Totilas’ owners face cruelty investigation

  • A senior public prosecutor has confirmed that she will investigate allegations dressage superstar Totilas is being ill-treated.

    The German branch of the extremist animal rights group, PETA, filed charges against Totilas’ owners, Paul Schockemöhle and Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, in October.

    It claims the stallion is being trained in the controversial rolkur method, is kept in isolation from other horses and is not given turnout.

    A spokesman for Totilas’ connections had told H&H that the allegations “did not merit comment”.

    But on 6 December, Frankfurt prosecutor Doris Möller-Scheu told German newspaper Die Welt that she would investigate the claims.

    “Based on the assessment of the [state] animal welfare officer, we decided not to drop the case,” she said.

    An investigator will visit Totilas’ yard in Kronberg and inspect the stable management there.

    Totilas has not enjoyed the record-breaking scores he achieved with the Netherlands’ Edward Gal since being ridden by Ms Linsenhoff’s stepson, Matthias Rath.

    The pair were recently dropped from the German Olympic “A” team.

    They have not competed since June and missed London 2012 because Matthias was suffering from glandular fever.

    No date has been set for their return to competition and it is thought unlikely they will contest any of the World Cup qualifiers this winter.

    Paul Schockemöhle has announced that Totilas will have reduced stud duties this season, in order to focus on competition.

    Klaus Martin Rath, Matthias’ father and co-trainer, said Totilas was “doing well” and he was “totally calm” about the investigation.

    Matthias’ trainer Sjef Janssen told a Dutch news website he was surprised prosecutors were pursuing the case.

    “PETA is not even taken seriously by the biggest detractors of the training programmes in the horseworld,” he said.

    “These people have nothing to do with professional horse sport, of which they have no knowledge.”

    A German magazine, FOCUS, has claimed that the Frankfurt prosecutor is examining a secretly filmed video showing Totilas weaving in his box.

    Additional reporting by Astrid Appels

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (20 December 2012)

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