La Vita È Dolce

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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 7 professional shares the heart horse Friesian she found through a client. 

By Kristen Aggers

Gait (Dolce is his barn name) came into my life through my good friend and client Alice Behray.  She and I met when I was selling another Friesian that she came to try.  While that horse did not work out, she found another Friesian and entered my training program.  Years later, we lost her horse, Tieske, to a tragic accident, devastating us both.  

Alice wanted to continue riding and keep Friesians in her life, so we began searching for that next special horse.  Fast forward to Dolce, who she found through a Friesian broker.  Dolce was imported and she quickly placed a deposit down without meeting him in person.  As her trainer, I was skeptical; he was young, untrained, and taller than I wanted for her.  However, Dolce was also beautiful with three good gaits.  Alice rode him and it all went well, so we proceeded forward.

The trials of bringing Dolce to the barn were varied.  While he was represented as having “some training”, he lacked steering, was not through or on the bit, and his canter was gigantic – none of which is ideal for an amateur.   However, Dolce flourished.  He was more than I ever expected, in heart, soul, and gaits.  Alice is family, she is the most incredible client and has Dolce’s best interests at heart.  While learning how to ride him (he was the complete opposite of her previous Friesian) she sponsored me on him, providing me the opportunity to not only compete, but clinic with top trainers like Morten Thomsen and Christine Traurig.

Dolce is not your typical Friesian. Through training, I have helped him become sensitive, forward thinking and light in the contact.  Dolce had significant success training through Second Level.  He was always in the top ten California Dressage Society (CDS) and USDF awards.  He has had numerous high point awards and multiple scores in the 70s.  Dolce is an impressive mover, who I like to joke is storming the castle with his gigantic, thundering canter.  

Dolce with Kristen (in the saddle) and owner Alice (right)

My training goals with Dolce include moving him up the levels, the biggest stumbling block being the flying changes.  Flying changes can be difficult for Friesians and this held true for Dolce.  It took several years to teach him to do reliable ones without bucking, bolting, or being late behind. I constantly had to adjust my expectations and approach, while utilizing different exercises.  Achieving consistent changes was one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve fulfilled on Dolce.  While changes are a simple milestone, it is one of the biggest for us.  

Dolce is one in a million. 

Every time I sit on him, it is like coming home.  He has incredible talent for piaffe and passage, his lateral work is easy, and he is an absolute joy to ride every day. With achieving flying changes, we have started working on tempi changes, while showing a blast of a Third Level freestyle.  

The sky’s the limit and, through his owner, Dolce is my heart horse!

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