It was my 72nd birthday yesterday. One doesn’t make too much fuss about the event these days because I have already enjoyed a lot of birthdays. I ate and drank a few of my favourites and took a phone calls from old friends, two of whom are even more ancient than me. It was too cold a day to do much and my horse had been wrapped up in four layers (repeat four) layers of blankets. Her new carer has strong ideas as to how a competition horse should be kept. Eventually I sat down and wrote an article for a forum about a Dutch horse named Totilas. Totilas is a phenomenon who repeatedly scores in dressage competitions 10 points out of 10 points. He is an amazing horse to watch and even if the watcher does not know anything about dressage, the grace of this four legged black and beautiful creature can be recognised instantly. Totilas and a Dutch rider named Edward Gal have forged a partnership which will be in the record book for decades maybe centuries. However the horse is owned by a sponsor and recently he has been sold to a famous German show jumper named Schockemohle who is reputed to have paid about US$20 million for the stallion. Now it is very common for race horse to change hands for a fortune but this sum for a dressage horse sets new standards. A race horse only has to run very fast in a straight line whereas a Grand Prix dressage horse has to perform some very fancy movements in a very precise manner. The rider, Mr Gall, is probably upset at his horse being driven away to Germany. Personally I suspect the horse will be equally upset when he discovers that it is not going back home to his mates - equine and human - but that is a matter for debate. The confessed reasoning for the purchase is said to be that the Schockemohles want to ensure the success of the German dressage team for decades to come There is no doubt that there are some very clever German riders and the national team wins time after time, much to the chagrin of the British and now I suspect the Dutch. In the British national psyche we accept that we cannot always win even at the sports we invented and in which are supposed to excel but there are exceptions to this way of thinking. Luckily the Germans don’t play cricket or rugby and we can’t seem to play tennis. But there are two sports in which both the Germans and the British play well: namely ‘football’ or ‘soccer’ as an American might say and horse sports, so long as the saddle used is not fitted with a horn. For the English national football team (there is no longer a British team) to be beaten in a football championship is a disaster for the English. It is all a bit like Dunkirk, when having lost the battle, we conducted a glorious retreat in little boats to live to fight another day. Equally whenever we win a match between England and Germany, the German team slinks home in ignominious defeat to face the wrath of their countrymen. Yes, what I am saying is that the match is an extension of war by sporting means in which no one gets killed but the players might get hurt. Football can be a vicious game. As usual we Brits play the game according to our rules. Chelsea FC currently the premier club is owned by a Russian and the biggest share of Manchester United, the world famous club, is owned by Malcolm Glazer an American. The British will flog anything which commands a price. But returning to horse riding. Well the stage is set. Already semen from Totilas is being sent off to carefully selected mares, most of which will be warmbloods. The Germans are intent on breeding their way to victory One wonders whether a British breeder will be even given the chance to buy drops of precious genes even at an exorbitant price. We are allowed to buy the occasional Trakehner warmblood stallion because both Germany and Britain are part of the European Union and there are rules against restrictive practices. But my guess is that, under some pretext, we Brits won’t be allowed to acquire by fair means any Totty juice. The Olympic Games, which includes equestrian sports is coming up in London in 2012. Totilas will be there, bedecked in black, red and yellow. Herr Schockemohle expects to win. Methinks it would be an idea to form under some international alliance a team of Dutch, British and, may I suggest, American horses and riders to defeat these Germans who are adopting unfair practices in a determination to be masters of the world. The French won’t help us Brits. The Italians would side with the Germans and the Spaniards will stand by and watch. You Americans have come to our aid previously in times of stress, what about now? Perfidious Albion can’t let the Hun go unchallenged. Come to think of it, those Russians have some pretty smart horses.