Amongst many horse lovers, dressage is getting an increasingly bad name. When I go out to clients I am often struck by their willingness to get help from a riding instructor, but their immediate rejection of an instructor who specialises in dressage - 'I don't like dressage', 'the horses always look so forced', 'I don't want anyone doing that to my horse'. And these views are entirely understandable.
It is sad that a common view now is that dressage aims to produce horses who move in a spectacular way, whilst looking somewhat tormented. It is not, in my opinion, the rules (and aims) of dressage that are causing the problems, it is lack of adherence to the rules - sorry, but a lot of the problem is down to the judges.
The first 2 points in article 401 of the FEI rules illustrate this well:
It's a strange world where humble 'happy hackers' would not actually allow a good number of the world's most successful competitive riders within a mile of their horses, but seeing pictures such as the one above, this would certainly be my view.