Karen Robinson reports in from her attendance at the Global Dressage Forum. This is an excerpt from the discussion about Totilas. Check out the rest of her reports from the Forum on the horse-canada site. Vintage Karen!
So, at the end of a pretty warm and fuzzy couple of days, Richard Davison couldn’t resist getting things a bit stirred up before we all headed off home again. Unfortunately for Arthur Kottas, the seat warmer got turned on under his chair. The issue? A certain cover photograph from a certain high profile magazine, showing Totilas in a less-than-perfectly-through-and-over-the-back moment at Windsor. In fact, Kottas’ comment to Richard about the photo (and I strongly suspect he had no idea Richard was going to put him on the spot and speak pubicly about it) was that he couldn’t identify from the photo what gait the horse was in. Totilas’ one front leg is doing an ultimate Sieg Heil, but the hind legs are far from looking like they are participating in an extended trot. I have watched a lot of video of Totilas and I have seen a lot of pretty awesome looking extended trots, with an overtrack that leaves no doubt as to what is going on in the engine room. The neck is short, sure. But I already talked about that in my Windsor blog.
How many unfortunate photos are there of otherwise correct and harmonious performance? Well let me tell you – for every good picture there is a hay stack of losers. But did people ever go to town on this Totilas photo when Richard brought it up. Perhaps there hadn’t been enough discourse during the previous two days and people were hungry for a scrap – or perhaps there are always individuals who see a red cape when something controversial is thrown in the ring. After Arthur made a comment to the effect that if you control the hind quarters you control the whole horse, Ton de Ritter – who had been the last presenter of this GDF and who is known for rather strongly voiced opinions, and who just happens to be Dutch – said (in reference to Edward and Totilas, as well as Adelinde and Parcival): “these special pairs will bring the spectators back to the stadium, and we should be grateful to them. I don’t think we should be discussing them in this way here.”
Poor Arthur peeped it hadn’t been his idea to bring it up, and I believe he really meant that. He has been at the GDF for the past four years I’ve attended, and has never had anything but constructive things to say. Launching a debate over a single photograph hardly seems like something to get too worked up about – unless your name is Birgit Popp. The journalist jumped right in by condemning the entire forum for not talking about things like the incriminating photo. “I think we are doing a very dishonest thing. We have to discuss everything, not just what is nice. Totilas looks like that in every picture and it is not extended trot.” As various members of the audience quietly booed her, Laurens van Lieren said, “not even Totilas is perfect”, reinforcing the oft-forgotten fact that a score of ten means ‘excellent’, not ‘perfect’. I guess Richard felt compelled to try and swing the boat around to a smoother tack by asking Birgit what gait she would have chosen to illustrate for a cover shot of Totilas: piaffe was her answer. Well Birgit, your glass may perpetually be half empty, but I think I represent the majority of dressage fans when I say I would consider cutting off a limb to ride an extended trot on Totilas. And I want to know more about how Edward has trained him. On the GDF questionnaire we were asked to write down three trainers’ names we’d like to see next year. Edward was one of mine.