Sunday, November 1, 2009

Totilas: Trash talk

In a recent COTH posting, there was discussion of a mini-controversy at the Global Dressage Forum at the Academy Bartels in Hooge Mierde, Netherlands. Totilas -- that big-moving, 90% scoring, knockout stallion -- was brought up in an unflattering light. I guess toward the end of the forum, someone (Richard Davidson) stood up and waved around a magazine with this picture (on right) on the cover.

A lively discussion ensued...
Davidson challenged members of the forum -- specifically Arthur Kottas -- to identify the gait (extended trot versus passage). Kottas, who was on the hot-seat, was hard pressed to answer. Awkward!

I have a few reactions...

  • As someone who occasionally manages meetings, maybe I empathize a bit too much with the blind-sided Arthur Kottas. If you wanna talk about something put it on the agenda.
  • Doesn't the whole scene (as described) sound a bit theatrical, a la TV courtroom drama, or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?
  • I daresay that most of us have taken photos that fail to capture how gorgeous we obviously are. Yes, Totilas' neck looks a little short there. I've got some photos suggesting I have a prominent double chin, but no one's posting them on magazine covers, praise God. I can just destroy them.
Oh, by the way...
Later, it was pointed out that at the moment the photo was taken Totilas was transitioning from an extended trot to a passage. So it was not any one gait, it was mid-transition...


  1. While that may not have been the right time/situation/approach for a conversation like that, I do think the Dressage world needs to be talking about whether we really want to go down this route of super exaggerated gaits.

    Quaterback I like; Totilas makes me uneasy and I really don't like watching his videos. I'd be hard-pressed to explain why I like the one and not the other.

    But I think when we reach a point where the movement of top Dressage horses is being called "freakish" by people on both sides of the fence, there needs to be some conversation about what people are breeding for and whether that is really, really the direction we want to go in.

    I hope the conversation is reopened in a more appropriate venue, and on a wider basis than just examining Totilas.

  2. This horse continues to arouse controversy. He is, regardless of training, an incredible natural mover--some people say, a freak.

    If he becomes the standard by which all other dressage horses are judged, I shudder to think what might happen with training methods attempting to force horses to look like that.

  3. I think I can make a horse like that... Dutch Harness Horse x Oldenburg. If this catches on, I'll breed my girl and sell her babies for oodles of money.

    Well, maybe there's more to it than that. ;-)

  4. Can I ask a question of the DQ's? I don't know enough about dressage to know, but it seems like in the freestyle video that Stacy posted a while ago, something funky is going on with Totilas' hind end when he does tempi changes and in some of his transitions. Am I imagining things?


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.