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Warmblood By Scot Tolman


W


e have entered a new era of competitive dressage. Imagine a George Lucas moment: A star-filled screen


appears, the John Williams intro begins, we read the line, “A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away…[in this case, Germany].” In a huge, yellow, outlined font, COMPETITIVE DRESSAGE 2012 explodes in front of us and then fades to the center of the screen. Finally, yellow text begins crawling up our screen from the base to a vanishing point at the top, scrolling the necessary exposition to begin our tale. We see: Aachen Grand Prix Freestyle.


The dressage world has been both captivated and


dominated by the black super-stallion, Totilas, for the last three years. With his Dutch rider, Edward Gal, he set three world records in each the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Special and the Grand Prix Freestyle. Suffering only one defeat in his Grand Prix career, Totilas and Edward Gal seemed destined for Olympic gold in 2012. Enter the multi-millionaire and German stallion


collector/businessman, Paul Schockemöhle. For an unprecedented multiple millions of euros, Totilas is sold to German hands, dashing the hopes of Dutch Olympic gold and catapulting Germany back into contention to regain its dominance in international dressage. Under his new rider, Matthias Rath, Totilas continues his ascension toward the gold medal. This new horse and rider partnership is not without


its troubles, however. Tension and irregularities have appeared where elasticity and effortlessness once prevailed. Transitions are no longer seamless. Totilas seems often stuck in collection. Rath has yet to achieve


the partnership the black super-stallion had with Gal. Although there are obvious cracks in the fortress, by the end of the competitions, the star power and the latent talent that is Totilas continue to rise to the top…. The camera now shifts to the Aachen arena, perhaps


the world’s finest sport horse venue. The final group of five, the top international horse and rider combinations, is about to begin. Suddenly, the announcer “coaxes” the seemingly reluctant Paul Schockemöhle to the microphone and begins a lengthy interview on the glories of his horse, Totilas. This occurs directly before the final five riders compete.


Yes, a commercial for Totilas and his owner, at one of the world’s most important competitions, moments before he is to compete against his four strongest rivals in the dressage world. Now, anyone who has met me, read my writings, or seen in the news that we have the first Totilas foal born in North America, knows that I’m a fan. A big fan. And, if it had been clear at the end of the competition that Totilas should have won, in reaction to this “spontaneous” commercial, I would merely be thinking: “Paul Schocke- möhle really knows how to pull strings and use his influence to promote his horse—a little inappropriate, but it’s his profession, and he certainly seems to be successful at it.” That’s not the way things went down, however. Totilas and Rath had mistakes. Lots of them. The


degree of difficulty of the test was marginal. The har- mony between horse and rider was inconsistent. Rath butchered the two-tempis so badly he had to use his correction line to redo them. Many of the transitions were jarring and lacking rhythm. Totilas lost impulsion.


Warmbloods Today 65


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