you can’t safely ride him in front of the vertical. It isn’t riding your horse in a posture that breaks down the rest of his body at an early age.
Be careful what you visually absorb while browsing the internet. Images are powerful influencers and could be sub-consciously shaping your expectations of what good horsemanship looks like.
Update 07/03/16: As some readers have commented that foaming at the mouth is some great, special achievement to be desired in dressage, I feel the need to clarify the difference between good froth and bad foam.
Good Froth in dressage is what happens when the horse lightly mouths the bit and can be a sign of acceptance. The following images are good examples of good froth, which should appear like lipstick on the horse’s lips. Also important to note that this can be achieved WITHOUT a bit.
Bad Foam in dressage is typically what we see happening in top-level competition — a large amount of foam, so much so that it’s not uncommon for the horse’s chest to be covered in it. THIS TYPE OF FOAM IS BAD AND A SIGN OF TENSION IN THE HORSE.
There is a popular trend among horse-lovers, that of romanticizing bad horsemanship. Beautiful images with special filters and dramatic angles, showing the horse in distress due to his rider.
Avoid promoting this visual support of horse abuse by being more careful with the images you share and making certain the commentary correlates with what is being represented in the image.