Totilas with New Owner Paul Schockemöhle-First Photo

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Totilas with new owner Paul Schockemöhle. © 2010 Julia Wentscher
Totilas with new owner Paul Schockemöhle. © 2010 Julia Wentscher

MÜHLEN, Germany, Oct. 29–The first photo of superstar stallion Totilas with new owner Paul Schockemöhle was released Friday by Performance Sales International.

The 10-year-old KWPN stallion was moved to PSI’s stables on Monday from Harskamp, the Netherlands, where he had been trained by Edward Gal. In two years of competing at Grand Prix, the pair won two gold medals and one silver medal at the 2009 European Championships in Windsor, England, won their first World Cup Final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in March and won all three gold medals up for grabs at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September. Along the way, the black stallion set record scores at all three Grand Prix levels.

In the photo, taken by Julia Wentscher, Totilas appears fit and alert.

The sale of the world’s No. 1 ranked dressage horse by the Dutch owners, Kees and Tosca Visser, was a shock coming so soon after WEG.

Although the owners have not yet discussed the reasons for the sale at an amount reported to be €9.5 million (US$13.2 million), they honored an agreement to maintain ownership with Edward as the rider through the WEG in Kentucky. They originally bought the horse for Edward to compete internationally after the stallions Lingh and Ravel–now a gelding–were sold to American owners.

The Vissers initially resisted pressure to breed Totilas saying they preferred to wait until near the end of his competition career. However, they came to an arrangement this year to breed to about 175 mares–about half the number of applications.

Totilas with Edward Gal aboard and Tosca and Kees Visser at Aachen, Germany in July. © Ken Braddick/
Totilas with Edward Gal aboard and Tosca and Kees Visser at Aachen, Germany in July. © Ken Braddick/

Paul Schockemöhle was a leading jumper rider–a record of three successive European championships with Deister still stands–plus success as a trainer and manager of jumping horses and riders and operates what is probably the leading sport horse breeding and sales operation in the world. Among the dressage sires stood by PSI is Sandro Hit.

The PSI auction of sport horses scheduled for December is a highlight of each year.

The competition rider of Totilas in the future has still not been disclosed, nor has it been confirmed that a decision has been made.

Persistent but unconfirmed reports name Matthias Alexander Rath, aged 26, who has been a member of top German teams at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, for the first time in 2009, then again 2010 as well as the 2009 European Championships and the 2010 WEG in Kentucky with Sterntaler-UNICEF. The horse was initially developed by his stepmother, Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, before she contracted Lyme’s disease then turned the horse over to Matthias.

The impact of Totilas on horse sports in general and dressage in particular has been unprecedented. Organizers of major competitions have offered substantial fees just for the horse to show up as they say his appearance pretty much guarantees a sellout. National television networks have broadcast rides live in prime time.

On hearing the news of the sale, Dutch fans considered organizing an effort to raise money to buy Totilas.

Isabell Werth, who has been Germany’s top rider for 15 years with a vault full of gold medals from Olympics, WEGs, European Championships, commented on the sale while she was at the Equitá Horse Show World Cup qualifier in Lyon, France this weekend.

“To ride a horse that was made by someone else is not really something I am looking for,” she said when asked whether she would be interested in the ride on Totilas.

“The satisfaction of this sport is to reach a high level with a horse that you discovered, you worked with and shaped for a high level. I certainly felt sorrow for Edward. I couldn’t stand being separated from Gigolo, the horse of my best years and I am very lucky as something like that could not happen with Madeleine Winter-Schulze and Brigitte Werth, the owners of my horses.

“This selling of Totilas is part of our sport; for Paul Schockemöhle it’s a great advertisement for his stud and the offer of stallions.

“But riding Totilas is no warrant for a gold medal at the next Olympics (in London in 2012). The comprehension between the rider and his horse has to be right – it’s very possible that the chemistry between them does not work, and our sport is a couple’s business. And, of course, many things can still happen on the way towards London: Just remember the misfortune of Adelinde Cornelissen in Lexington.”

Adelinde, is also competing at Lyon, but not on Jerich Parzival, the only horse ever to beat Totilas, once to win a gold medal and set a new world record in the Grand Prix Special at the 2009 European Championships and in the Grand Prix at the 2010 World Cup Final.

Parzival is the horse she trained from being virtually unrideable to the top in the world and is currently ranked No. 2 behind Edward and Totilas. At the WEG in Kentucky last month, the 13-year-old chestnut gelding bit his tongue to draw blood in the Grand Prix and was automatically disqualified. As the pair started for the Dutch team, they were also awarded a gold medal.

Blood showing on the mouth of Parzival as Adelinde leaves the WEG arena. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Blood showing on the mouth of Parzival as Adelinde leaves the WEG arena. © 2010 Ken Braddick/

“He had bitten his tongue coming onto the track,” said Adelinde, 31, at Lyon. “It was not serious and it stopped bleeding on the way back to the stables. I think the rule is a bit harsh, the horse deserved a second check and to have the chance to go again.

“I didn’t want this medal. It’s a title I would have preferred not to win in those conditions. I didn’t want to step onto the podium.

”If the Netherlands are so strong at the moment, I think it’s because of the solidarity that exists in our dressage team; the riders and trainers share their ideas. We have some really good horses, good breeding and owners…”

Asked about Totilas, she said “it’s sad for Edward and a real loss for the team.

“The sale of our horse is something that threatens all of us when we are not the owner. It happened to me last year after the European Championship in Windsor. Someone wanted to buy Parzival, a horse that I half owned. I bought the other half so now I don’t have to worry!”

Even if someone offered €10 million (US$13.9 million)?

“Out of the question, I don’t even want to think about it!”