Mares. Well, cannot really have a breeding farm without mares, since stallions were truly not available then. There was plenty of research that was done and what we wanted or hoped to get to start. As many breeders thought when they first started and it seemed even more so back then, you wanted a ster mare, the best of the best but at that time, even giving your right arm would not have obtained that. With so few numbers of Friesians in the US at that time, the amount of ster mares was even fewer and hardly anyone was selling them, well, at least not without giving a small fortune for it. But we just could not find any. So on to the next plan, studbook mares. We really did not want to start out straight with youngsters but thought getting a few mares in foal would be the best.
We started pouring over what mares we could find, examining their papers, looking for specific bloodlines or traits and then went to check out the ones we liked. It seemed very frustrating at first, many we eliminated quickly. It was easy to see as a new person coming into the breed, the best were not offered to us, well maybe after we bought these six over here first….eeep! We finally found a few we liked. One we knew was not really going to have the potential of being ster, she was a bit to short but was one hell of a horse. She went under saddle or in harness and had shown and already had multiple foals and was in foal for the following year, we fell in love with her right away. The other we truly thought had the potential to be ster, though the owners tried to convince us she did not but this other mare they had one. Eventually, we decided on these two, Popke and Sarinette.
Popke was truly the horse you could do anything with or put anyone on, long as you did not try to cowboy on her, as we called it, then she ignored everything you asked for. Sarinette could also ride and drive though with a little less experience, she showed us just how sweet Friesians are, loving to be adored for as long as you could stand it. Both of these mares taught us so much about the Friesian horse. They tolerated Caesar, thinking a gelding was not as useful but he was ok they thought. They were both in foal (back to just the mares..) and we were so excited for that to happen the following year.
Over the years we did it all with these two, seeing what a Friesian truly could do. Popke seemed to really enjoy western, the slow jog was best, why bother moving if you did not have to! We drove them both, as Ceasar and the girls taught us to do that. We also tried dressage, saddleseat, some jumping and they were some of the first SCA jousting horses in the US, they helped lay the foundation for what we have now. Though Popke had a great strategy about that we called the “cheat to win,” which anyone going against her complained about, she liked to lean out of the way so the opposing rider could not get a good lance hit in, did I say Friesians were smart? =P Sarinette also did some competing in lower lvl cross country. We had met up with a woman who did that with her warmblood and wanted to try a Friesian, so why not. She rode and showed Nette off with us and then took her to some events, which Nette did ok at. That woman was actually a local doctor and since we were new to the area and she was the only one we knew, she became out doc as well…it is really great to have a doctor who does the horse thing as well, they really understand and no explanations needed!
We got those two mares in 94 with their foals arriving the next year. We rebred them and concentrated on the possibilities of getting them to ster. In 96 with foals at their sides they showed off at the keuring, we knew Popke was a bit short but wanted the real answer on that and it was right. Nette went out their and demanded it though, she ended up with a first premie filly and then came back and got her ster. We were so excited and thought hey, we must at least be doing something right, lol. The following day we actually had a phone call from Nette’s previous owner asking how we did that, they told her she would never ster. Well, we said, she looked in awesome shape and she begged the judges for it, we thought she had a good chance when we bought her. If anyone ever wants to know the best way and what the judges like the best well…get your horse in shape! Obviously they have to have a chance, look good, move well, but the judges truly like a horse that has been worked, and all we really did with Nette is lunge work! We like to say she looked like a brick shithouse by the time she was at the keuring.
Those mares have taught us so much. It may not have been what we wanted at first but I would not have traded them for anything.