Magic of Totilas
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Rumors that Totilas will appear at the PfingstTurnier in Wiesbaden, Germany this week sparked a flood of reports, tweets and other outpourings on the ever-expanding universe of social media that even if not accurate is a testament to the enduring star power of the black stallion.
Whether Totilas appears at Wiesbaden the fact that the possibiity generates such interest is amazing considering that the results when ridden by Edward Gal of the Netherlands were world records at the time but have since been eclipsed by Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro.
Never in the history of dressage has a single horse generated such excitement of a possible appearance than does Totilas, almost a year since the last competition with Matthias Alexander Rath of Germany as the rider.
Not since 2011 has the KWPN stallion (Gribaldi x Glendale) competed in a championship, then as a member of the German team at the Europeans in Rotterdam where the nation won silver behind Great Britain.
The previous championships for the horse was at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky where Edward Gal led the Netherlands to team gold then went on to win two individual gold medals.
Breeding of Totilas has been a factor in keeping him out of the competition arena, as have injuries incurred while carrying out those duties.
The record books may show that Totilas, now 15 years old, never made it to an Olympics–though Matthias says that Rio in 2016 is a goal–but the record remains to be written despite the best of intentions.
Why is Totilas so special that even the rumor of his appearance sets the dressage world afire is, well… a special kind of charisma.
Hind legs may not match the jaw-dropping front legs, the tempi changes may not always happen, but the piaffe and passage is what the Brits call “gob smacking.”
So exciting were the performances with Edward as the rider that the esteemed BBC televised live in prime time the ride at the iconic London Olympia Christmas show in 2009.
And this correspondent who witnssed most of the performances by Totilas from small tour at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany through to Edward Gal’s last performance in Kentucky then Matthias Alexander Rath as the rider through to the 2014 Aachen is as enraptured by Totilas as any other dressage fan.
Watching jumper riders and owners shed tears at Freestyle competition at the European Championships at Windsor, England in 2009.
And a succession of world records that have since been claimed by Charlotte and Valegro.
Emails from around the world when fans huddled around computers for dressage-neews.com to provide movement by movement reports from the performance with Matthias from Cappeln, Belgium when no Internet streaming or live scoring was available after lengthy absence from competition.
To the last public competition, after Matthias rode Totilas to their 10th straight victory at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen but did not compete as scheduled in the Freestyle.
Chances are that Totilas will not compete at Wiesbaden–Matthias is entered to show a young horse.
But if Totilas does appear at Wiesbaden, chance are that the world will be mesmerized and dressage-news.com will be, too.