This post comes with a warning: if you are German and you don’t think you can get past the criticism without thinking I am lumping all Germans into the same tarred and feathered box, then maybe you should go have a laugh on or get up to date at Eurodressage. 

Talk about rubbing salt in the wound. Either Paul Schockemohle has underestimated the global outrage at the separation of Edward and Totilas, or he doesn’t give a shit. Claartje at posted a link to some video footage that was on German TV after the stallion arrived at PS’s farm last week. Of course I couldn’t resist taking a peek at it – I kind of wish I had resisted though, because it kept me awake last night. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re seething. There is an undeniable smugness – on PS’s face, and in the voice of the rider who took a little lope around the indoor just to prove to the world that it really is Totilas and that he can be ridden by someone other than Captain of the Universe. The only one who doesn’t look like he’s suffering from a superiority complex is Totilas himself. And I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but gone were the scallop braids that we have all got used to seeing on that short but lovely neck; in their place was a tight little Germanic row of button braids. Is it just me? Or does anyone else see this as a thumbing of a German nose toward his neighbours to the west? Totilas, antsy in the hands of his new owner, kept shaking his head – probably because the braids were more restrictive than he’s used to feeling on the roots of his mane. If I were an animal psychic I might be tempted to suggest that the head shaking is a warning – a sign of things to come if someone should clamp their aggressive legs too tightly on those glistening ebony sides, or grab unfeelingly at the reins.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m pretty pissed. And I don’t care how many Visser defenders tell me how hellish the couple’s lives had become as a result of owning the world’s greatest dressage horse. As far as I’m concerned, the sale of Totilas is about money and nationalistic jealousy – things that have nothing to do with the love of a horse or respect for a gifted trainer. As a counter point to the unsavoury video she shared with her subscribers, Claartje also included some quotes from Isabell Werth at the Hanover show last weekend. Here is what Isabell had to say: “It’s not only wonder horse Totilas….but also wonder rider Edward Gal. Don’t underestimate what he has done for Totilas!”  I can’t remember now where I read it but Isabell was quoted somewhere else as having said she wouldn’t be interested in the ride on an already made horse – that she prefers to use her own skills to develop a star by herself. My admiration for Isabell took a hit last year over the fluphenazine bust, but now she’s risen right back up there on my list of iconic DQs with her horsemanlike and sportsmanlike words.

I won’t let myself watch that German video again because I’m in the US right now and can’t afford the hospital bill if I have an aneurism before I get back to Vancouver tonight (yeah, yeah health care reform and all, but it doesn’t mean aliens get a free trip in an ambulance). But you should watch it, and please tell me if you don’t see a resemblance:

Totilas with new owner Paul Schockemöhle. © 2010 Julia Wentscher