Stallionshow in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands 01.2009

Every year thousands spectators come to the Netherlands to participate in the Stallion Show. This event is held in Leeuwarden annually in January, as usual in WTC Expo building complex. This year Poland was represented by quite large group of Friesian breeders and fans- almost 20 people!

The show started on Thursday with second round of judging young stallions, fighting for breeding permission and Studbook entry. 71 three years old and 11 four years old were judged. There were 11 Andries 415 sons, 9- Doaitsen 420 sons, 8 Beart 411 sons, 5 Felle 422 sons. Four stallions were Onne 376 sons as well as Olrik 383 sons, Aan 416 gave 3 stallions, Fetse 349, Mintse 384, Folkert 353, Gradus 356, Jasper 366, Wobke 403, Wikke 404, Bente 412, Arjen 417, Dries 421- 2 young stallions each.
From whole 82 stallions judged, 38 qualified to the third round of judging.
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Thursday evening held a new event- stallion competition ("Pavo KFPS Hengstencompetitie"). Young stud stallions competed against each other in dressage and driving competitions divided into classes. In dressage level L Maeije 440 won the champion title, Jorn 430 won in his group, competing in level M, and Arjen in level Z (most advanced). The winner of driving competition was Weird 409, he didn't have an especially good test that night, but he had a really good lead going in, so he still won the overall competition.

The next day started with couple of clinics. We could participate in several lectures and presentations about general aspects of feeding and keeping Friesian horses, lounging, classical riding. There were also a lot of clinics about judging the Friesian horse and preparing for "keuring". Unfortunately this clinics took place in several places around WTC Expo building at the same time, so you had to choose in which participate. Some of them was really interesting, other gave only very basic information.
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Friday afternoon was important especially for breeders, whose stallions participated in third round of judging. Judges had last opportunity to pick up the best of stallions, who will be qualified for performance tests in Ermelo- last step before becoming Studbook stallion with breeding license. 26 young stallions completed this round, 4 of them were at age 4 years old. For every horse judges gave comprehensive comments. For those eliminated, the common themes were built downhill (when the croup is higher point than withers) and poor use of rear, eventually too heavy on forehand.  It was noticeable that stallions presented this year for approval were much more higher than last years. Friesian horse is becoming evoluting  more and more into a sport horse - noble, light, higher. Among chosen stallions again Andries gave most offspring (4 stallions qualified), on second position Beart and Doaitsen- 3, Aan, Felle and Dries-2. Afterwards KFPS selected a set of stallions for drug testing.
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Friday evening was really fantastic! There were a lot of shows- music, lights, dancers and magnificent Friesian horses. That is the main reason for a lot of people coming thousands kilometers every year.

We could virtually go through history of the Friesian trotters. De Friese Dravers (Friesian Trotters Association) showed us changing picture of Friesian races - "under the blanked and pulling sulky".
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The greatest theme show was presented by the Stalhouderij Meijer, where the star of the whole show was a brave little filly with puppet strapped aside it! They showed even much more- roman chariot pulled by Friesians and "Friesian ambulance".
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Later in the evening the young riders compete against each other in show cart driving competition but it wasn't done as usual. They have been disguised as the characters from many famous movies like Men in Black, Pirates of Caribbean, Sister Act etc.
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In addition stallions' Adel 357 retirement ceremony was a big event. Spectators gave him standing ovation when he walked into the scene along a red carpet. He was named a Friesian ambassador due to his great impact in dressage field.
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Later there was an exciting moment when Friesians take on the challenge with Ponies in crazy race through the cones- the sand was flying when they took sharp corners.
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At the end of fabulous show we have been taken into the past again, to see different roles of the Friesian horse through centuries- from knights times to contemporary role in sport. It was great spectacle filled (up) with gorgeous costumes, dynamic music, paces full of grace and dignity.
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The competition for the world championship began on Saturday morning. It was definitely the culminating point of whole Stallion Show. Arena was full of breeders and fans since  early morning.
The classes were broken up by when the stallion were approved. First 13 years old stallions (and older) came in, to please the hungry crowd. They didn't compete for the champion title, but it's always great to see them- majesty, calmness and long beautiful manes.
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Stallions aged 10 to 12 approved on offspring made up the first judged group. Some of them could prove themselves the last time before crossing thirteen years old. In this group Sape 381 was placed first and Wobke 403 was placed second.

Next horses were divided into 7 classes by when the stallions were approved for service- from newly approved stallions (in 2008) till the stallions registered in Studbook in 2002. This year stallions didn't receive premies, they were judged on their performance and ranked for their class. The top two from each class goes on to the finals. An exception to this rule were 3 stallions born in 1998 (Tjalf, Tsjabring and Tietse) admitted to stud service in 2008 according to the abbreviated version of the inspection procedure. These stallions were not eligible for the championship.

From the youngest group an unqualified victory went to extremely good moving Stendert. Doaitsen great son Sake was placed second. He has already had a long list of mares for service.

If we take a look at other groups we have to mention unbeatable Haitse 425- he is always showing the best movements flying in front of the crowd. He showed himself as good as always and was placed first in his group. Almost as good as he was great stallion Gjalt 426.
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From all 7 groups fourteen stallions were chosen for championship. After viewing them once again judges narrowed this group to eight finalists: Doaitsen, Gjalt, Haitse, Jerke, Maurus, Mewes, Stendert, Sape. Then they went down to 4: Doaitsen, Gjalt, Maurus i Stendert. After the presentation of this small group of great horses judges made up their minds and chose Doaitsen 420 as a reserve champion and Maurus 441 received Word champion title!
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Breaks during the whole championship were also full of great shows. We admired beautiful show given by Eveline Smitz- Karrer and her stallions, known from Appassionata. They showed Friesian horses on a Spanish Riding School's performance- they were almost as good in capriole, levade and Spanish walk like Lipizzan horses.
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Moreover the big event was also the preferent title declarations. Stallions Tsjalling 235, Jochem 259, Lammert 260, Naen 264 was declared preferent posthumously and 19 years old Tsjerk 328 was decorated with his owners- Toonens' family. He proudly showed himself with his best progeny on the scene.
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For this those, who were seeking for a nice stallion, were organized two auctions. On Friday three years old stallions were put on sale. I have to mention that it was great opportunity to buy a horse because this year prices were really affordable. On Saturday for the first time in the history of KFPS the Elite Sale was held. A fine group of nine three years old stallions was selected, five of them qualified to performance tests in Ermelo. So it was a unique opportunity to obtain almost approved stallion! For foreigners it was also a great chance  to buy a great stallion with vb ster title and breeding permission for countries outside Netherlands (like Poland). The highest price of 76 thousand euro reached stallion Ulrik fan'e Vesta Hoeve (Dries x Tsjerk). The total sum from this auction reached 348 200 EUR.
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Apart from all this attractions Friesian loves could make a big shopping as always, also meet the stallions owners and have a little chat with them. Many thanks to Anneke van den Ijssel- due to her effort the whole event was translated into English. It was a huge help for  lots of foreigners to understand what is going on and learn a lot of useful and interesting things. To sum up I have to admit: the show this year was just magnificent!

© Copyright by Izabela Grzonka