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This is a discussion on Totilas within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Totilas is ruined
  • Tortilas ruined dressage

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  • 3 Post By DuffyDuck
  • 3 Post By xxBarry Godden
  • 1 Post By xxBarry Godden
  • 1 Post By xxBarry Godden

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    11-12-2013, 08:30 AM

Can anybody please tell me why Totilas' new owner "ruined" him? I've doing some research about him, and came upon a couple of websites that said his new owner ruined him.
Unfortunately my phone won't play videos, so I wasn't able to check any of the videos, but I'll try on the computer when I get home. But can anybody PLEASE tell me why?
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    11-12-2013, 08:38 AM
There are a number of reasons, but the owner is currently under investigation for animal cruelty. Totilas has apparently become a weaver due to 'unnatural' enviroment through lack of turnout, which under German law is a basic requirement for horse care (aside from vets orders etc)

The over use of rollkur, and the lack of harmony between horse and rider. A lot of people think that Rath uses rollkur through fear of the horse, as he hasn't ridden the horse as well Gal ever has and holds him back. Rath, however, is still young as a rider so who knows what the future holds. Being the stepson of one of the co-owners doesn't make you a world rider.

There has also been the misfortune of illness and injury. They had to pull out of the 2012 Olympics due to rider health, and there have been issues where they have pulled out of competition/press opportunities when bad press (generally concerning the welfare of the horse) have come ahead.

I generally don't get in to Toto conversations, so many opinions and differences.
These generally aren't mine, just things I hear from other riders and dressage communities.
    11-12-2013, 11:47 AM
Perhaps the horse wouldn't speak German.
    11-12-2013, 11:50 AM
Darn it.

Best answer award, right there ^
    11-12-2013, 11:57 AM
I posted this on HF back in November 2010:

It has recently been announced that the fabulously capable Dutch horse Totilas has been sold to Paul Schockemohle the very talented German show jumper for a reported sum in excess of US$1.3 million. The horse has already left the Dutch stables of Edward Gal, the very talented dressage rider who had taken Totilas to the top of the tree by producing scores at the highest level of dressage competition, the like of which may never be seen again. The couple scored 10s as a matter of course. The horse was owned by a Dutch firm whose sponsorship with Gal had expired.

Schockemohle is reputed to have said that he hopes that Totilas will help produce for the future premium horses for use by the German National Equestrian team.

My wife and I are in disagreement. I say that the unusual bond between the rider Gal and the horse Totilas is such that it will be difficult for any other dressage rider, however capable, to produce similar results in competition in the future. My wife says that a special bond will soon be established by competent high level dressage rider of which there are several in Germany. As yet the new rider for Totilas has not been announced by the Germans.

For me the formula to produce a winning Grand Prix couple is:
An able horse + a highly skilled rider + relationship between rider & horse + (in this particular instance), something extra special - in French: ‘je ne sais quoi’
It is not just that the rider needs to feel the horse it is also that the horse needs to feel the rider in return.

In due course the outcome will become evident. Everyone will be watching very carefully the new couple’s performance - especially at the 2012 Olympics. It will be a very confident rider who sits on Totilas’s back at that meeting.


PS The horse did not compete at the Olympics
EvilHorseOfDoom likes this.
    11-14-2013, 08:27 AM
Thanks for the answers, although that's really sad :(
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    11-14-2013, 09:09 AM
It does seem sad that the more "successful" a horse is, the less he/she is allowed to just be a horse. DaffyDuck, I think it's wonderful that German law says turnout is a basic requirement for horse care! I wish we had similar laws here in North America.

Let's hope Totilas forms another close bond with someone, and rediscovers some happiness in his life.
    11-14-2013, 10:31 AM
Here is an hour long analysis. I found it interesting even though I don't 'do' dressage....

    11-14-2013, 12:50 PM
I started to watch the videos, then quite quickly I felt sad. When Edward Gal was riding I always smiled and I asked myself if ever I could ride as well .

I have always felt that the relationship between horse and rider determines the performance. It was a business arrangement which moved Totilas from Holland to Germany - but it was sad to realize that we may never see Totilas performing as once he did.

As I wrote before, maybe Totilas did not understand German or his German owners.
    11-14-2013, 01:15 PM
I wrote this article years ago and posted it on HF as a thread starter

For me it puts the issue of Totilas into the mind of all riders and not just the high flyers such as Totilas and Edward Gal - a simply superb rider.


Feeling - the advantage of an English saddle is that there is so little of it.

To ride a horse well, the rider needs to feel what the horse is thinking. There are two ears to watch and they act like semaphores. Then there is the angle of the horse’s nose; pitched anything from 5 o/c to 10 o/c. There is the pressure put by the horse on the bit. However it is what is felt that matters most. It is the rider’s job out on a ride to decide where the pair are going; the horse’s role is to carry the pair to the destination. So to perform the human must know what’s going on in the horse’s mind by deciphering through the legs and thighs the signals emanating up from the horse. In this way the rhythm, the fitness, the strength and the mood of the horse is transmitted up to the rider. So the smaller the saddle, the better.

In competitive jumping the rider’s job is to steer the horse round the course and to put the horse in the optimum position for take off. It then remains for the rider not to interfere with the horse’s landing. In dressage the rider’s job is to tell the horse which move comes next in the programme; the horse’s job is to perform the movement instantly. The dressage rider must give instructive aids sensitively. In both sports, subtle communication, backwards and forwards between equine and human, is essential.

When hacking out, what is going on the horse’s brain is of paramount importance for the rider to recognize. If the horse is going to freak out then the rider welcomes some warning. With most horses, the rider can feel the tension building. It might have been a slight hesitation, or perhaps just a flicker. The head might turn. The horse might grab at the bit. The rider has to pick up the vibes before it happens. Any instantaneous shy will have to be absorbed by the rider. On the other hand, in a good partnership, the rider feels when the horse is happy and all is going well. The rider then knows if he can take a few chances. The communication is not verbal, it is sensed. The feeling passes through the thighs, the calves and the hands.

A sure footed trail riding horse is a fabulous creature to ride English. The rider chooses the route which the eager horse negotiates with gusto. If the horse should falter, the rider will pick the horse up and visa versa. They become a pair. The pathway twists, turns and undulates. The horse picks its way through the obstacles. The feel yet again transmits from horse to rider and back again. The rider’s aids are instinctive, maybe just a hint of pressure, or a slight hesitation; a nudge of the calf or a subtle shift of weight. The instructions from the rider pass back down through the hands, the calves and the seat. Who, even if watching closely, would know?

Whatever the merits of a Western saddle and there are many, nothing beats the small English saddle for Feel. What lies between the rider and the horse should be the minimum of leather to keep the pair glued together, whatever the movement and despite the disruptive forces of motion. However to enjoy this communion, first the equine and the human have to come together to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and that takes time and familiarity. But Feeling is everything and too much leather deadens the transmission of it. Which is exactly why I prefer to ride English, even though those Western saddles are so comfortable.


mgarzon likes this.

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