The German branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed charges against Totilas’ owners, Paul Schockemöhle and Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff. In a press release, PETA stated that the horse is being trained and ridden in rollkur by Matthias Rath, which they consider to be torture. The organization also objected to the fact that the stallion, who won individual, freestyle and team gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.) with the Netherlands' Edward Gal before being sold to Schockemöhle and Linsenhoff in 2010, is kept in a stall.
“On suspicion of animal cruelty PETA filed a criminal complaint after months of research—on the one hand due to the rollkur, on the other hand due to the fact that Totilas [has] no free grazing available,” said the release. “PETA believes that horses need to be sure to contact counterparts in order to live out their social contacts. Moreover, it is very important for the health of animals that they are allowed to move freely. That is part of the guidelines of the Ministry of Agriculture to keep horses. We also call for the banning of harsh training methods such as rollkur.”
Germany’s Rath recently started training Totilas, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Gribaldi—Lominka, Glendale), under the tuteldge of Dutch team trainer Sjef Janssen. Rath and Totilas last competed together at the Hagen CDI (Germany) in April, with Totilas winning the Grand Prix and Grand Prix freestyle.
“To make the horse obedient and to show him who is the ‘master of the house,’ they chose to apply rollkur,” continued the PETA statement. “This step Rath and his coach justified with the fact that is this method of training Totilas already knew from the Netherlands, and also the rider needed more control over the horse.”