Americans don't seem to be very engaged with the massive event that is going on in Europe at the moment. Aachen, Germany is hosting the FEI European Championships, plus a lot more equestrian events and even an eventing competition that includes some US riders. But the age-old rivalries are playing out. Pride is at stake. Reputations can be made or ruined. And one horse who finished sixth yesterday is getting more press than all the winners combined....
Earlier today, Totilas, the horse of German dressage team rider Matthias Alexander Rath, was withdrawn from the remaining competitions of the FEI European Championships in Aachen.
"After yesterday's ride in the Grand Prix we studied the videos again in the evening. On analyzing the videos, an irregularity in the movements of his left hind leg was noticeable. After the initial examination, no visible cause is recognizable, so at the moment it is not possible to explain this irregularity. For the protection of the horse, the rider, national trainer and team veterinarian have taken the joint decision to withdraw him," explained the German Chef d'Equipe, Klaus Roeser.
--Text of announcement from Aachen 2015 show management
He's the hard luck horse who once ruled the world. The comeback kid who hasn't quite come back. We know he can do it, but will he ever do it again?
Once the world's greatest dressage horse, Totilas recovered from lameness problems with almost miraculously good timing to make the German team for the FEI European Championships, underway this week at Aachen, Germany, in the nick of time. The black Dutch Warmblood stallion won the title in 2009, when he represented The Netherlands and was ridden by Edward Gal.
Totilas was in the background last night when Gal stood on the tall center podium and received a gold medal for the Dutch team's performance in the Grand Prix. Matthias Rath, Totilas's current rider, accepted the bronze team medal. They finished sixth individually, with a score of 75.971.
After the breaking news that Totilas has been withdrawn from the FEI European Championships Aachen 2015, Equestrian Worldwide TV (EQWOtv)spoke to Klaus Röser, who is the Chef d’Equipe of the German dressage team. He tells us the background about where and how Totilas is today.
According to the German dressage magazine St Georg, Totilas obviously passed the horse inspection before the event, although one inspector had suggested sending him to the Holding Box, but he was ultimately deemed fit to compete.
Right on cue, social media lit up after the ride. The world made its usual critique of Totilas and Rath, whether they deserve it or not. Outside the borders of Germany, they seem to be unable to please anyone since Totilas was sold to Germany after his sweep of all the medals at the World Equestrian Games in 2010. Yet this time, there seemed to be something to the criticism, and it is something that neither Rath nor the horse could control.
Totilas, once the most beautifully moving horse in the world, was making extravagant but not exactly fluid tracks in the extended trot across the diagonal line of the ring. He certainly wasn't visibly lame, or his test would have been halted. Most of the judges still gave him high marks but not the astronomically high marks of Totilas with all the gears clicking. Like Humpty Dumpty, this horse would surely be put back together correctly if it could be done.
When Edward Gal rode Totilas, he was compared to Fred Astaire in the saddle. Totilas was his Ginger Rogers. They couldn't take a bad step.
Surely even the harshest critics are tired of the tough talk by now. It's been almost five years. Now the whole world would just like to see Totilas redeem himself. Five years is a long time to be almost back in the game that you once ruled.
Do you remember when they called Totilas the "game-changer"? His memory still casts a long shadow over the sport.
Before long, the sons and daughters of Totilas will be competing at FEI level. Edward Gal, in fact, has a son of Totilas in training at home in The Netherlands. His name? Toto Jr.