Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A glimpse of young Totilas: Clinic, 2007

I can't take credit for any of the work that went in to *videotaping or **translating this 2007 clinic with Edward Gal and Totilas (then only 6 years old). It's fascinating to see a glimpse of the young Totilas before he became "a big deal," and we also see some of Gal's training methods, which I'm sure are controversial. The clinic is shown in three parts, and **translation for each part is available below.

There's a catch!
I'm assigning homework for readers. Watch Part 1 from 2:30 to 3:15 -- it's what I'll call the "pasture trot." Tell me, would you recognize that as Totilas? I'm not sure I would. Gal has said in interviews that he does not ask Totilas for show ring brilliance in their daily work. Even if this is toned-down-Totilas, you can tell he's really developed quite a bit in the last few years.

Part 1 (view translation for Part 1)

Part 2 (view translation for Part 2)

Part 3 (view translation for Part 3)

*The video is courtesy of Horsetribe on Youtube.
**The written translation was posted on a COTH dressage forum thread but the poster doesn't say where she got it. Thanks whoever did it.


  1. I always enjoy reading your blog - it makes me feel happy I'm Dutch. Do people actually translate a clinic like that XD omg

    I attended to this clinic myself but it was good to rewatch it because it's interesting to compare the horse on the video with the present totilas.

  2. He looks like a nice young dressage horse, but I would have never expected the movement we see out of him now out of that horse.

  3. I guess I can see a little how he developed into what he is, but I wouldn't really expect it based on what I see here.

  4. Just watched a bit of this and I agree, it's hard to see what he has become from his beginnings. The trot now has such high action in front. It's obviously not entirely his "natural" way of going--at least if what we see here are his natural gaits. So, what see in the show ring now is either a natural evolution of the light airy gaits of a youngster matured and strengthened, or something artificial.

    There are some moments of Rollkur in the videos that make me cringe...but enough said about that.

  5. Jean I totally agree. It just don't look right. And I can't believe it enhances or improves anything.

  6. Moments of Rolkur are not Rolkur - Rolkur's controversy is that it is done for extended periods. Otherwise, any of us who ask the horse to lower their neck while on a short rein would be guilty of Rolkur. I would say I see none of that in these videos - the times he is behind the bit appear to be when he's being asked to stretch over the back or he's become locked in the shoulder or neck. With some horses, that is where they get locked when getting trained.

    I didn't see anything remotely resembling questionable methods. Granted, the video quality is bad, but I didn't see him cranking on the horse's head.

    The other thing I note is that he's primarily riding on the snaffle, not the curb - there's contact, but the curb rein is fairly loose during most of the ride.

    People are becoming very hypersenstive to any riding where the horse is curled or hyperflexed. All of these things are used in most EVERY training method for getting to the upper levels - and like any method, doing too much for too long is inappropriate. If Gal were truly doing the Rolkur where the horse is prevented from using itself for hours on end, I think you would have seen Totilas would have broken down and not become the horse we see now.

    I have a horse that will lock in the wither and neck - he's an Arab, so he can curl up with the best of them. I have to do some things like Gal does to "unstick" him and free his back with his shoulder. Do I ride him for half an hour like this? No, and neither does Gal. Worst he does one long side of the arena. Please, people. Lets not go screaming with outrage "ROLKUR ROLKUR" on someone when their horse is clearly not being tied to their chest with a curb bit.

    We have bigger fish to fry. And again, I would point out - the horse is showing now, two years later, at a level that requires EVERY thing to be right - joints, muscles, condition, ability - if he was suffering from a training methodolgy that caused him pain, he wouldn't be at the level he's at. He'd be a school master in someone's barn, dealing with soundness isssues. You simply CAN NOT Show at that level and sustain that level for years if your horse is being abused. Its not possible for 99.9% of horses.

  7. very nice horse, but wow did he develop...from this video you wouldn't say that he'd be one day capable of such movement,,,

  8. mvery nice horse, but wow did he develop...from this video you wouldn't say that he'd be one day capable of such movement,,,


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