Last Thursday was a bad one for the German dressage team at the 2015 FEI European Championships in Aachen. From the first moment of the appearance of Totilas’ and his new rider, Matthias Rath in the arena, it appeared that there was something wrong with the welfare of the multi-million stallion. To the trained eyes, it was obvious that Totilas was lame and in agony throughout the test. His rear left leg appeared sore while Rath was saluting. Later, Totilas -now 15 years old- was taken to a clinic and was diagnosed with bone edema. Consequently, a long pause in sports duties has been advised, with the end of his dressage career being in sight as well.
This injury revived the outrage of the equestrian world and sports media regarding the chronically poor interest in Totilas’ welfare by his riders and owners. Throughout his career, this greatly talented stallion has been ruthlessly exploited by the equine industry, without any real interest in his health. Wonder horses like Totilas are seen as good business, a wise investment and nothing much more. Another concern was that the stallion should not have been qualified for the championships, raising suspicion upon the transparency of the selection procedures.
Totilas’ first rider, Edward Gal, with whom he gained three world records, is acuused by many of having made the start of the damage, as he trained the stallion with the LDR (Low, Deep and Round) method, based on hyperflexion. This technique is claimed to cause physical harm to the horse and is regarded as mental abuse by the FEI.
The love that this stallion has received from the equestrian audience is probably equal to the abuse he has received by his owners and trainers. Indeed, the more you learn about Totilas, the more you see the extent of animal cruelty imposed on him. Below is the video of Totilas’ performance in the 2015 FEI European Championships in Aachen:
Here are the links to relevant German articles: