I recently received a link to this site with the topic of the cruelty of Dancing horses in Mexico.
Dancing Horse Cruelty or Not!?
When I came to answer it I found it was 2 years old - however there is a pertient point here regarding training methods which I think deserves another post.
I don't think that the concept of dancing horses is cruel but would agree that some methods of training could be - just look at some of the methods used in show jumping! I do get the impression though that the Mexican mentality and way of life may not lead to sympathetic training methods.
On the other side of the issue - look at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. These magnificent Lipizzaner horses perform world wide. The school has been going for over 400 years and originally started to train mounts for the cavalry.
All the horses used are stallions and all moves are claimed to be natural to the horse and are just trained to perform those moves as requested. Possibly some of the moves would not be natural to mares.
In my time I have worked with a lot of horses from heavy working horses to harness racers. What training I have done with them has been 'gentling' rather than 'breaking' and the difference shows in the way the horse reacts to you and how they want to be your friend and please you.
A good demonstration of this is when I took a stallion out of his stable after a few weeks rest and in order to exercise him in a way that was interesting for us both I took him around the school in dressage moves. He performed superbly and loved every minute of it and any observer would have been astonished to learn that he had never ever done dressage in his life before. The only secret was that he had never been taught with gentle methods and our relationship was such that he wanted to please me.
Although it has been taken to America the concept appears different from original and is just dressage.