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‘A wonder horse who changed dressage’: top riders’ tributes to Totilas

Tributes have poured in from across the equestrian community following the death of global dressage star Totilas, at the age of 20.

The Gribaldi son had enormous success under Edward Gal in 2009 and 2010, breaking world records and winning numerous gold medals.

Sharing podiums with Edward and “Toto” on several occasions was Britain’s Laura Tomlinson and Mistral Hojris (Alf), silver medallists at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2010 where Totilas scooped a trio of gold medals.

“I was number two to Edward and Totilas for quite a long time – Alf and I even held the WEG grand prix record for about five minutes in Kentucky, until Totilas entered the arena,” said Laura.

“Totilas was a wonder horse who changed the world of dressage. There was so much hype around him, and enormous interest in our sport from other disciplines and from outside the equestrian world too. It was a really fun, exciting time to be at the top of the sport.

“I had a really fun rivalry with Edward, who was a great sport, and the rest of the Dutch team – when they won team gold in 2010 my mum bought them all limoncello, and when we won gold a year later at the Europeans in Rotterdam, the Dutch team had already organised a round of limoncello for us in return,” Laura told H&H.

“The partnership and the silhouette of Edward and Toto became iconic, something those of us lucky enough to see them live will never forget.”

Carl Hester was also a member of the British dressage team who competed against Totilas throughout the horse’s time at the top of the sport.

“How privileged I feel to have seen him live,” Carl told H&H. “And how much we all owe him for his incredible presence and his ability to bring a new audience to the dressage world.”

Charlotte Dujardin, who took over the mantle at the very top of the sport with Valegro in the years following Totilas’ reign, said: “Totilas, you were a dominant horse of our time and will always be remembered. My thoughts and condolences to all that have been involved with this sweet horse and to those who, like myself, are very sad to hear of his passing.”

Many other British riders have shared their favourite memories of Totilas, including para dressage world champion Sophie Wells, who was a sheet collector at the European Championships in 2009, where Totilas became the first horse to ever break the 90% barrier.

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“I’m unbelievably grateful to have seen Totilas in the flesh many times, but to have collected his sheets at the Europeans in Windsor in 2009 when I was 19 years old is a clear highlight,” said Sophie. “RIP special boy, you changed dressage.”

The FEI has also paid tribute, posting: “Thank you for the records broken, memories made and the history your hoofbeats created. An out-and-out legend that inspired fans around the world, Totilas will for ever be remembered as one of the greats who changed the sport. Fly high, Toto.”

Don’t miss the current issue of Horse & Hound for a full feature charting the life and career of Totilas, on sale now.

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