Until now everything touched by once-in-a-life-time horse Totilas has been transformed into magic and records. Sensible and skilful Edward Gal deserves all credits to educate the dream of the dressageworld and guide his interior and exterior qualities to dressage records. As is known, the FEI honoured him with the title 'athlete of the year'. While the qualities of Totilas at the Young Horses WC in Verden as a five year old were seen as unnatural and extravaganza, with Edward Gal the 10 year old black stallion Totilas holds all three World Records and this year he won the 25th World Cup Final and the phenomenalin Kentucky.
Not a surprise that the presentation of record breaking horse Totilas and his new German rider Matthias Alexander Rath at Paul Schockemöhle's place in Mühlen broke all records too. Like a king Totilas was presented in the spotlights when the curtain opened, with his new rider, 26 year old Matthias Alexander Rath, with a mixture of pride and reserved shyness sitting in the saddle.
Rath and Schockemöhle took their time and explained all they have in mind with Totilas. It was no surprise for the world that 26 year old bronze team medallist Matthias Alexander Rath would become the new rider of black stallion Totilas (KWPN acknowledged, Gribaldi out of Lominka elite pref prest by Glendale, breeders Jan Schuil and Anna Visser from Broeksterwoude, Friesland in The Netherlands).
At the Reem Acra FEI World Cup qualifier show in Stockholm Matthias Rath confirmed to Edward Gal and to a Swedish magazine that indeed he had tested Totilas, an incredible experience. A few days later the new pair was presented to the world in Germany. After an introduction with a video showing Paul Schockemöhle as European show jumping champion in the years 1981, 1983 and 1985 all on Deister, famous German dressage legends followed on the screen, like Dr Reiner Klimke and Joseph Nechermann. In between the words 'Germany dressage nation' (Deutschland Dressurnation) were visible and with the looks of Totilas and Edward Gal it showed up: 'Totilas the German hope for dressage', in German Deutsche Hoffnungsträger. Than the curtain was opened. Accompanied by the music of Era's Anemo, known of the Freestyle of Edward Gal and the deceased black stallion Gribaldi, Gribaldi's once in a life time son Totilas did passage in the spotlights under his new rider Matthias Alexander Rath. A breathtaking presentation, like everything until now always has been breathtaking when occurring to Totilas.
Speak Totilas language
Father and trainer Klaus Martin Rath said that the challenge for his son Matthias now is to learn to speak the language of Totilas. "We greatly respect and admire the way Edward Gal has trained and educated Totilas. Now it's our turn to learn to speak the language of Totilas. We have to open ourselves totally to learn to understand him and to communicate with him in the right way. To be rewarded by Schockemöhle with the possibility to ride this wonderful horse, is the highlight of a rider's career. We are very grateful for that."
Klaus Martin Rath also explained about the special moment when meeting Totilas for the first time in his stable at Schockemöhles place: "Totilas posted himself in front of me and thoroughly investigated me, from head to toes. A feeling of great respect and humility came over me. Very emotional. This horse has an amazing personality..."
Paul Schockemöhle expressed that Totilas since the first time he saw the horse at the EC in Windsor last year has never been out of his mind again. "I saw Totilas and was deeply impressed. To me, this horse approaches perfection. I have been at ten Olympic Games and even more European Championships, but I have never seen a horse before in all my life with this quality and this character. Totilas combines amazing qualities. He wants to do everything without making a mistake and he has an enormous presentation, pride and self consciousness. He really approaches perfection. I have been following him ever since, also on shows in the preparation and loosing and I have been impressed all the time. When I finally became aware that he would be for sale, I only wanted one thing: buy him. I have booked my flight to Kentucky early just because of Totilas."
In fact Bettina Schockemöhle said to her husband that he had to go ahead with the Totilas plan. Paul Schockemöhle concluded: "The most expensive horses in my life, have not been the failures of my career. Now I already have forgotten the price. What I do know, is that Totilas is a fighter. And I am convinced that he will fight for Matthias too in the future."
Last year American Steffen Peters travelled to Rotterdam to see Totilas. He wanted to see Totilas himself to be prepared to meet him on the showgrounds and to get inspired for his own training. From the beginning a lot of fans especially visited shows, just to see Totilas. Dutch professional trainer Leunus van Lieren is one of the early fans of Totilas who already stepped in his car immediately when he became aware that Totilas was showing on Intermediate level, just to enjoy the quality and to be inspired by this quality.
Now Matthias Alexander Rath prepared himself for sitting in the saddle of Totilas by watching a lot of video's of Totilas and Gal. Already the first time that Rath sat in the saddle, he was struck by the incredible feeling Totilas gave him. "I'm a silent person, but I couldn't help laughing loud when I rode a pirouette for the first time. It was amazing! Totilas has no limits. It could be smaller. And smaller. And even smaller. You can't imagine the physical possibilities of this horse!", Matthias expressed.
His stepmother Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff added: "I can even tell a little joke about this. Matthias tried to do the same with Sterntaler-Unicef when preparing him in Stockholm But the possibilities of the hindlegs of Sterntaler can not be compared with Totilas. His shoulder freedom and hiundlegs are wiuthout comparison. So you cannot ride pirouettes that way with Sterntaler. It was funny."
Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff had some news to declare in Mühlen too. She and Paul Schockemöhle now share Totilas, for the good and the bad. "It's nonsense to talk about sporting rights and breeding rights", Linsenhoff said. "We have stepped into the boat together now and we are grateful that Schockemöhles first eye was on Matthias to ride him!" Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff also said that her memory of the amount paid was faded.
Paul Schockemöhle added that he was too patriotic not to think about a German rider for Totilas, but had no rider be able to ride him, definitely Edward Gal would have been asked again. However, the shared ownership also brings something extra. "And we almost can say 'shared trainership", Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff added. "There has been no moment yet that Paul Schockemöhle stood not aside."
Now in winter sperm to freeze is taken and Totilas receives only some light work from Matthias or Schockemöhles stable rider Anja Barth. When the outdoor season starts, Totilas will move to the Linsenhoff-Rath property in Kronberg to be prepared for the show season by Matthias Rath.
"Also for me, the sport is the first issue for Totilas", Paul Schockemöhle said. Asked about criticizing Dutch training methods in Germany and now celebrating a very Dutch trained horse as the future hope for Germany, Paul Schockemöhle replied that he never has understood the strange so called Roll kur criticism and that he feels the criticism is only from a small not too knowledgeable group.
It's in the planning that the first important championship for Totilas and Rath will be the European championships in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Probably the Dutch fans will pave the roads out of happiness to see Totilas again on home turf.
And what about Edward Gal? Asked by Dutch television, Gal said: "Well, I continue working. I don't have Totilas, but I do have Totilette!", pointing on Sisther de Jeu, also sired by Gribaldi. Sisther de Jeu is owned by Emmy de Jeu. "She is eleven and talented, but needs some more time than her younger brother Totilas as her character is a bit more complicated", Gal explained.
Whatever happens, dressage will not be boring next year...
See some video's of Totilas and Matthias Rath here (in German)