The dapper Dutch Harness Horse! We are celebrating them as our May Breed of the Month on YourDressage! We recently asked our social media followers to post a photo of their favorite American Dutch Harness Horse or cross to be featured in a gallery on YourDressage! We will be sharing stories from folks who love this breed all through the month of May.
Did you know that dressage riders who choose American Dutch Harness Horses as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as the American Dutch Harness Horse Association and KWPN of North America are both participating organizations?
Here, a Region 5 trainer shares the story of the two young Dutch Harness Horses she purchased through a broker and brought home to Las Vegas – and how they have thrived in their dressage careers so far!
By Annette Spinetti–Duncan
My journey with Dutch Harness Horses began on an evening scroll through Facebook, when I saw a friend of mine post a picture of this stunning black 3-year-old colt with four white socks, a snip, and a white belly spot. His name was Lincoln (Zaffier Mb x Corine by Torino) and let me tell you, I fell in love fast and hard. I immediately commented on how beautiful he was, and guess what?! He was for sale. The next day I bought him and got him on the trailer to make the trip from Indiana to Las Vegas, NV.
When Lincoln arrived, he was very green and shy, but WOW, what a looker. After giving him some time to adjust, I sent him to another local trainer, Sariana Lee, who was well-respected with breaking horses. Ironically, she impressed me so much, she’s now my Assistant Trainer.
After a few months, he came home and we got to work. He was honestly a little slower to get going than I had anticipated. He was insecure and very spooky, so I decided the best move was to take my time. After a year of a lot of groundwork, dressage basics, etc., we competed in our first horse show at Training Level, in November 2020. He crushed it. I’m so glad we took it slow, because between 2020 and now, he’s won various Adequan®/USDF Year-End Awards, placed in the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards through the American Dutch Harness Horse Association, and attended two Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championship shows!
This year we stepped up into Third Level, as he learned his flying changes in a heartbeat and feels very secure and confident in the double bridle. Lincoln prefers the harder work and likes to be challenged (reminds me a lot of me!). He is definitely going to be a horse for the big ring, no question in my mind. He is already schooling tempi changes and pirouettes, along with piaffe and passage. My love for Lincoln and Dutch Harness Horses didn’t end there though; I had to get another (story as old as time!).
Enter Nashville BR. I went through the same broker as Lincoln and scored another winner. Nashville was purchased as a coming 2-year-old. His Sire is Globetrotter and his Dam is Jansody VJK. Like Lincoln, Nashville also has four white socks and a big white belly spot, along with a blaze. I saw some videos and, again, I was sold.
After Nashville arrived at my barn in Las Vegas, I spent a few months with him and decided to send him out to pasture with another 2-year-old that lived at my barn. Nashville and the other 2-year-old would go back and forth between pasture and our barn for the next year. Once mature enough, I got him started. He was the easiest colt I’ve ever started in my career of being a rider and trainer. He was a gem. Balanced, comfortable, sensible, and a quick learner. However, because my herd was growing, I made the painful decision to sell him. My heart broke when someone was ready to buy him and I knew I made a mistake. Well, the universe works in an interesting way, because the person ultimately passed on him. After that, I made the call, he’s NOT for sale.
Nashville finds dressage extremely easy, yet thoroughly enjoys it, commanding attention in the show arena and consistently scoring very high. He started his show career at Training Level in November of 2022. He is a sponge and continues to impress me daily. I can’t imagine my life without him.
Dutch Harness Horses come in all shapes and sizes, just like any other Warmblood. They don’t just have to pull carts. They are extremely versatile horses with the aptitude to learn. I will forever be a big fan of the breed and can’t wait to see what the future brings for my boys!