It’s hard to imagine how much pressure Matthias Alexander Rath felt when he rode the great Totilas for the first time in public (keep in mind this is a stallion show, not a competition). He’s only that the ride since WEG and the “newness” of the partnership shows. Obviously Rath is a talented and sensitive rider — it’s a very respectable performance — but there are a few bobbles in the ride that show their partnership is still under development. Rath most likely uses his aids differently than Edward Gal and that will be confusing for Totilas. The errors are corrected immediately (and tactfully); they will likely not occur over time.
It must be terribly difficult to take over the ride on a horse that has been so “tuned” to a particular rider, especially when the horse has been trained to the highest levels. Each of us brings our own idiosyncrasies to the way we ride. In the case of a top rider like Edward Gal, his individual technique may be invisible to us, but crystal clear to his horses.
Some people have commented that it seems that Rath is riding Totilas longer in the neck. This would mean that Totilas would need to develop a new way of carrying himself and using his muscles differently.
Conventional wisdom says that it takes about a year for a horse and rider at this level to forge a partnership. It will be fun to see how Rath and Totilas progress over the coming months.