Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ravel and Totilas: Aachen 2011

Ravel gets a hug.
I overheard a conversation between two dressage riders -- one of them was present at Aachen a few weeks ago for the Aachen CDIO Nation's Cup. She said something interesting. The audience was very knowledgable, she said, and apparently willing to express their opinions. When Peters finished his highly difficult, flawlessly performed freestyle on Ravel, the audience went wild and he got a standing ovation. When Rath and Totilas completed their freestyle -- with mistakes and some might say an uneven performance overall -- they received a higher score than Peters and Ravel.

The audience booed. They booed their own countryman. Now, you won't see the booing in the footage below (tactful editing?) but you see the reaction of the audience to Peters -- it was simply overwhelming.

Ravel and Peters

Totilas and Rath


  1. I've seen articles and coverage from European sources stating that the audience clearly felt that Steffen and Ravel should have won. And that's a very knowledgeable audience! I was kind of impressed by that, as few American audiences would work that way. Well, unless it was a grey baroque stallion at the WEG.

    I loved my instructor's description of Ravel. "Like a wet noodle." I don't even understand how it's possible for a horse to be SO relaxed and still do all he does, but it's incredible. He may not be as flashy as Totilas, but to me that ride and his GP from Florida (or was it the GP Special?) are the goal all riders should reach toward. Maybe I'm more impressed because I have a horse who tends toward tense, but the extreme relaxation Ravel shows and Paragon tends toward are both incredible and make me happy to be around to see them!

    I don't know enough to get the technical aspects of why Totilas is considered so great. I adore his attitude he projects and he does great transitions, but I just don't have the eye to see what the experts see of why he's so great - and we're not talking the extended trot viewers love and judges don't. But the relaxation? That, I can see.

  2. Very interesting post, it just makes you wonder if the judges now see the name Totalis and are already thinking of it as the winner before they have ridden the test... Maybe I'll rename my horse! Totalis is beautiful though!

  3. I would have to agree with the people in Aachen. Ravel performed a beautiful freestyle that was wonderfully choreographed as well as technically well-executed. He had great self carriage and was very light in the bridle, making the whole thing look effortless (especially those tempis **drool**)

    Totilas is a beautiful and talented horse, but I fear he is pushing our sport in a dangerous direction where flash wins out over harmony.

  4. Peters was the undeniable winner. The level of difficulty of his ride was leagues above most of the competition. It is a shame that the glamour of the WEGs shone so brightly for the superstar stallion, while the pilot of said superstar got no such acknowledgement.

  5. Peters was the undeniable winner. The level of difficulty of his ride was leagues above most of the competition. It is a shame that the glamour of the WEGs shone so brightly for the superstar stallion, while the pilot of said superstar got no such acknowledgement.

  6. On technical difficulty along, Ravel and Peters far outshone Totilas in a ride that looked like a standard Grand Prix test instead of a freestyle. Totilas also blew the tempis--at least twice from what I could see and was definitely not as "clean" in his transitions.

    I am afraid Peters earlier rides in the Grand Prix and Special which were in the 77% range forced the judges to score him lower on this ride. If the Kur were the only competition, then it had to be Ravel on top. I simply cannot see it any other way.

    And, I do not think Totilas has the same flash he had under Gal. The extravagant front end is looking really out of sync with his hind end now, and he certainly still does not engage in those trot extensions.

    How frustrating to see these two rides and to know that the eventual winner had an unwarranted edge. *sigh*

    The audience was clearly right as far as I am concerned.

  7. Good to see an informed audience.

  8. Exactly Jean!

    I love Totilas. He is a gorgeous hardworking horse who gives his all for his people, but I'm sorry - his front end very often looks disconnected from his hind. His "expensive" trot is disharmonious to my eye.

  9. What a great post. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Ravel won. Hands (hoofs?) down. The routine was elegant, relaxed and well executed.

    Totilas was amazing under Gal, but not so much under this new rider. It looks like he's being pushed too hard to make the front end flashier, and the back end is just trailing behind. Totilas' extended trot in this performance was nowhere close to what it used to be. It's a shame, too, because the horse clearly loves his job and is just beautiful to watch. I only hope his new owner/rider recognizes that he no longer looks balanced, and can take steps to correct that.

    Also, is it just me, or did Totilas' right front leg appear stiff at the walk?????

  11. @Net - it depends on the American audience.

    Many moons ago, I was at Dick and Jane Brown's farm for a Grand Prix. They act as patrons to Guenter Seidel. At the time he was on Foltaire, owned by the Browns.

    So, Debbie McDonald was on her gelding...can't remember his name. Cool horse, though. And she had a great go.

    And then it was Steffen Peters turn. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful ride. This was right after Grandeur was retired (for the second time, I think). His score eclipsed Debbie's, and we all thought we'd seen the winner.

    Finally, Guenter went. His ride was fine, but had several significant problem points and clearly not in the league with either Debbie's or Steffen's go.

    When his score was announced and he was declared the winner, the entire crowd went:


    I mean, it was LOUD. And then it was - murmur, murmur, murmur -

    But here we are, at the Brown's farm, with the Brown's rider, on one of the Brown's horses.

    The judges totally got the memo.

    To Guenter's credit, he didn't appear to take any joy in the victory. The whole thing was awkward.

    But really entertaining for me. :D

  12. Well, I think probably Peters had the better ride. But I can't help noticing that BOTH horses are very showy and yet missing some basic elements. Ravel isn't straight on the straights. And at at least two points he is four beating at the canter. Totilas is very very uneven - at one point he is waving one front hoof far out in front of the other. Call me a snob but a Grand Prix horse should not be four-beating. Nice passage and piaffe and flying changes don't mean you can skip the part everyone is supposed to get right.

  13. I won't comment on the horses' movements since I don't even begin to understand the judging at these high level shows. But Mathias' riding, yikes. His toes are pointed down nearly the whole ride, he seems to be working harder than Toto at many points, he just looked very akward in the whole ride. No, I am not a grand prix rider, far from it! This is just an observation; in case anyone wants to throw tomatoes;)

  14. This is [IMHO] exactly what is "wrong" with the majority of the show industry. I don't show anymore (haven't since I was a kid), but I have been to a number of shows as a spectator.

    I found it both mind boggling and disheartening to see which way the ribbons went. Made me wonder if the judges were looking at the same horses and riders I was.

  15. Boy, oh boy. I could not even finish watching Totilas's performance, because I found it so discouraging after seeing Ravel's. Ravel was soooo fluid, his head carriage looked natural and comfortable, his tail was a go-go, his ears were a-floppin' and he just looked like he was actually ENJOYING HIMSELF. Totilas? Not so much. Chin cranked in, front legs reaching for the sky while back end followed in a (for him) lackadaisical manner. NO WONDER the crowd booed. I thought Rath looked nervous, too, and well he should have! I am not going to watch any more footage of that poor horse. I just don't get it. I'd say give Gal back the ride, but his Rolkur training doesn't make me happy, either!

  16. Peters and Ravel have been robbed before ( see Hong Kong 2008) but this is something else altogether. As magnificent as Totilas is, that ride just was not pretty to watch. I can't agree more with a previous commenter's concern about taking the sport /art in a dangerous direction. More wet noodles, please!

  17. Gah, I DO NOT understand the hype about totilas...he is just waaaay too flashy and like someone else said, looks like he is lacking basics. His hind end CLEARLY is not engaged hardly ever, and his front just is distracting. Even under gal I did not like him, he too showy and I fear the same for dressage as the "big-lick" people or hunters with their heads and feet dragging.

  18. Peters and Ravel: Inspiring.

    I was loving his halfpass (trot, canter, and passage) and double pirouettes, anyone? Ravel looked like one horse in the extensions and Peters looked like he was just enjoying the ride. I believe Peters' training pyramid is "suppleness, suppleness, suppleness". It shows!


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