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Friesians in Dressage
What are your opinions of Friesians in the Dressage ring? I've heard both ends of the argument, so I wanna know what you guys think.
People say that they are meant for carts and light draft work, so they will never make it good in Dressage. That is true.. for the original Baroque type. The sportier type is becoming really popular now, and they seem to do really well in dressage. That's just my opinion though.
Do you approve? Why or why not?
We have had several that were excellent 1st and 2nd level horses. We also have a grand prix level. His owner isn't interested in showing him anymore, but when she was she was constantly getting placed in the top 3. Yes, they were cart horses, but with their finer builds and showy movement I don't see why anyone would have a problem with them as dressage horses.
I'm not overly fond of Fresians for dressage. I have known a couple of grand prix Fresians, but, even though they tried their hearts out, they just has breed related shortcomings. The most notable was neither had much in the way of true extensions. However, for the lower levels (third and below) I think they can be fun to ride.
The Fresians I know think trotting faster in lieu of cantering is perfectly ok, especially at the shows!
What it really comes down to is if a Fresian has Fresian like conformation, it will not excel in higher level dressage. This does not mean however that the horse cannot be trained to that level, or preform the movements correctly. It means that it will not be as easy for the horse because it's built to move differently. It will lack excellence, and constant correctness will not come as easily to it as a horse that is built differently.
I would love to own a Friesan because they're pretty to look at. There's a farm full of them on my transit route to school, so it's nice to drive by and get a glimpse BUT for the price tag on them and the fact that they are, at their core, cart horses and not much good for upper level riding, I don't think I'll ever be able to see the point in owning one.
I feel like the horse shouldn't have to change to suit a purpose. Want to do dressage? Get a dressage breed. Don't have a dressage breed? make do, but I hate it when I see breeds lose their 'type'. Friesians were meant to be cart horses, but can be used for dressage and the issue is when they are bred for dressage, but can be cart horses. (I don't know if I explained this right.)
They do show promise, and your argument is valid. However how long will it be until the traditional 'type' are out of the picture and we have a new 'Friesan' that is just a sporty type? And even then, the Friesans that are bred to be sporty still don't excel where a WB might.
One of my dressage horses is Friesian. He is the more modern, sporthorse "type." He's currently training and competing elementary/medium dressage, and has the ability to go further. Yes, he does struggle with his extensions in his trot work and will never be able to extend like some of the warmbloods do, but he's slowly improving. He makes up for his lack of extensions in other areas, and his trainability and willingness is second to none.
One thing I have noticed over here is that a lot of people make the mistake of riding the front end of Friesians and completely forget about the back end. Its really easy to do with these horses and in the lower grades with less experienced judges its easy to get away with and place well because the judge is too distracted by the flashy knee action to notice that the back end is in last week.
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