Thursday, December 17, 2009

Third World Record for Moorlands Totilas

A new equine phenom is sweeping the Grand Prix dressage world. Moorlands Totilas, a nine-year-old black Dutch Warmblood stallion, has broken three world records with rider Edward Gal at this year's most lauded freestyle Grand Prix dressage tests. First in July at the World Dressage Masters at Hickstead, with a score of 89.40% (see video of the stunning horse's test here), next in August at the Alltech FEI European Jumping and Dressage Championships at Windsor Castle with a score of 90.70%, and again this week at the Olympia Horse Show World Cup Dressage Qualifier with an unbelievable 92.30%. The gorgeous black stallion displays a rarely before seen lightness combined with raw power and a flashy elegance that have left crowds at these events awestruck.

Detractors have criticized Totilas' showy style, with one message board commenter even going so far as to compare his exaggerated front end movement with that displayed by Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horses. Others have decried Edward Gal's training methodology, arguing that he utilizes the rollkur hyperflexion techniques that got his fellow Netherlands rider Anky van Grunsven into hot water, and that Moorlands flashy front end movement camouflages hind end weakness. I will admit that of the many equestrian disciplines, I am the least experienced with dressage, but I have to say that regardless of the criticism, watching this horse perform is breathtaking. I will leave it to the purists to decide whether what he does is as technically correct as it is artistic.

Three world records in one year, however, would suggest that he's doing something right...

No comments: