The mighty Friesian! We are celebrating this fairytale-looking breed as our May Breed of the Month on #YourDressage!
Dressage riders who choose Friesians as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International, Friesian Horse Association of North America, Friesian Horse Society, Inc (FHS), Friesian Sport Horse Registry LLC, and Friesian Sporthorse Association – FSA are all participating organizations
Here, a Region 2 rerider shares her pursuit of Friesian dressage dreams, and the young mare she’s chasing new dreams with.
By Julie Williams
My childhood was full of a fascination with Friesians. Growing up in northern Michigan’s upper peninsula, in a family of non-horse people, I was not presented many opportunities to see a living, breathing Friesian. But, I was able to get my first non-Friesian horse at eight years old.
As I entered adulthood, I moved to northwestern Wisconsin, worked full time, married, and became a mom. I was 57 when my son left home, and that was when my Friesian dream resurfaced. So, I began my search. A friend and coworker found a three-year-old Friesian mare in Minnesota – less than two hours from my home. So, on a very cold February day, in 2011, I went to see her and immediately fell in love with this magical horse. Those perky ears and loving eyes looked right into my inner soul. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had only three legs, Abigail of Friesian Stable had my heart right then and there.
Late that night, I was thinking about how I was going to go about purchasing this horse; I had to have her! My dear dad had passed away the year prior, but I always felt he was right there with me in many of my life decisions. I felt his hand on my shoulder that night and heard his direction, “Buy the horse.” All I had to do was figure out how. After nearly a year of making payments, she was finally all mine.
Trying to train and ride a young, wiggly Friesian, after over 25 years of not riding, is not for the faint of heart, and it is not like getting back on a bicycle. Out of shape and with no confidence, I fell off a few times (luckily I was uninjured), but Abby always stood by me, encouraging me to keep trying. I persevered, even though several times I felt this horse deserved better than I could do for her. I didn’t want to embarrass this stunning, smart, 15.2 hand sports coupe of a horse with a heart of gold.
In 2016, we found our perfect trainer, Brittany Davis. She knew and understood Friesians. I retired after 42 years of federal government employment, moved Abby to Brittany’s farm an hour from my home, and we’ve pursued our Friesian dressage dreams ever since.
Guided by Brittany, Abby received her KFPS/FHANA Sport Predicate for dressage in 2020. In 2021, I began pursuing my goal of earning my USDF Bronze Medal – which is something I NEVER thought I could do. I received my First and Second Level scores in 2021, and now, at age 68, Abby and I are showing Third Level in 2022.
There is so much more to this story of a once in a lifetime horse. The Friesian breed is like no other. Once the bond is made, you are partners forever, whether it’s in a show ring, or on a trail, or just hanging out together.
Life is short. Find joy. Buy the horse. Ride the horse!