Edward Gal and Moorland Totilas set a new world record with an amazing score of 92.3% in his Grand Prix Freestyle performance at the FEI World Cup FEI World Cup™ Dressage series at the Grand Hall at Olympia in London. Amazingly, it’s the third time this year that this partnership has broken records. Their first record breaking ride was at Hickstead in July, followed by the Alltech FEI European Championships at Windsor in August.
Scores like this are unheard of in upper level dressage and the impact has been reverberating across equine forums and magazines. People have strong opinions — both positive and negative about the accolades heaped on the pair.
Critics feel that the Dutch stallion is more about showmanship than performance. The say that his movement looks “manufactured” or “over the top”, that he’s behind the vertical, that he shows little longitudinal flexibility, and that his hind end does not match the elevation of his forelegs. They voice concern that his scores are inflated and do not accurately reflect his performance.
Others feel that his power, presence and elevation, particularly in the passage and piaffe, put him in a different class than his competition. His lateral flexibility is excellent. He is a horse that exudes power. But he also looks relaxed and happy, especially at the free walk and as he leaves the arena. Many upper level horses show a great deal of tension in their tests and I don’t see that here.
I’m still on the fence here. There are elements of his test that I think are fabulous. I think that his scores are too high, but that he does have fantastic talent.
Certainly, these scores show that the extravagant movement shown by Tortilas are what the judges are rewarding. So if Totilas is a “freak of nature”, what does this say about the future of dressage at the upper levels. And will it trickle down to the lower levels where most of us play?
Take a look at this Freestyle and let me know what you think.