Dressage Stallion Totilas’ Owners, Rider Face PETA Complaint

Totilas is being treated unethically and in violation of German animal welfare laws, one lawyer says.

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International champion dressage stallion Totilas is being treated unethically and in violation of German animal welfare laws, according to one welfare organization lawyer. Specifically, the horse suffers from forced hyperflexion when ridden and from constant isolation in a box stall when not in training, the lawyer said.

The German branch of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization has filed a complaint against Paul Schockemöhle and Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, Totilas’s owners, and Matthias Alexander Rath, his rider, with the country’s prosecuting office, said Davina Bruhn, LLD, a lawyer for PETA Germany.

"Since he didn’t fulfill the expectations of his owners, Mr. Rath began to train him with the questionable hyperflexion technique, which many recognized horse experts reject," Bruhn told The Horse.

These experts include Gerd Heuschmann, DVM; Heinz Meyer, PhD; and Kathrin Kienapfel, MSc, who "clearly state that training with hyperflexion causes severe physical problems for horses’ musculature, vertebrae, and ability to balance, and that it could also cause psychological disorders," Bruhn said. "The researchers agree that the hyperflexion ‘method’ leads to irreversible damages and is under no circumstances consistent with the German animal welfare law

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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