Our first Keuring event in September 2016, certainly not our last, was educational for us as horse enthusiasts. It was our first encounter with the Friesian breed romanticized by the movie, Ladyhawke. At the Keuring, horses were brought from many locations in the Midwest U.S. They came to West Michigan from Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, as well as from across Michigan. This Keuring, having become the largest in North America, has grown largely due to the efforts of the Michigan Friesian Horse Club, a chapter of FHANA. They are known for their cooperative “a-rising-tide-floats-all-boats” attitude. All the members we have met, whether breeders or show horse owners seem to have the same goal—grow the club, grow the breed.
Back to the Keuring Discussion
Speaking of the breed, I promised you a little more information on the details of the Keuring and the breed. Twenty different categories of judging occurred at the 2016 KFPS event, including foals (colts & fillies) born in the spring, yearling mares, 2-year mares star-eligible mares, geldings, 3-year-old stallions, and approved studbook stallions. The hardcopy program we received revealed the judging criteria. Although this was not technically a competition, some additional awards were given at the end of each category’s evaluation. Horses of the same category were paraded in the arena and then one by one they were judged against the same standard of excellence. After individual judging, all the horses in the category were invited back into the arena for a final parade and viewing by the judges. Although multiple horses in the category may have received 1st Premie (designation of adherence to classic Friesian appearance and movement), the judges awarded a red ribbon (2nd place) and blue ribbon (1st place) at their discretion for horses that stood out among their peers. We enjoyed how owners cheered for each other as these additional awards were given.
And oh, the beauty! One of the reasons the Friesian looks so majestic is the way he/she carries the head. An elevated neck with a slight curvature, along with the noble head, presents a striking appearance. The best withers-to-croup flow is level; judges mark a horse down if the crop (from the point of the hip to the dock, or top of the tail) is too high. One could time a metronome to the gate of a Friesian, whether walking (4-count), trotting (2-count) or cantering (3-count). They also watch for “power” in the movement. We couldn’t get enough of the experience and we look forward to more special appointments with these regal creatures!
Up Close and Personal
Finally, I promised you information on how to see Friesians up close and personal. During a recent interview with Janice DeBoer VerMerris and her sister Amy Kroll, of Dorr, MI (Friesian Connection), we learned some details about their planned Open House. On May 6, 2017, they will host the public for a great family day, including viewing and petting opportunities, and an ice cream social…and it’s free! You’ll encounter, like Char & I have, the accommodating owners, and majestic breed we enjoy so much. We hope to see many of you there!