“Mit Totilas ist alles schief gelaufen, was schief laufen konnte”.
In English we would say, “With Totilas, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.”
In Ireland they’d mutter something about “Murphy’s Law”. Who could forget that even the British Queen gave a speech admitting she had endured an “Annus Horribilis“?
And who would argue with that statement about Totilas? The pundits (including this blog) have been bemoaning Totilas as the tough-luck kid since he was sold in the fall of 2010 and made the move across the Dutch border into Germany.
Once the darling of the sport horse world, Totilas never seemed to have a bad day under Dutch rider Edward Gal. He sparked dressage by becoming the first superstar in his own right. But then came the van ride to Germany, followed by training delays, lameness, rider illness, bad luck, and just more bad luck. As the highest-priced sport horse ever sold, and the most popular, the presence of Totilas on the German team might have elevated dressage to a prime time Olympic sport.
But he was at home in his stall when London rolled around.
Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gave Totilas (and Schockemohle) a kick when they were down, describing Rath’s opulent stable near Frankfurt as a prison, and the stallion’s lifestyle as an aberration of the way nature intended horses to live.
But the admission of a bad start isn’t from a pundit. The words come directly from Totilas’ primary owner, German sport horse breeding and sales impresario Paul Schockem?hle, in an interview with equestrian journalist Sylvia Theel published today in the German newspaper, Das Spiegel.
But don’t count Paul Schockem?hle out. He has re-grouped and announced his plan today, following up on a previous announcement that rider Matthias Rath and Totilas will indeed be training in The Netherlands with former Dutch team trainer Sjef Janssen.
What he won’t be doing is breeding at the same time that he is showing. Schockem?hle said today that he won’t present Totilas at his stallion shows next year. He clarified the breeding plans in the German dressage magazine St Georg on Wednesday.
Schockem?hle told Theel that he based his enthusiasm for the future on the one truly remarkable performance that Rath and Totilas produced in 2012, at the Balve show. That was the moment when everything went as planned, and the score showed it. “If it had not been (for) Balve, I would not be so optimistic. But there both showed that they can (do it).”
And do it together, at the same time.
The interview closes with an ominous post script from Theel, who reminded readers that while Janssen was the trainer who brought Totilas up to his pinnacle triple-gold medal sweep of the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010, Janssen is also the trainer who is a magnet for animosity because he uses a form of the controversial training practice called “rollkur”.
When Rath used stretching and bending reminiscent of hyperflexion, a.k.a. rollkur, in the warmup ring at Balve, an uproar that might have been heard around the world was tempered only by the German realization that their gold medal hopes for the London 2012 Olympics might ride on Totilas.
Sadly, he wasn’t able to compete at the qualifier at Aachen in July. In fact, he hasn’t competed since then.
“Wir sind noch optimistisch,” Schockem?hle said in closing.
“Just wait’ll next year,” as baseball fans would say.