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Discussion Starter #1

What do you think? Does he deserve the 92.300%?



My thoughts....

He is stunning, and exceptionally talented with a beautifull rider on board.... but go back and watch it with your hand over his front end. Hind end really doesn't do it for me he's very slow in the hocks. Piaffe/passage is LOVELY very regular which is a very nice change from most of the other horses competing at that level. Extensions.... again cover the front end. There's nothing behind hh's smacking himself in the face his front end is that spectacular, but there's nothing behind.
Canter is lovely, but there were quite a few instances where he was 4 beating and the 2's weren't straight- it may have been the camera angle though.
Certainly the best horse out there on the elite circuit at the moment (that is being publicised), no doubt about that, but I find it a bit of a shame that nothing at that level ever has a flashy hind end now. People just look at the front. But hey, who am I to say, where have I got with my dressage so far?
 

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Nah, you're right. A lot of tests are done behind the vertical--and all flash up front and nothing behind.

Yay modern dressage.
 

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I recently started a thread about feel. That is a great example of feel, timing and cadence. I was impressed. He wasn't ever behind the vertical and niether one of them were pulling on the riens. Fantastic!!!
 

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I thought it was a lovely ride. sure his high end was not too great, but it was better than a lot that you see now a days... And he wasn't behind the vertical 98% of the time.
 

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I didn't get to see the whole test (slow internet connection, ugh) but in the amount I saw, the man does have firm contact but it's not a death grip, force 'em on the bit contact. I didn't see him go behind the vertical, but yes I do know what you mean about modern dressage in these days, but obvisouly this horse was not taught by "modern techniques". Personally, I think his hocks showed enough action and implusion. Maybe that's all he can get depending on his build. He does appear to be one of those warmbloods where all the muscles naturally up front. I honestly think he did amazing from the few minitutes I saw.
 

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I personally think it is simply amazing, that is the real version of the black stallion ;) personally, i try not to critique harshly when i have never tryed what im critiqueing, you never know how hard it is! i think it is a beautiful combonation of rider and horse. they work well together! ohhhh can you imagine getting to ride that horse? that would be a dream! lol but i still would rather my rena over him <3
 

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My question is how many judges did he get that score under???
 

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My question is how many judges did he get that score under???
im nto sure... the normal amount which i THINK is, 2 at C, 2 at E,2 more at B annndddd im not sure, that is just my guess :p im not sure how many there are in the olympics:D
 

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Personally, I'm appalled. Here are the comments I posted on their ride at EuroChamps in Windsor:

pinknessxlee (1 month ago)
I feel compelled to write my opinion.
There is no doubt that Totilas (his barn name is Toto :3) is a sweet horse - all horses are. The music is wonderful, and the test has great choreography. But this to me just isn't what dressage is all about. This shouldn't be what is considered perfect. This shouldn't be what sets a record. In fact, it disgusts me to find that a rollkur trained horse with ridiculously flashy (possibly manufactured) movement is what they've labled as perfect. But that's what dressage is turning into, isn't it? We're no longer living in an era were dressage means to train, or to be in harmony with the horse and strive for creating a happy, healthy animal that is more than willing to work. Toto is certainly listening to his rider, and he performs well, but I see so much tension and so little freedom in his movement. Even when he walks into the ring. And not every movement is performed correctly, his back end seems weak as well - a majority of his muscle is grouped in his chest and a ridiculous amount of it in the neck. I really do prefer the floaty, free moving horses to this tense, steroid over-dose look. Don't get me wrong, and don't attack me because I think this way (it's my opinion after all), but I can't help but pray that the next generation of dressage riders is the one to preserve some of the classical methods, and puts the welfare and happiness of their horses above all.
stearinlys (3 weeks ago)
How does one know that rollkur is the method that has been used? And how can one establish from a short clip like this that the horse is not a happy, healthy animal? These are general questions that I'd like an answer to - NOT because I'm a defender of rollkur (I'm not - the little I've read about it disgusts me), but because I want to be able to "discover" such things for myself when I watch dressage. Although it's an awful thought to think that the truth behind this performance is an ugly one.

pinknessxlee (3 weeks ago)
@Stearinlys
The chin-hitting knees are the first thing, the unnatural over-muscling of the neck (with a serious lack of muscle in the hind end), and the fact that he's tenser than a block of wood are the most obvious signs. (Salinero looks like this too.) Edward Gal is a hyperflxion user and there is video and picture proof of him doing so. (With Gribaldi: /watch?v=J5pH5CEoZks)
Check out this great video on rollkur: /watch?v=O0hyOmMULYA
As I said, the FEI Dressage Board is so corrupt and so incredibly awful right now it actually makes me boil with anger. The judges should be shot. Why, why in the world is a horse trained in the abusive method of rollkur considered to be what is striven for in this sport?!
To me, it doesn't matter what kind of grip he has on the reins, what he says, or how many times he patted the horse at the end. What matters is the fact that this method that is proven to have negative effects on the horse's mind and body is being endorsed and rewarded.
 

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Who is to say he was trained using rolkur??Toto that is, not the trainer himself.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I find these responses a little upsetting, but very typical of how everyone thinks of dressage now. "Wow he's flashy, he has really spectacular paces, he's PERFECT!".
Yep, man is that horse flashy, he's black, has a HUGE neck on him and his front legs look like their about to fly to the moon. But maybe.... watch it again. Cover his front end. He looks like a pony club horse hald of the test.
Yep he's got lovely piaffe/passage etc. But he is just So tight, I was under the impression that dressage was intended to promote a loose, swinging back? Well I did not see that back relax ONCE in that test, not once, not in any test I have seen of theirs. Yes he is at Grand Prix where a certain degree of tension is needed to 'pull off' these movements of intense collection, but the back should still swing. This horse moves like an flashy, uneducated TB. All legs, no back. They look spectacular, but now where near correct and flowing.

Someone said a few posts above that they do not like to critique riders at a level they have not reached themselves. Fair enough. But this is why dressage has no future, how is it meant to revert back to the original principals when a soft, flowing, correct test scores so low compared to a flashy, tense test? Everyone now strives for placings, for a few bits of material to show off and maybe if you lucky a bag of feed or such. It is just sad.
No I have not ridden at that level, but I have ridden alot of the FEI movements such as tempi changes, most of the lateral work, canter pirouettes, trot/canter half pass and have dabbled in piaffe/passage on my coaches FEI horse. I KNOW how extremely difficult these are to master. But what upsets me is that people are so focussed on getting the front end flashy, that they really don't care about what the hind end is going.


Edward Gal is a very good rider, but unfortunatly he has also because part of the modern dressage, winning is everything scene, at the cost of losing the basic foundations of what dressage is about. You want to see a soft, supple, relaxed horse at Grand Prix? Go look up some videos of Hubertus Schmidt. He has taken more horses to Grand Prix than just about any other rider out there in the elite circuit right now, yet he very rarely gets a look in. Why?? Because he doesn't ride the flashy, wall climbing horses with amazing front ends and 'guinee pig' backsides. And that doesn't score well. His horses go so beautifully, but that just don't look flashy, they don't make dressage a spectator sport. To the uneducated audience, of course the flashy tense horse is going to be the one that should be the winner in their eyes, the soft, relaxed, correct horse is 'boring'. Dressage seems to be taking a turn to becoming mroe spectator orientated by the looks of it.
 

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He actually is trained with rollkur--there are several clips of it on the internet that I've seen myself. Search the COTH boards.

And yes, he is behind the vertical a majority of the time--the poll is not the highest point.When you are looking straight on and can see his poll and then the neck behind it, he is behind the vertical.

Watch his head bob when the trot gets slower--this is the reason why he has a massive front end. He is pushing off the ground with his front legs and lifting with his neck. There should be no bob of the head at the trot--all of you know this.

He doesn't sit at all in the piaffe, he just moves his legs. Kind of like how a WP moves his legs in the cadence of a lope, but there is no actual lope motion. This is what the piaffe looks like when taught as a clever trick.



What is this? Behind the vertical, high rump, everything out in front and nothing behind.


Still behind the vertical, rump high, angles not matching...



Nothing behind, again.



Huge impurity of the trot, with the hind hitting the ground far further than the front, making the trot a 4-beat gait. A sign of tension (which, when you look at his back and neck, is expected). Toe flicking, which is a sign of exhausted muscles.

Please note the use of the curb in these extended trot photos. It should never be perpendicular with the horse's mouth. A curb, with no pressure on it, should rest like this:



Compare to the usage of the curb (which is to refine and lift lightly...). Also compare to the use of Anky's curb, if you'd like. That's what qualifies to me as 'deathgrip'.

There are many many pictures like the ones I have shown above. Everyone can take a bad picture. There is no doubt this horse is talented, but this is what modern dressage does to a talented horse. Please look at other tests where Totilas explodes for one or two movements, earning 1s, 2s, and 3s. A horse at this level should have no 'explosions'.

There are times, in tests with talented horses and rollkur riders, where the horse attempts to lift his head and the base of his neck and work the way he is supposed to--but these moments are limited to a stride or two before the ride clamps back on the reins. There should never be as much head and neck movement in a test at the trot that we see--this is an uncomfortable horse, this is a horse trying to raise the base of his neck, this is what a horse looks like when he is pulled into contact.

Please look to the walk portion of this test. The horse immediately drops far behind the vertical because there is no 'push' to jam his head up. Watch the rider try to jerk him back up (slightly), attempting to not be seen by the judges, but not wanting his horse to look like a macaroni noodle.

Watch at the riders hands come forward and out to the sides. Watch how the horse wants no parts of reaching into the contact; rather this horse is being 'funneled' down. Ask any western pleasure rider--we all know how to funnel a horse's head and neck down. And that's exactly what this rider is doing--he is keeping the contact, because at this high a level... apparently it's not the horse's job anymore.

It's a shame what modern dressage has produced; and that flash is all people can see.
 

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Ah, here we go.

A training clinic with the pair. Looks a lot like rollkur to me.

Actually, with the tail swishing and the mouth gaping, looks like Anky's rides, too.


Compare to the horse's movement in the first few minutes of this video--he looks NOTHING like how they show him, does he? All artifical, rollkur-induced movement. Take a good look at the hind end and what happens to it the more the head is pulled back.

 

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Finally, people who see it too. And those videos, great find. Can we say, "locked hands"?

If you want to see a quality piaffe, check out Balagur and Alexandra Korelova (their really good video from this year was deleted, but you can still get the idea). True that both horse and rider look a little nervous and tense, and given Balagur's history and his breed being Orlov Trotter, to the blind eye they don't look like much. But this horse is actually pushing from his hind and she's allowed him to move his head distinctly above the vertical so that he has the freedom and space to actually get on his hind end and do a good piaffe. They were getting tens with this movement at CHIO '09. I love this horse and rider.
A still:
 

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Im not a dressage rider and I'm sure not riding at this level, but I don't understand why he got such a high score...
Seemed like the horse moved with all leg and no back. Makes it look flashy, sure, but I didn't think that was the point
 

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Im not a dressage rider and I'm sure not riding at this level, but I don't understand why he got such a high score...
Seemed like the horse moved with all leg and no back. Makes it look flashy, sure, but I didn't think that was the point
It definitely shouldn't be the point. I found his movement ridiculous, personally.
 

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While it was a very lovely ride indeed, I don't think it deserved a 92%. I see this happening in eventing too. People have to get lower and lower scores (higher in "real" dressage) to get a decent placing. Ten years ago, a 35 would have put you at the top of the pack in eventing. Now, it's a the low 20's. Same with dressage, looks like its everywhere :/ I wouldn't call it corrupt or lax judging, but something is definitely happening.
 

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i enjoyed watching the little white horse, but at least in the video i watched, he was not pushing from behind in his piaffe. :( all of the 'bounce' and suspension was in the hind end; there was no suspension in the front at all--meaning all the weight is in the front so that the hind end can 'bounce'. His hind legs come underneath his body, but at the sacrifice of tipping his body forward--as you can see in the still, his front leg is not straight.

A very cute pair though, and certainly the loosest i have seen dressage reins on a horse at that level.
 
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