by Fran Jurga | 16 December 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
Moorlands Totilas and Edward Gal of The Netherlands set a new world record today for the highest score ever awarded in an FEI dressage freestyle: 92.30. Just watch this horse downshift from a canter to a pirouette and turn on a dime.
I don't know what you were doing this afternoon but I had my nose pressed to my monitor and if you tried to call the office, I'm sorry but I didn't answer the phone for a while.
Thanks to FEI TV, Americans were able to watch a live broadcast from London of the FEI World Cup Qualifier in dressage from the Olympia Horse Show. I would have watched it any year, but this year I was thrilled that the new service would show it live because there was a chance to see the world's leading dressage team, the nine-year-old black KWPN stallion Moorlands Totilas and Edward Gal of the Netherlands, perform in real time.
I held my breath, wondering if he could please the London crowd with a performance equal to his superb outdoor freestyle at the Alltech FEI Euro Championships held at Windsor Castle last fall. Twice in the second half of 2009, Totilas and Gal have broken the world record for highest score ever awarded by dressage judges.
Totilas is not loved by everyone. There are dressage aficionados who say that his movements are too exaggerated and that, while the effect is stunning, the movements may be technically incorrect. He seems to use his legs like a Saddlebred (or a high-stepping Dutch carriage horse) and not be using his back, they say. One European magazine showed him on their cover in a freeze frame looking for all the world like he was doing a Spanish walk in the middle of an FEI dressage test. Most of Totilas' critics tend to aim their barbs at the judges who give him such high scores.
So what can you say about the hometown London crowd that gave a roaring standing ovation to a foreign horse and rider? What can you say about the buzz that this horse has caused in Europe, bringing new attention and excitement to the staid old sport of dressage?
Yes, the judges rewarded him again. He cast his spell on them, on me and on the crowd. Totilas scored an amazing 92.30, the highest score ever awarded, breaking his own world record.
It's amazing to watch history unfold in front of you. And that is what is happening: this incredible horse is aimed at the USA. His owners' goal is gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next fall in Kentucky. That's one I won't have to watch on the web stream because I'll be there, and until then I will track this horse's performances and soundness in hopes that he can do for dressage in the USA what he has done for dressage in Europe.
Edward Gal of the Netherlands saluted the cheering London audience last night as he and his nine-year-old stallion Moorlands Totilas set a new world's record in freestyle dressage. In 2010, they will aim for the FEI World Cup, to be held in Holland, and then the World Equestrian Games in the USA. Photo ? Peter Nixon courtesy of Hpower and the Olympia Horse Show.