Catching Up with Matthias Rath Before the 2011 CDI Wiesbaden
There was much excitement surrounding the debut performance of Totilas and his new German Partner Matthias Rath. Taking the centreline for the first time last weekend at the 2011 CDI in Munich, the home crowd helped to cheer the new couple to a most welcomed victory.
"I am very very happy with the test in Munich," says Rath. When asked if he was particularly happy with comments from spectators at the event who said that Rath had Totilas more 'open in the neck', Matthias replied smilingly, "Well that is a nice comment, isn´t it?"
The German champion admits that "of course their was a lot of pressure", on the new pair to perform well. But the 26 year-old from Kronberg was able to overcome those pressures, and with no major mistakes the pair scored a tidy 76.787%.
"Totilas was very relaxed in Munich and we grow together more and more the last weeks."
Rath says he has developed his own relationship with the famous stallion, his own connection and that he was very excited to share that with the world, particularly in his home country.
"I had a good feeling that day and we were very concentrated. It made a lot of fun to ride in front of this great audience."
Although the 76.787% is a long way from the horse's record score with Edward Gal, Rath was pleased with the result, hoping to make the first start without any expectations.
"I didn´t expect anything. It was the first start with Totilas and it was our aim to see how he reacts in a test and the arena. That was the most important thing for us to find out. So it only was a first step on our upcoming way."
When asked if riding the most famous dressage horse in the world would make it more or less difficult for the pair to earn a fair result Rath says he really hopes to make a fresh start with the horse, and hopes that he will be judged as an entirely fresh horse and rider combination.
"After our first test in Munich an FEI judge -who came from the Netherlands- said in a press conference: “We do not compare you and Totilas with Edward Gal and Totilas. From now on we will judge you and Totilas.”
"That made me very happy!"
Although it will be difficult for people not to compare Rath's performance on the horse to his previous performance's with the Dutch rivals, Rath is determined to carve his own path with the horse.
"We really just have to go our own way in the next months and years."
The couples plan is to qualify in the German team for CHIO Aachen in July, and then for the European Championships in August. And from there who knows, olympics?
"We will see what is possible, I am confident."
With one win under his belt, Rath will return to the arena again at the CDI in wiesbaden 12th and 13th of June, this time with greater knowledge of the horse and what will produce his best performance's in competition.
"How to prepare Totilas best for the test, was also something we had to find out. The first day we worked 30 minutes directly before the test. The second day we worked 45 minutes before the test and that was definitely better for Totilas. This was an important experience for us."
Of course the aim of all dressage riders is to be continually improving their performance and their results but Rath says he is not trying to reach any particular percentage or place.
"It is not my aim this year to win tests or to get this or that score. My aim is to grow together with Totilas more and more - from test to test."
But enough about Rath. Totilas the famous warmblood is a playful stallion that loves having two balls inside his box to play with; one green and the other red. The balls are also taken to place in the box at the tournaments. Plus, he loves apples much more than carrots.
If only it were carrots and balls that was the secret to producing a horse like Totilas!
- by Sarah Warne for Eurodressage.com
Photos © Selene Scarsi