About Friesians

Click here to see my testimonial video to Jane Savoie's training techniques. If you want to invest in YOURSELF and not pay a trainer to do it for you, this could be the best money you've ever spent.  It was for me!  You can order Jane's course if you click on her photo below...under "Training Friesians"

Training Friesians....
Wouldn't be nice if someone who had experience training Friesians to Grand Prix level would write up a detailed lesson plan complete with DVDs and Audio CDs that would guide you to train your Friesian all the way to 3rd level?  Well, someone has!  Jane Savoie!!!  You can order this course on Tuesday December 20th, for 24 hours only (if you want all the free Holiday bonuses she is throwing in with the course orders)!!!  
Jane's Friesian "Moshi" is one of the star demo horses of the DVD series!  I find it helps me to see a Friesian do the exercises.  Moshi is out of Stam 27, a line known for their desire to work ("Werklust"). Moshi's sire is Jurjen 303 and his damsire is Falke 291. I have an article on Stam 27 on my website if  you click here.   Stam 27 is the line from which Rypke 321 and Jasper 366 come from.


Even though I, a COMPLETE AMATEUR am the trainer and the rider, Hindrik and I were top in the nation for FHANA All Breeds 2nd Level Adult Amateur! And top for IFSHA at 2nd Level in their Horse of the year.  My 5 year old mare Tessa Welmoed also finished as Reserve Champion at FHANA all breeds in AA training level with a median score of over 68%!  And in IFSHA Horse of the year, she was also reserve Champion of Training level AND First Level, as a 5 year old AND I have been her only "trainer"!  Click here to see a photo album documenting most of  my 2011 results with Hindrik and Tessa.

I never competed in a real dressage competition EVER, until 2009!  Then when I ran out of money, I took Hindrik home at the end of 2009 and began to train him myself. 
 

 Don't think you can't do this yourself....    I couldn't even ride Hindrik in January 2009!  I couldn't canter him on one 20 meter circle.  Sitting the trot was an impossible dream.  Now I have him at home and am training him MYSELF with a little DVD help from Jane Savoie!  Jane's Happy horse course saves me from spending $1,400 a month on board + training for each horse I own!  I am now able to train my own horses and I am successful at it!  Hindrik and I placed 3rd in region 6 championships this year!  Every year we get more successful, even though I have never ridden dressage before, and am starting each year at a new level that I have never ridden ever before!  Right now I am teaching Hindrik flying changes in preparation for 3rd level, and I have never even done them myself before. And he's learning them really quickly!
Keep in mind, Jane has chosen the Friesian breed, and she has taken her Friesian all the way to Grand Prix.  So everything in her course pertains to Friesians, she is a Friesian expert!
 

Are you Afraid When you Ride ?
 Another awesome course that Jane offers is called Freedom from Fear.  Have you had a traumatic experience with a horse that prevents you from enjoying riding 100%, because of fear???  If you click the link below, you can sign up with your email and immediately watch some helpful free videos.  If you like the videos, the DVD set is less than $200!  Simply go to the link to find out more!

 

Jane Savoie's Friesian Moshi

Are you curious about the bloodlines of "Moshi", Jane Savoie's Grand Prix Friesian?
 His real name is Menno fan 't Mar and he is out of Stam 27, a line known for their desire to work ("Werklust"). Moshi's sire is Jurjen 303, same as my Hindrik's damsire!!! Moshi's damsire is Falke 291. I have an article on Stam 27 on my website if  you click here.   Stam 27 is the line from which Rypke 321 and Jasper 366 come from.

Jane Savoie with Hindrik and I

The Farrier
Click here to see a photo of how the Friesian foot should look
The length and angle are what you should pay attention to.  You can print this and show it to your farrier if he is not farmiliar with Friesians.
 

About Keurings

Above Photo shows last year's Eugene OR  keuring winners, Grand Champion Mare, Welmoed

Grand Champion Gelding, Gooitzen, both owned by Legacy Friesians at the time, now Welmoed is owned by Elsa and Monique of Bremerton, WA and Gooitzen is owned by Sharlene, of Texas.

So you are a new Friesian owner and you know nothing about keurings.  Don't be worried, they are no big deal.  A keuring is simply a judging, where the horse is judged on conformation and movement.  The most important thing you need to know as an owner, is that you can HIRE a Dutch runner to show your horse for you.  Even if you are a track star, you should still hire a Dutch runner to show your horse at his best.  There is a lot to it besides just being a fast runner and frankly if you don't know exactly what you are doing,  it's dangerous.  I have watched professional runners wipe out in Holland.  It happens.... and you can get hurt.

So as an owner, your main duty before a keuring is to make sure your horse is in good shape, not fat, not thin, but very well-muscled.    If you are showing a 3 year old for Studbook entry, make sure they are fully shod because the Dutch judges won't like it if they only have front shoes on!   You can trim the whiskers, the hair on the chin, and the longer hairs on the back of the legs up to the feathers (don't touch the feathers or mane!).  You as a handler (you still will have to hand your horse over to the Dutch runner) should dress in all white if possible  (it is a sign of respect to the judges) and your horse should wear a white bridle, as can be found on ebay, and other stores.

In Holland the keuring circuit occurs during the summer.  In the USA, the Dutch judges come over here in September to travel around the country and judge all the keurings.  The exact schedule in the USA is never announced until August or so.   In Holland, they usually keep foals with the mother until the keuring and then separate them after the keuring if the foals are old enough to be weaned.  The foals should run alongside their mothers during the foal keuring and the Dutch judges don't like it when they see a foal alone without it's mother.  But it is possible to enter a foal without it's mother, just don't be surprised if you hear some criticism.

If you buy a young Friesian, and the papers say Veulenbook (under FPS register) or you see Vb. after the name, that means the horse has not been to their adult keuring yet, so you can take them to one if you want to...  (Except if f they say Vb. Ster, then they have been to a keuring and received the rank of Star, so you have a Star Stallion.)  Usually owners will present their Friesian at a keuring for admission to the "studbook" "marebook" or "ruinbook" (geldingbook) at age 3 or 4, but sometimes farmers in the Netherlands won't bother to do so.   It may be smarter for you to wait until they are 4 or older to bring them to ensure they are fully mature!!!  For entry into the studbook, marebook, or ruinbook, all you can do is make sure your horse is in good physical shape like a well trained athlete before a track meet.   The judges like to see your adult  horse shod on all 4 feet for the keuring, so go ahead and have that done, even if it is only for the keuring.  After you have prepared your horse the best you could, when your number is called, you will hand your horse over to a runner, and then it is just up to the Judges.  After all the horses in your class go, they will call numbers out again, and you are supposed to go back in and walk your horses around the ring, in order.  If you are called first, be happy, it means that you are currently in first place.  But keep them walking in good form because they are still judging and they will make adjustments! The judges like to see a lot of "SPACE" in the walk... translated this means they like to see your horse take large steps, so you have to enable this as the person leading the horse.  They may tell you to switch order and then you will have been moved up or down.  At the very end you are lined up from first to last.  Don't be surprised if your horse gets some criticism.  You have to have thick skin at these keurings.   Maybe your horse is better suited to dressage, and that is not what the judges are looking for in movement.  If you horse doesn't make star, you can always try them again another year. 
 

This above article was written by Legacy Friesian owner, Sue Zoltner.

Click here to see our article on the Stallion Keuring in Holland, which was published in "the Friesian" magazine (FHANA's publication), written by Sue Zoltner
 
 

Riding Friesians
Friesians are big movers.  If you are used to riding a German Warmblood, you will probably think riding a Friesian is easy and be surprised at how sweet and gentle and sane they are.  However if you are used to riding a Quarter Horse, riding a Friesian will be significantly more difficult.  I have found that most Friesian mares have a smoother trot, easier to sit, than geldings.  You may want to factor that into your buying decision.  If you want to be able to easily sit the trot, you will need to look for a Friesian that is specifically advertised as such.  The #1 problem that people seem to run into when they buy a Friesian, is that they are not ready for the tremendous movement that a Friesian has in the trot.  The trot will sometimes knock the rider out of balance, then the rider will pull back on the Friesian's mouth to regain their balance.  Pulling hard on their mouth and gripping them with your knees can really scare the Friesian, and the flight instinct can then take over, making matters worse.  If you find yourself losing your balance when trotting, try grabbing a handful of mane before you ask for the trot!!!   Friesians in Holland are generally not ridden by people who pull back on their mouths with no release, as in Europe the inside rein is used lightly, releasing when you get the response you want.  Our advice to any new Friesian owner,  is that you work with a trainer and don't try to trot until you are ready.  Have fun walking and at first try trotting for 8 steps, walking for 8 steps until you are ready and used to your Friesian's movement.  Seek professional help to improve your riding, the breed is worth it!  If possible, work with a trainer that has a proven track record with Friesians! 
Also, it is REALLY REALLY important to praise your Friesian a lot when you are riding him.  They love praise and feedback and when they do something good, talk to them and pet them with your inside hand!!!  Teach them voice commands for whoa, walk, trot, canter on the lunge line and use your voice to help them understand what you mean.

This above article was written by Legacy Friesian owner, Sue Zoltner.
 

Cantering Friesians
Would you like to start training your young  Friesian to canter in a balanced way?  Check out this article- I think it's very useful and this is how I start mine to canter.
 
 

Friesians as Dressage Prospects
by Sylvia Lindstrom

The Friesian dressage horses have improved dramatically in their quality for the upper levels during the last 20 years. 

I have been working with German dressage horses and had a stable, where we kept about 30 horses, partly sales-horses, partly breeding. (We had stallions too). Those where Hanoverian horses. I started my Friesian-"passion" about 20 years ago, when I bought my first Friesian stallion as a hobby besides my job with the dressage horses. Ever since that first experience with the Friesian breed I lost more and more interest in the Hanoverian sport-horses , which seem so impersonal, almost boring and dull in comparison with a Friesian. A Friesian is more intelligent and much more gentle than a Warmblood. The Friesian  horse really seems to think only the best of us human beings, one almost can feel ashamed! I have never understood why not more really good dressage-riders switch their interest to the Friesians. I think the reason for why the majority of the good dressage-trainers keep on training German, Dutch or Swedish Warmbloods is that there is more money in this business. A good educated Friesian for the higher levels you may be get for about $100,000 dollar, a comparable Warmblood costs a lot of more.

Today, there are quite a lot of Friesians who have a really good "motor"- that means activity of the back.  A horse, which breed however, who is only bearing weight on the hock will not last very long. It is all the three joints , which we in German call "Hanken" (I think you say haunches?= that means hip, stifle, and hock) that have to bear the more advanced dressage horse in order to let him be able to dance! The Friesians often have easier for the collected gaits (piaffe, passage) than a warmblood. You see many Warmbloods on the competitions which do those gaits bravely but without expression, more mechanically. Here the Friesian (who has a little bit of Andalusian blood from the time of Spanish occupation of Holland) has often much more expression. There still is a prejudice against the Friesian that says that the Friesian cannot show the extended gaits. But that is not true, there are quite a lot of Friesians with really good extended trot etc.  In former times , when the Friesians where bred more for the carriage, they often had a lack in the canter. Some of the horses still don't have a canter suitable for the upper levels. But there are other Friesians who canter really good ( I am always looking after such horses) and who learn the flying changes easily.

A Friesian is more sensitive and not so tough in his soul as a warmblood. You may not punish a Friesian very much while educating him. He needs lots of reward, otherwise you will destroy him, and many of the harder methods to train dressage horses don't work on a Friesian.  Never whip up a Friesian!!!! 

You also have to be more patient with the Friesian to get him in a good condition. Many Friesians who are young and quite untrained come into a harder, quicker breathing after working, so you have to build up the strength and endurance over a longer period. You have to be careful with too much canter work in the beginning and while the horse is still growing. It is never a good experience for a young horse if you take out of him all his power, make him too tired and demand too much. He will lose his self-confidence and courage and the joy of working will be gone.

How to Choose and Train Friesians for Dressage

click here for an article on Friesians that was in Dressage Today, by Sabine Schut-Kery
 
 

About Friesian Mane Care

If your goal is to preserve your horse's mane and tail, the last thing you want to do is grab a comb and get down to business because the comb or brush will inevitably rip out a good deal of hair. DO NOT BRUSH THE MANE EVERY DAY WITH A COMB OR BRUSH.  Some hair loss is expected during grooming sessions, but if we rip out good hair along with the dead soon the horse's mane and tail will be thinned out drastically. Considering the hair growth for both locations is limited to a couple inches a year, it can take a long time to re-grow a devastated mane or tail. 

To preserve hair loss caused by combing and tangles, start by running a dose of conditioner and/or tangle-remover through the mane with your fingers. This should loosen tangles and make the hair slicker, thereby allowing you to undo the tangles easily by hand. Some owners will just pull out the scissors and snip away tight tangles and knots, but I haven't seen a knot yet that couldn't be removed with some conditioner and patience. 

Do not pull out your comb until you can run your fingers throughout the mane without detecting any tangles; let your fingers perform most of the "grunt" work since they will be more gentle than a comb. Sometimes after the finger combing, I'll use a hoof pick to separate hair.  When it is time for the comb to be implemented, support the base of the horse's mane with one hand while you comb with the other. What you're trying to do is prevent downward tugging that may tear some hair from its roots. If you detect any missed tangles with your comb discontinue for a moment, untangle with your fingers, then proceed with the comb once more. 

With Friesians, it is better to not brush the mane at all unless you first wash the mane with shampoo/conditioner and then spraying the wet mane with Vetrolin Shine.  Braiding the mane at this point with straight braids every 4-5 inches down the neck, that are not too tight, is a good idea.   Do not use cowboy magic as this can make the horse’s hair brittle in dry climates.  We recommend using a product called Vetrolin Shine to condition the mane and tail after washing it.  It also has sunscreen and some fly repellency.  You can buy it at Valleyvet.com or your local farm store.


 

Braiding
I have become very good at doing the running bread along their necks- and if I can do it, anyone can! 
Make sure you get a mounting block first - you want to be high up so you can get the braid to rest high on the crest.
Start with 3 sections up near the ears, the highest section being the closest to the ears.
1) Cross the lowest section over, towards the ears so it becomes the new middle section. 
2) Now cross the highest section over so it is now the new middle section .  Tighten!
3) Now add a new section of hair to the lowest section and cross that over to the middle.  In this step it's important to keep biasing the braid towards the top of the crest - you don't want to get lower and lower on the neck. When you add the new hair, this is your opportunity to keep the braid on the crest!!!! 
Repeat step 2
 

Scratches
For Scratches, we recommend  Eqyss Microtek Equine Shampoo or Equine Spray OR MTG.  You have to be VIGILANT about getting the scabs off.  Check the skin folds/ wrinkles around their fetlocks- these are a haven for the mites that cause scratches....
LATELY, I have been using  Petroleum Jelly to saturate the area and soften the scabs - you can buy it at the dollar store.  Then I put MTG on the area as well.  So far I think that works the best for my horses.  Be careful with MTG- some horses are allergic or oversensitive to it.  I can use it on the manes of Tessa Welmoed and Tessa PJ, but NOT on Hindrik's mane.  He is over -sensitive to it and starts to flake and itch.   But I can use it on Hindrik's scratches successfully.   One person called me once and she said the day after she used MTG on her horses mane, he rubbed it completely out!  So just be very careful anytime you use it to do a test first to see if you horse will tolerate it!!!

You can buy it at Valleyvet.com or your local farm store

Runny Eyes

Does your Friesian have a "goopy eye" ?   In Holland they actually use tea to treat runny eyes.  They say: "Make a cup of regular tea, let it cool to room temperature, and using a clean cloth carefully wash the eye as best as possible with the tea.  Do this once a day for 2-3 days and they say it will be gone."  I did try this on my yearling and it seemed to work after only one treatment.  This is not vet-certified, use at your own risk.
 
 
 
 

About Owning A Friesian

taken from legacy Stable archived website


So,
 
 
 

 A guide to the "Care and Feeding of Friesians"
Written/compiled by Leeandra Wesley of Legacy Stable

anything with a *added by Sue Zoltner of legacy friesians

I have people interested in getting their first friesian talk to me all the time. Many come out and see our wonderful horses and fall in love. Some come out interested in our current foals/in-uteros for sale, and I've sold mostly to first time friesian owners. My conversations with them are not light. Friesians are not for the weak of heart, and AFTER I've told them all the problems and specifics with friesian care and they're still standing there not scared out of their minds, THEN I will sell them a horse! LOL! 

I will preface my suggestions here for a "Care of Friesians manual" with IT WILL NOT APPLY TO EVERY SITUATION. Some people will read what I write and say "My friesian doesn't have that problem...." I am writing what the breed in general is prone to. Some people, as with all breeds of horses, get lucky. Some buy horses and never, ever, ever have a problem with them even though they're kept in barbed wire fence, fed tons of grain a day by throwing it down in the sand, don't feed hay etc. They throw their mare in a pasture with their backyard stud colt and 11 months later they come out and find a foal standing next to the mare. I'm not talking about anyone in particular, just giving you the idea of what I mean. You get the picture. Some people who either are completely uneducated or uninterested just get lucky. Then there are people like us--people who put the care of their horses generally above themselves, do exhaustive research, do everything possible to make sure their horses have the best of everything, proper care, proper nutrition, proper training, proper tack, proper turnout, and still our horses tend to be taken from us way too early and for unimaginable reasons that are rarely any fault of our own. It seems terribly unfair. But, to that end, if I can help anyone else out there enjoy their friesian for one more day than they would have otherwise, I'm all for writing it down. 
Were someone to be given a manual with a friesian, this is what I would want it to say:
 

Health Problems to look out for: 
Hooves 
Legs 
Weak/Locking Stifles 
Anhidrosis 
Genetic faults 
Colic 
Skin Maladies/Scratches
Mites 
Scratches/Mud Fever/Dew Poisoning 
Chronic Progressive Lymphedema
* Lymphangitis aka Lymphangectasia or Lymphedema
Worming 
Teeth/Dentistry 
Sensitivity to Sedatives 
Complications with General Anesthesia
Reproductive Issues
Motility 
Retained Placentas 
Difficulty Getting Mares in Foal 
Mares not carrying to Term 
Dystocias 
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis
Temperament
Pushiness 
Food Motivation 
FFA ("Full Friesian Alert") 
One-Person Horses 
Stoic with Pain
General Care
Blanketing 
Turnout 
Companionship 
Feeding/Diet
Supplementing for Coat Enhancement
Mane and Tail Care
Training Issues
Lack of Endurance 
Tack 
Stifle Conditioning
In-Hand 
Under Saddle
Lumbar Strengthening
 

Health problems to look out for: 

Hooves: Friesians have great, hard feet. They are normally best kept barefoot unless medically necessary to shoe. Some people's terrain and use (i.e. constant unusually rocky turnout/riding, trail use, driving often on hard roads) will mean shoes are necessary. Overall, most can be kept barefoot easily. The Dutch like to see a higher heel, and the horse in general tends to naturally grow a higher heel. I've found a horse has better dressage movement when trimming more "traditionally". By trimming with the higher heel, you get more carriage-driving like movement . (There was just discussion on the lists about this and what judges like to see trim-wise for the keurings, with the higher heel etc). In addition, friesians try to grow a higher heel, and you need to let them exist in a higher heel than most other breeds. There's a happy medium between the heel angles needed---too upright with too tall of a heel makes for very jarring movement in a friesian and percussive damage on their legs, taking too much heel off makes them appear underslung and has been confirmed on x-rays to start reverse rotation of the coffin bone angle, plus it also puts tension on the deep digital flexor tendon. Having had the need to trim according to x-rays, I've had the unique ability to see the various style trims on friesian feet and their direct impact on the coffin bone orientation and movement, sometimes x-raying and lunging before and after trims. Overall advice: keep barefoot if your sport and turnout/riding allow. If only used occassionally for "harder" surface/impact uses, consider hoof boots for those times. Find a farrier who has worked on light drafts before--don't let one allow the various flares etc that friesian feet get too out of control and "trim like a draft". At the same time, I've had farriers that have trimmed the hoof capsule too small and "trimmed them like a pony". Also be aware of the pointy hooves that adolescent friesians get on their hind hooves. You can round them out cautiously, but they SHOULD mature out of it around 4-5 years old. 

Legs: Before (or directly after) purchasing your friesian, get baseline leg and hoof x-rays of anything 1 year and older. (less than one year is arguable, but if you're not suspcious of anything, I personally don't see a need). Try to x-ray at least hooves/lower legs annually. Friesians are prone to extensor process fractures and lower leg bone chips in general, due to their size and generally high-kneed, high impact movement. It's best to monitor your horse's front legs for any coffin bone changes/chips and hocks/stifles for OCD, especially in younger horses. ALWAYS get x-rays before you buy. ALWAYS. If a seller does not allow you to do so, WALK AWAY. Friesians are hard on their legs and hooves due to their movement, so if you are buying a middle aged or older friesian, you are more likely to find a chronic problem that will not show up in a standard vet exam and will need to be addressed later to maintain their soundness. 

Weak/Locking Stifles: Some lines are known to pass on weak/locking stifles. Leffert is known for this, though we personally have a Heinse daughter in the barn that has a terrible locking stifle. Targeted exercise, detailed later on this page, to strengthen the area and keeping excess weight off the horse is best treatment for this. For breeders, if your mare has a weak stifle, be aware for pregnancy purposes and also in choosing a suitable stallion--you need one that has a track record of specifically improving the hind end and stifle. See above regarding x-rays for monitoring stifle degredation and looking out for early signs of OCD etc. 

Anhidrosis: Friesians are big and black. It's no secret they can be very heat intolerant. Some individuals can stand in the middle of a desert all day long and not care, but as a whole, heat intolerance is a problem. Anhidrosis (non-sweaters) do not have the ability to sweat so they can't release heat from their bodies and are at serious risk for heat stroke. For these horses, keep out of the sun during the day. We keep our horses in the barn during the heat of the day, under temperature controlled box fans, and the one anhidrosis friesian we have has a mister set up in her stall to cool her off in extreme temperatures---we just poked pinholes in a regular hose, hung around the top of her stall and it works great!. One A.C. is known to help with anhidrosis, along with cautious exercise--USUALLY the fitter the horse the better they deal with it, but you have to be careful to not overheat the horse in the exercise! If stalling is unavailable, make sure the horse can get to a protected shaded area during the heat of the day. Monitor temps during hot weather and cold hose if resting temp is over 102. (already knowing the baseline temp for your horse is helpful here). Flysheets that are white and reflective of sunlight but not heavy or clingy fabric help during turnout as well. Anhidrosis is common in young friesians in their "teenage" years, and many of them develop it at 2-3 years old and "grow out of it" around 5-6 years old. 

Genetic faults in Friesians: 
Waterhead/ crown head foals (hydrocephalus) is the accumulation of fluid in the brain, resulting in damage to brain cells. This problem can cause damage to the mare during foaling and possible death, as the size of the head can make it so the foal cannot pass through the birth canal 
Dwarfism 
Mesocolic Rente (hole in the mesocolon of a horse that opens up and allows waste from the intestines into the horse's body)

Colic: Friesians anecdotally are more prone to gas, impaction, and tortion colic, stomach rupture, and Mesocolic Rente colic (when the horse colics and the intestines twist and go through the hole in the mesentary, get stuck, and the tissue dies.) Article here: (this horse did fine, but many colics are due to this genetic fault where there is a hole in the intestines--many are categorized as "tortion colic" but are actually this problem). Additionally (again, anecdotal evidence) I have had several vets comment that there is a general belief in the vet world that friesians have less dorsal body wall attachments than other breeds, making them more prone to tortion colic. This information comes from surgeons who have performed colic surgeries on friesians. Specified feeding, turnout management and worming can help prevent colic incidence in friesians. 

Scratches/skin maladies of the feathers: Friesians, due to their feathering, are prone to getting mites, bacteria, Chorioptic mange, and infections in their feathers. Good grooming, drying feathers and/or trying to limit turnout in constantly marshy and wet conditions is best. Mites/mite infections, known to the Dutch as "mok" can be treated with topical or injectible treatments. 

Several possible treatments, depending on the cause are: 
Mites:
One common treatment is to use Frontline spray on the horse's legs to kill the mites. Although Frontline is a product approved only for ticks and fleas on cats and dogs, it is effective in treating these mites. Lyme sulphur dip is effective in killing the mites as well. Many vets will mix ivermectin in with an antibiotic paste and apply this to the affected areas. The most important point is to clip the hair, kill the mites, and treat with a topical antibiotic and anti-inflammatory ointment. Some horses with deep secondary infections will also require oral antibiotics. SEBACIL is another COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) product known to effectively treat the mites. Dectomex, Doramectine (not Ivermectine) injectable is also used in Holland to treat the most stubborn of mite infections. The dosage is 1cc per 100 pounds (for Friesians usually about 12cc) in the hindquarters muscle. As always, CONSULT YOUR VET for diagnosis and treatment before trying any of this. The chorioptic mites can be identified by scraping skin and looking under a microscope for identification. They can live for a long time off the host body of the horse, can live in stalls, and can "jump" from horse to horse, even being carried on horses that are non-symptomatic. There is a commonly known "mok recipe" that friesian owners use as well: 

Mok Recipe
1/2 jar Nitrofuazone...use this jar to mix everything in 
Add 1 tube Desitin...microwave the furazone and desitin in the jar just enough to turn to liquid so that it mixes easily 
Then add 40 mg Dexamethasone 
10 ml Gentamycin 
and 10 ml DMSO (90% liquid) 
Stir and let cool, it will return to a pasty compound that is easy to smear on the "mok" 

*BE SURE TO WEAR GLOVES WHEN APPLYING...THE DMSO IS WHAT ALLOWS THE MEDICINE TO PENITRATE THE SKIN AND IT WILL PENITRATE YOUR SKIN ALSO! 

You will need to get some of the ingredients from your vet or have your vet mix up this "recipe" 

Scratches/"Mud Fever"/"Dew Poisoning":
For this, a topical antifungal/antibacterial wash is best. While washing/moisture is the enemy with mok, it can be helpful with scratches. Washing/hosing the feathers, scrubbing with antibacterial soap, picking off any loose "scabs", drying as thoroughly as possible and then treating with a topical antifungal/antibacterial agent is the best course of action. Treatment with products such as Shapley's M-T-G is one of the best treatments. Keeping your horse out of the morning dew/wet marsh areas is also helpful in getting this condition cleared up quicker. 

* Editor's note- I like using petroleum jelly all over the area (you need a lot), and then use Shapley's M-T-G.  This saves you a lot of money because you can use up a lot of cheap petroleum jelly and then a much smaller amt of M-T-G is required.  The vaseline will soften the area and allow the scabs to fall off so the M-T-G can get to the fungus.

Chronic Progressive Lymphedema: 
This is a very serious condition, and one not commonly found in friesians specifically, but something that "very bad scratches" can be misdiagnosed as. If your friesian has/develops large nodules around their pasterns, talk to your vet about getting a biopsy done to check for this disease. At this time, there is no cure, but research is ongoing. Recently it has been linked to being a genetic problem, so it is something that should be looked into and reported when a friesian turns up with this condition. 
Some helpful links regarding the above condition, with pictures and more information:
http://www.completerider.com/pasterndermatitis.htm 
http://www.harlequinfarmsgypsyhorses.com/ChronicProgressiveLymphedema.html 
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/elephantitis/about.html
 
 

* Lymphangitis aka Lymphangectasia or Lymphedema
Associated with inflammation of the lymphatics of the hind legs and ventral abdomen. It can be caused by bacteria (usually with fever) or be non-infectious (no fever). In both cases there is stiffness, lameness, pain, heat.  It is typically treated with antibiotics, diuretics, antiinflammatories (usually a steroid), and hydrotherapy.  It is typically a chronic condition and will occur repeatedly over an animal's lifetime. Late term pregnancy may exacerbate the condition because of pressure of the fetus on the lymphatics in the abdominal wall. One must be careful not to use steroids to treat in later pregnancy or the mare may abort from the steroids. 
High fevers of short duration can certainly result in early embryonic death, however later in pregnancy it takes a longer duration to severely impact the fetus (i.e. after 3 - 5 months gestation and the placenta has started to form). 
We at Legacy Friesians have a mare that gets an outbreak every year.  She can get  105 fever! Very scary.  With Banamine, the fever goes down, and then Sulfamethoxazole antibiotics are started.. As far as anti-inflammatory, Naquasome is one we have used (you have to get it compounded now) - which is a diuretic and steroid combination - its safe during non- pregnancy OR Banamine or ketofen if the mare is pregnant, especially in late pregnancy, when steroids may induce abortion. 
 

Worming: Not much friesian-specific here, just good horse practice. There are many ideas on horse care regarding daily wormers vs paste wormers. Consult your vet for the best worming practice and realize that friesians do weigh more than most horses than the paste tubes are made for, so you may need to use more that one tube. Using this equation will help to estimate your horse's weight better than a weight tape (realize that this does NOT take into account bone density, so if you have a particularly baroque friesian, you will want to add on a couple hundred pounds to account for the bone density: 
1. Measure the circumference (heart girth) of the animal (distance C).
2. Measure the length of body (distance A-B, point of hip to point of chest).
3. Take the values obtained in Steps 1 and 2 and apply the following formula to calculate body weight: Heart girth x heart girth x length divided by 300 + 50 lb. = weight. 

This formula is accurate to +/- 3%. 

Also, Panacur Power Paks/Safe-Guard (Fenbendazole) 10x wormings in the winter and spring are highly suggested to remove any encysted small strongyles in the gut. Be aware if you just buy the Panacur Power Pak, there's a good chance it will NOT be enough wormer for a heavier friesian, so you will likely want to go with buying a large tube of Safe-Guard instead and measuring it out dose by dose. As friesians are prone to colic, making sure your worming program is as effective as possible will ward off any blockages due to worm loads. Additionally, make sure your worming program contains praziquantel to eliminate tapeworms. Brand names like Quest Plus, Zimectrin Gold, or a double worming of Strongid paste is effective in killing tapeworms. Consult your vet for the best times of the year to worm for particular worms in your area. 

Teeth/Dentistry: Again, not much friesian-specific here, just good horse practice. Teeth should be checked at 2-3 years old and monitored every 6 months until they are about 6 years of age. Wolf teeth will come in during that time and often warrant removal, as they tend to interfere with the action of the bit. As a friesian reaches 6 years old, you can reduce to annual checkups. After they are in their late teens, they should be checked every 6 months again. 

Some people believe in power tools only, some people believe in hand-floats only. Some people believe only vets should float their horse's teeth, some feel only specialized dentists should. Personally, we have a wonderful vet that comes onsite and sedates any horses necessary for our dentist to hand-float. Some of the horses with specialized teeth issues (parrot mouth, "wave mouth", diagonal wear due to chiropractic issues etc) go to a vet clinic for a different dentist to work on with power tools and very high level sedation and monitoring from the vet. So, we combine all of the above :-) The one steady piece of advice I will give here pertains to both and is a completely seperate issue (see below): 

Friesians are resistant/sensitive to anesthesia/sedatives! Many friesians require many more shots of sedative to get them truly "maleable" for the dentist (or any difficult procedure that requires sedation, i.e. gelding). If they are in pain/scared/uncomfortable and require sedation from the vet, do not be surprised if the vet has to give several shots. Start with the standard dose--NEVER ASSUME your friesian will be one that "needs more" and just start out with that!!! With the standard sedative dose, however your friesian will seem quite "out of it" until you actually go to do something. Then they will WAKE UP! and tell you that they are still quite aware of the situation and are not happy. For some of the hand floats, our vet has carefully metered out 3 sedation shots, taking breaks and going slow, over the course of the float. While not under stress and resting, they seem so out of it they can barely stand. While under stress, they're quite capable of taking you and the rest of the medical team out of the picture. Some friesians have the exact OPPOSITE problem as above and require the SMALLEST amount of sedative possible, sometimes up to 1/4 the standard dose. Advise your vet to proceed with caution when sedating your friesian for the first time! 

Post recovery in a stall with water, no hay, no access to food is important to ward off any possibility of choke as they regain their awareness and muscle/esophogeal control. 

General Anesthesia/Full/Dorsal Recumbancy: Friesians put under anesthetic can have neurological problems after recovery, often resulting in fatal complications. The condition is called Hemorrhagic myelomalacia. Friesians have historically had problems with recovery from general anesthesia, especially when needing surgery requiring full/dorsal recumbancy. The general concensis is to try for partial recumbancy if possible during a surgery, and move the horse around as well during dorsal recumbancy to avoid a "soft spot" forming in the spinal cord that will result in post-anaesthetic myelomalacia and require the horse to be euthanized. The heavier (pregnant, baroque) horse will be at a greater risk of this due to their weight. While more common in draft horses, friesian horses are seceptible to the complication as well. Some articles with more information to read are here: 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7905814&dopt=Abstract 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=15900899
Reproductive issues: 

Again, this will not apply to all mares/stallions etc. Overall, friesians have a very high incidence of breeding complications, dystocias, and foaling/post foaling complications. Quick points to know about friesians: 

Motility: Stallions do not always have the best motility and/or keep the best motility as they age in relation to other breeds. Some remain wonderfully fertile throughout their lives, but many have marked decreased motility as they age. Frozen semen is a hit-or-miss due to this--some mares catch fine, but overall freezing already decreased motility semen in older stallions does not give an owner the greatest chances of getting their mare bred. Some questions to ask stallion owners are their stallion's motility count, and, specifically when looking to purchase frozen semen, ask when it was collected. As is routine with most vets, have them do post-shipping motility counts during breeding. 

Retained Placentas: Friesian mares have an EXTREMELY high incidence of retained placentas. We thought it was normal when we were foaling out, we were so used to it! Studies have shown that most mares of other breeds will only retain their placentas 2-10% of the time, versus 54% in friesians. Studies have linked inbreeding to the problem. http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/full/82/4/982   and http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/abstract/82/4/982 . Retained placentas are causative of toxicity, laminitis, and colic (problems in the gut in general from the toxicity of the RP), along with all of the post-foaling reproductive issues that come with manual removal of a retained placenta if deemed necessary (though this study shows that there are no differences, FYI). They do acknowledge the high incidence of RP in friesians, though, and were easily able to use them for their study! 

Difficulty getting mares in foal: This is more anecdotal evidence gathered from various sources, from friesian breeding facilities (including ourselves), vet schools (New Bolton, Leesburg, VTU Blacksburg), equine thorongologists like Nandi Vet Clinic (Dr Hurtgen et al) etc. Some mares are very fertile and get in foal first time every time (we are lucky enough to have one in our barn) but many others are bred repeatedly, with ideal conditions and take repeated breedings to settle, if they ever do. In addition, friesians are notorious for growing larger follicles than most other breeds, making it difficult to get the timing correct for AI. They tend to not ovulate until 40-50mm versus many other breeds that ovulate in the 30s. It causes many inexperienced vets and owners to ship/breed more often than necessary and friesian mares typically can hold onto their follicles through an HCG shot when others would have given up and ovulated already. There's a great article on Iron Spring Farm's site talking about this very topic. Add that to the (typically) already decreased motility of many stallions and you have a very hard to reproduce animal. 

Not carrying to term: Again, anecdotal evidence from the previously mentioned sources. You have to watch friesian mares in foal like hawks. Placentitis, general bacterial infections, mares colicking, hormone irregularity etc tend to take out the foals that were successfully conceived. Maintenance ultrasounds often (monthly!) to measure fetus size, placental thickness and regularity are often needed to head off any problems. Regumate and TMZ is an oft-used protocol to keep mares healthy and hormonally regulated to carry to term and add dramatically to the cost of breeding a friesian. 

Dystocias: Again, anecdotal evidence from the previously mentioned sources. Friesians seem to tend to have more dystocias than other breeds. They can range from minor (one leg hooked back etc) to the worst possible nightmare (we had that--foal presented with all 4 feet and no head--had to do a C section to remove, and then she retained her placenta for FOUR days!). Be vigilant on your marewatch and know to CHECK THE FOAL'S POSITION as soon as the mare is in Stage 3 labor. 

Neonatal Isoerythrolysis: Due to the limited gene pool that friesians have, the incidence of this is higher than in most breeds. It can be prevented by bloodtesting your mare prior to breeding to a desired stallion and comparing the blood types. If not discovered within the first 8-48 hours, the foal will likely die from injesting the colostrum of the mare that contains the antibodies to fight the foal's bloodtype. A good article to read on prevention is here, and a more detailed article is here. An article specific to Friesians and NI has just been published by Laurie Kasperek here as well!

Temperament: 

Temperaments are highly individual. In this case I will give sweeping generalizations about the breed. 

Pushiness: While adults are considered very friendly and usually docile (moreso than many other breeds of horse) young friesians can be overly pushy, to the point of being dangerous to an inexperienced handler. They are very friendly, but do not respect/have to be taught the idea of personal space. If left to their own devices, many young friesians will run over their handlers, push them over, drag them to food (they are very food motivated horses) and/or will choose to jump in the lap of/hide behind their person during stress. If not corrected, this can result in a very obnoxious and occassionally dangerous adult animal. They generally do not understand their own size and think they are large black labradors that can mug you, walk over you, sit in your lap and otherwise roughouse/ignore the space requirements of a handler. Teaching them personal space between the ages of 6 months-3 years is extremely important and will ensure a life of a well adjusted, well behaved, enjoyable and safe companion and friend. 
 

Food Motivation: While it is considered "cute" by some, and harnessed by some trainers, food motivation can lead to behavioral quirks and problems. Friesians love their food, which means they will drag their handler in their stalls, get very pushy at feeding time in the open, and be generally rude about food. We teach our young friesians when coming into their stalls for feeding time to: 
Wait and STAND AWAY from the pasture gate. 
Stand quiet for the halter 
Walk in quiet, side by side to their handler, no pulling 
Stop and wait at their stall door 
Stand quiet for unhaltering before allowed to turn to their feed pans and eat
In stalls, friesians can be very aggressive about eating, destroying their feed buckets, pawing the wall, climbing on the feed buckets/up the wall while waiting for the grain to be put in their buckets etc. It takes time and training with young friesians to have them stand quiet, not rush their handler when opening the stall door with feed, stay at a respectful distance and not crowd you when trying to put the feed in their buckets. In addition, young friesians can hurt themselves on the bucket/feed pan hardware. Be aware of sharp edges, unstable mounting of the bucket/pan etc. We put baling twine "fuses" on the plastic corner feed buckets we use and hang them. That way, if a horse gets too agressive nosing/pawing the bucket and gets stuck, the baling twine will break before the hardware/snaps/horse do! If all else fails, when we have a horse repeatedly breaking buckets, we use a rubber ground pan for feeding.

When going into a field with food, use great caution and teach your friesian to STAND BACK when you have food and not crowd you. Teach them to stand away from you for treats (not on top of you, mugging your pockets/hands/pushing you over/etc) and WAIT at a reasonable distance for their dinners if being fed in a field. 
 

FFA: Affectionately known as "Full Friesian Alert", this is when a friesian spies something interesting/spooky and does a "four on the floor" jump and leg plant, head craned high, ears perked, totally tense and stares at something. Most friesians just stand, stare, and snort. Some dance away, and a rare group of others bolt right after. While the bolting is not as common in a friesian and most are docile enough to just stare down and snort at what scares them and listen to the reassurance of their handler, it is a distinct possibility and the rider/handler should be prepared for this. 

One-Person Horses: Friesians are not typically great for lesson horses. They will often do as asked very willingly, but will normally only perform best for "their person". They usually bond deeply with their owner, look for them ( i.e. watch the driveway, know your car, come when called like crazy), become depressed if they haven't seen them for a while, and have even been known to exhibit jealousy when seeing their "person" handling another horse. 

Stoic with pain: Friesians are typically stoic horses when it comes to pain. It is one of the things that makes diagnosing severe colic in a friesian so difficult and often means that vital time is missed in the beginning stage of a colic episode. They can be stoic to the point of not even having very elevated vitals (BPM, temps etc). Any sign of gut discomfort in a friesian needs to be taken very seriously and a vet should be called/treatment begun immediately and aggressively. Often times the "wait and see if they seem better" attitude means the horse sits there and munches on hay, looking fine but passing nothing while the colic worsens. If your friesian has not passed any manure/very watery but not productive manure for 24 hours, BE AGGRESSIVE in treatment and get to a hospital if you can. Friesians typically do not show their true pain levels until much further into a surgical colic than "normal" horses. The same is true for heat/swelling in the coronary band and any suspected laminitic issue. Get X-rays immediately to confirm coffin bone orientation when there is heat in the coronary band and bilateral (multi-hoof) sensitivity noted. 
 

General Care: 

Blanketing: Friesians are typically hardy horses that do not require blanketing to be kept in colder climates. Unless you have a need to keep your friesian trace-clipped/performance clipped for show, the most blanketing typically needed is a sheet for cold/freezing rain and/or VERY low wind chill. Of course, this varies climate to climate, but overall frieisians handle cold, wet, and snowy conditions with relative ease. They grow very fuzzy winter coats and fluff them up against the cold, leaving their underfluff intact. 

Turnout: This varies climate to climate, but generally friesians (and any horse really) do best with the most turnout possible in the largest rock/sand-free area as possible. They do need access to shade in warm temperatures, and should have access to shelter for rain/sleet/snow/wind. Stalling is not necessary, but excessive stalling ( i.e. only 1 hour of turnout, no exercise) can cause behavior/temperament issues in the mildest mannered friesian. Keep your horse's happiness in mind and err on the side of turning out more often than not. Braids and hoods can help keep manes from snagging on things in the pasture (or being pulled on/chewed on by companions) and tails can be braided up to keep them out of the mud and from being stepped on. 

Companionship: As always, individual temperaments may vary, but overall friesians are social animals and seek companionship. Young colts/stallions are best kept socialized with a bachelor herd. Again, personal preferences and individual situations may vary, but overall the stallions do better being out with other stallions or geldings so they can play and socialize. As stallion temperaments go, they are typically more mild mannered than other breeds, but it all has to do with the proper environment, upbringing, and socialization as well as genetics. Fillies typically are happier around other fillies close to their age, and mares make great "babysitters" of the fillies and great disciplinarians of rambunctious youngsters in general. Oft times an alpha mare or an alpha gelding can keep your rambunctious youngster humble (without harm) and respectful. 

Diet: Fiber, fiber fiber! Keep the gut active with roughage, (free choice grass hay if at all possible), soaked beet pulp with no molasses, low sugar/low starch food (i.e. Triple Crown Low Starch), and you do NOT need to over-protein a friesian! Friesians not in heavy training do not NEED more than 10% protein in their overall feed. Friesians under the age of 3 can have a little extra protein (i.e. 2-4% more), but DO NOT overprotein a friesian or you will risk OCD. Stay away from a heavy grain diet, fortify with mostly soaked beet pulp, stabilized rice bran, and/or essential oils (like soybean or cocasoya oil) for overall health. If concerned about essential vitamins and minerals due to a lack of grain, you can balance the ration using a balancer pellet like All-Phase (made by Kentucky Equine Research, also known as Micro-Phase and available worldwide), or Platinum Performance or Omega Horse Shine. 
For coat enhancement: To "keep the black horse black" and a shiny overall coat, you can use various suppliments. Ground flax is best for overall shine and a natural source of omega fatty acids in the diet. Paprika is the main ingredient in "Black-as-Knight" and helps some horses retain their coat color when fed before the sunfade starts ( i.e. early spring). It does contain capsacians, though, and will cause a horse to test positive for them and most be taken out of feeds 2 weeks prior to recognized competition. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are also helpful, but come with a few caveats. Copper deficiency has a lot to do with black horses turning red/orange, especially during time of the year when coat fade is not typical. I've found that feeding the All-Phase balancer pellet, the friesians get the proper copper content without overloading on selenium, which can have serious if not fatal complications. Be aware of the selenium content of your grass before choosing any suppliment. http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/selenium/map1.html is an example of a selenium map.

More on BOSS: (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, for those not familiar with the acronym) Many "friesian people" feed it with great results. Between that and the paprika, a black/dark horse is less likely to fade. The cons are that it is a REALLY high fat, high calorie food, and my friesians are already butterballs as it is. It also is a bit pricey, depending on what grade of seed you get. If you don't get better milled seed, you get bin run sunflowers that often contain sticks, dirt, cocklebur and other debris. In addition, they often contain up to 20% hulls with no sunflower meat. So it's inconsistant and filler if you get the cheap stuff, and expensive to get the better grade sunflower. It does have a lot of the same properties as the All-Phase, to include a high natural copper content, so that's likely why it works so well to fight the fade. It does the same thing as All-Phase and offers many of the same trace mineral content, to include selenium (we're on the border of a low selenium grass content area, so it's ok to feed SOME selenium in the diet--just have to be careful not to overdo it in the total feed content, as horses can suffer from selenium poisoning) and phosphorus. You have to be careful not to feed too much of it and throw off a horse's calcium to phosphoros ratio. Remember you want at LEAST a 1:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Sunflower seeds (and most cereal grains) are VERY high in phosphorus and very low in calcium. What this means is that for every gram of phosphorus ingested in the diet, the body must match that with another gram of calcium before the phosphorus can be absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. If the required calcium is not available from the diet, the body will obtain it from wherever it can---such as from the storage deposits in the bones. So, feeding something so high in phosphorus can be detrimental to a horse's bone health later down the road. While you can balance alot of it out with grass, grass based hays and beet pulp, for those horses who are on rice bran and regular grain (which usually inverts a calcium to phosphorus ratio) it can be just enough to push the ratio under 1:1. You can balance out an inverted calcium to phosphorus ratio by feeding alfalfa (I feed soaked cubes), beet pulp, grass hays, and vegetable oils. 

Mane/Tail Care I've already written a whole step-by-step page on this on this page
Training Issues: 

Lack of Endurance While friesian endurance can be worked on and strengthened (to the point that I have an "energizer bunny friesian" in the barn), overall it is not a strong point of the breed. Judicious conditioning can be done to increase the endurance of a friesian, but typically the purebreds are not the horse of choice for sports requiring long/high levels of endurance, such as endurance riding, combined driving etc. It's not completely out of the realm of possibility, and individuals in the breed vary, but overall friesians typically have lower than standard endurance and/or require more often conditioning to improve or maintain it to more athletic levels. 

Tack: Friesian backs can be harder to fit, especially due to the connection of the base of the neck to the shoulder/wither. Pay special attention to the make of your saddle and its impact on your horse's back. Take note of wear patterns on your saddle pad and any pinching at the wither/sitting of the pommel on the scapular bone. Shoulder movement can be greatly restricted by this and will reflect in your horse's work/gait. If you have any doubts about your horse's performance or movement, have your saddle fit checked. 

Stifle Conditioning: 

In Hand:
This is real simple stuff. Those of you who have worked a horse in lines for preparatory piaffe have definitely done this exercise.... This can be done with just a halter and leadrope,just a bridle and leadrope, a bridle and surcingle with lines, or even a bridle, surcingle/saddle with sidereins and your choice of what to hold the horse with (lines, leadrope etc). Sometimes I don't even use a leadrope and if I have a horse "soft" enough I'll just put my index finger through the ring of their snaffle in a bridle. Your choice of equipment determines how "hard" the exercise is--and DON'T USE SIDEREINS UNLESS YOUR HORSE ALREADY HAS FRAMEWORK AND GIVES TO PRESSURE. Sidereins are NOT to hold a horse into a frame--they are there to give you an outside rein to control the other shoulder and/or to softly encourage them to round their backs. Anyway, with any of the above equipment configurations, set the horse on a SLIGHT downhill slope, up against a fence or something that will keep them from swinging away from you. Use an in-hand whip (or long dressage whip) and whip up and brush them on their point of hip to ask them to walk up--you can give a big verbal command with this too to help. The point of this is that you want them to round/drop their croup a bit and walk forward underneath themselves enthusiastically. Walk a few steps, then ask them to stop. Then ask the horse to stretch their back by putting their head down to about chest level and, while in frame with their back lifted, ask them to back a few steps. Look for a "rock" back on the hind--this is really what you want. Also, you can use your whip to have them lift each hind leg individually several times as well. I break that up in between walks and backs so the horse doesn't get bored or fall into a pattern. You're looking for the horse to begin to collect in their walk as they walk down the slope, drop their croup a bit and start supporting more weight in the hind. Obviously, you can do trot work with this too, and once the horse begins to really round their back to this exercise and support collection from their lowered, weight-supporting hindquarters, you'll see them begin to take "piaffe-y" steps in their trot.

Another exercise is putting cavelettis in a slight circular pattern. Put the ends of all of them together, then fan out the other ends of them to be about 3 feet apart. You can start this as just ground poles and then raise the height of them (the beauty of cavelettis) to graduatated heights, first in the middle, then all 4 so the horse REALLY begins to lift using the stifle and gaskin. The 3 foot apart designation is for walking strides. It should be 5 feet and the "heads" of the cavelettis further apart for trotting.I do this in walk with Dolly, put her in a bridle and surcingle, stand to the outside of the obstacle and ground drive her back and forth over it. The point to this is that the horse should ideally have themselves in a frame (not just a headset, but a whole body experience--encourage them to put their heads down and raise their backs) and make sure they stretch across the outside of their body in the semi circle. This can be done in hand or ridden. The complexity of the exercise increases as you start from the outside, where the poles are 3 feet apart, and move to the inside where the horse REALLY has to activate that hind and deal with shortened striding and closer together poles.

You can work your horse in hand in a shoulder in circle. While asking for shoulder in on the ground (make sure you're not just pulling the horse's head to the inside....you have to keep control of that outside shoulder.....ground driving lines help with this), tap on the inside hind to encourage it to step under the horse and be weight bearing. Watch the outside hind for swinging action. Horses tend to evade this exercise by stepping OUT of the track with the outside hind. Again, driving lines HELP contain this, but are limited in their power. If you're REALLY coordinated, ask for slight counterflexion in the poll during this--it will help a weak horse who is "one sided" strengthen the side they tend to protect. I.E. Dolly is "left handed". Most horses are built concave to the right, convex to the left. It's why it's easier to longe your horse counterclockwise, easier to get the right lead vs the left etc. Well, Dolly's special and she's the opposite :-). I always joke it's because she was imported and they drive on the other side of the street over there... So, when I do this exercise with Dolly, since she LOVES to bend left and HATES to bend right, I will ask, when I do the shoulder-in circle counterclockwise, for slight counterflexion to the right (I at least keep her straight over her shoulders and don't let her bend left) and then ask that right hind to step up under her and bear weight, careful not to let the LEFT hind escape by duckwalking outside the circle. For most of you, read the above and fill in right for left and it's how you'll treat your horse. On the ground in hand, this is a very complex exercise. In the saddle, it's a little easier. The circle, btw, is only about 5 meters. Under saddle, I do larger 10-15 meter circles. 

Also, you can longe on a slope as well. This asks the horse to bend across their outside and really step up under themselves to support with their inside AND outside hinds, depending on where you ask for your transitions ( i.e. as the horse is going up the slope ask for an up transition, as they go down, ask them for a down transition etc). Even walk/trot/halt is good with this--and again, sidereins are better at keeping the topline muscles active. They're not necessary, but they DO help keep the hind engaged and help keep the horse working through their backs vs going to easier subtle evasion tactics with their balance.

Under Saddle Exercises:

The simplest is the half-halt on a hill. On a slope, WALK the horse in frame (this is important) up the slope. Every few strides, half halt or halt, immediately following up with leg to ask them to take off from their collected hindquarters and push off up the slope. If the horse is NOT in frame, they will PULL themselves up the hill. I do do this sometimes to work the shoulders, and also to give relief to the hindquarters for a moment too. Count how many hills you do. Start with a few and get to 20. If your horse is weak on a particular stifle/gaskin/hip/what-have you, you can shoulder in up the hill. Basically, you're looking for a 3 track movement. Where's the wall??? The wall is in your mind, unless you actually have a fenceline nearby. If you're concentrating on the right hind, do a right shoulder in. It makes the inside hind more weight bearing. This is an INTENSE exercise,so be judicious with it. Don't overdue, and don't let the horse turn this into a 4 track movement.Travers up a hill is helpful for working a particular shoulder. It's no slouch on hind ends either, but depending on the frequency of your half-halts, will target either end of the horse. If the left shoulder is weak, a left travers (left haunches in) will help them. Again, don't let the horse turn this into a 4 track movement. Keep it to 3, else the horse wiggles so much and twists themselves to the point that it does more harm than good and unbalances them. Keep the slope gentle. Only do this on a steeper slope once the horse really masters this--and don't overface the horse or do this for too many repetitions. Just like doing curls, no pain, no gain, but trust your horse when they tell you enough is enough. Some days they will tire faster than others. 

Lumbar Strengthening: Another weak point in a friesian. It is easy to make the mistake of "riding the neck" of a friesian (or andalusian!) while allowing them to move around uder you with a falsely round back. The above exercies are meant for getting the horse to accept and offer to support more weight on their hindquarters and PUSH. While these exercises do work for this, I would actually use different techniques for "back" muscles ( i.e.the lumbar) that involve compaction and extension of the frame, long loose, round and low work etc. (not rollkeur, specifically, though in limited applications for short periods it can help gymnasticize that area as well, but BOY do you have to ride it right to know if you are targeting the right muscle group!). Just simple "long and low" work on the verticle, while paying attention to the hocks to make sure you have true hock engagement. It's hard to tell from the saddle unless you're experienced, so "eyes on the ground" with lessons from an experienced trainer and/or even taping yourself doing this exercise and reviewing it with a trainer would be helpful to connect the "yes that's right!" to the feel in the saddle that true hock engagement creates. Exercises like backing (making sure the horse remains in frame, rounds their back and drops their croup....tie those long tails up!!) can also help with this as well. Backing a straight line is extremely important, though, as your legs help to guide the hindquarters and keep them from swinging or "waddling" backwards. You need to truly keep the horse between your aides to back effectively. Play with it to perfect it, and see if you can build up steps. Once you've got that down reliably, try backing a 10m figure 8! Learning how to "steer" in reverse is downright challenging---try it sometime!! (and don't let your horse cheat and turn it into a turn on the forehand.) 

 

About KFPS AND FHANA
To maintain the integrity of the breed in the USA, the Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA) working in concert with the original parent organization, the Friesch Paarden Stamboek in the Netherlands strictly regulates the registration of the Friesian Horse. The FPS is the registry for the Friesian horse worldwide. The registry was founded in 1879 and today's Dutch registered horses are the result of over a century of rigorous evaluation and selection of breeding stock. Organizations from other countries may also register Friesian horses, but horses registered with those organizations may not have met the standards of the FPS and therefore the true Dutch Friesian registry cannot recognize the horses. The Friesian Horse Association of North America cannot recognize a horse whose papers are not issued by the Friesch Paarden Stamboek.