Cornelia-one year of dressage

Date posted: 23rd August 2014

All of those who follow the Friesians Scotland facebook page know exactly who Cornelia is and what we get up to but I thought it is now time to explain what exactly we have been doing and why!

You don’t have to search for long on the internet before you find videos of Friesian horses competing at high dressage levels but these are outwith the UK. There are very few in this country who take dressage seriously with Friesians because most people buy them as sensible family horses as opposed to a serious competition horse. Unfortunately because not many are out competing and seen publically doing well it has led to the misguided opinion that Friesians are actually incapable of competing successfully in the sport.

I have spent years listening to various theories as to why the breed are incapable of competing against Warmbloods which I have to admit really does irritate me as I have been competing for years and know the breed are very capable dressage horses but knowing that whatever I do unaffiliated isn’t going to have much of an impact and having been inspired by the determination of people like Gill Bonner-Knights who has to go to great lengths to compete her two geldings on the mainland as she lives on Guernsey! also Julia Catling’s enthusiasm about competing her Friesian BD and getting the breed taken a bit more seriously, I decided that I should stop making excuses and commit to competing in a more public way. My plan was to start with a young horse and take him or her up through the levels, sharing the highs and lows as we go (on the “Competing Friesian Horses UK facebook page”) and in turn the hope is to inspire others to get out with their Friesians as well as proving the sceptics wrong!

Deciding which horse to affiliate was a big decision and I narrowed it down to a choice of two horses, Cornelia or a gelding named Tieman. I had taken Cornelia out to a few unaffiliated competitions in which I was really pleased with her, just after which a lady arrived and fell for my gelding Tieman so the decision was made and Cornelia’s dressage career began!

Cornelia is now 6 years old and has been affiliated for one year. It has been hard work and finding enough affiliated competitions close by is a task in it’s self, more often than not we have to make a 2 hour journey up to one of the yards in Aberdeenshire, two hour drive down to Ayrshire or an hour to the Lothians but if we are lucky enough to get a free day when one of the local yards has a BD competition then we only have a 20 minute drive which is very much welcomed! It has been a big commitment but it has been such a successful year for us. We started in prelim level and quickly qualified for area festivals and then qualified for the finals, prelim regionals and then moved on to novice level. We have competed twice in novice regional championships the first time finishing 6th and the second time finishing 3rd. We have now started gaining points for elementary level so are steadily working our way up. While chasing points for regional qualification we have come home with lots of red rosettes as well as having qualified for unaffiliated championships in the process  and won the championship prelim level at Ladyleys, then won the championship novice level at North East Riding Club.

The massive low of the year was when Cornelia had a virus and was seriously ill so much so that I thought I was loosing her as she had started killing off her own white bloodcells so was unable to clot her own blood! she is such a determined little girl and fought her way through it and amazingly sprung back to life as soon as she came out of hospital. After having months off work and me wrapping her in cotton wool I brought her back out at our Friesian show at the end of June to do a novice music class but it was clear we had work to do after her break as we weren’t quite together (although still had 69%), a few weeks later it was our first time off the yard since she was unwell and we were competing elementary. I was nervous as this was to be the decider as to whether she would need more time off and I didn’t want to push her at all but even with me wearing “kid gloves” with her she came out with 64 and 67% in her two elementary classes which I was delighted with.

We are back on track now and with a lot of work hope to have similar successes in elementary as we did in prelim and novice. So this is Cornelia’s story so far!

It is not often that we see other Friesians competing at the same competitions but it’s always good to see others out on our travels and I hope that the numbers will continue to increase.

For anyone who has a Friesian and is interested in competing (in any sphere) or is already competing we have a facebook page to share issues and successes “Competing Friesian Horses UK”.

Cornelia N Champion Fountian 2014 001



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