What Happens At A Friesian Inspection?
By: Triple Crown Insider- Sammi Majors
In my last blog I discussed the various predicates for Friesians. To follow up, I will discuss how inspections actually run. The country of origin for Friesians is the Netherlands, where you see Friesians standing in fields like you see Quarter Horses or Paint Horses standing in fields in America—they are everywhere! Because there are so many, the inspection season here begins in early summer and goes through early fall. almost every weekend. Once the inspections are done in Holland, teams of judges and runners travel to other countries to do inspections for a couple weeks. In America, inspections are typically set up in different regions, such as east coast, west coast, and then in the middle of the country. Judges then travel from location to location each day, with most inspections occurring during the week. However, you may just get lucky enough that the inspection closest to you is on a Saturday.
In the Netherlands, inspections are typically large, with two to three arenas running all day—such as one for foals, one for mares, and one for stallions and geldings (in America, there is just one arena used for inspection). Foals are presented with their moms. They are led into the arena and stood up in front of the judges to have their exterior and conformation judged. Once complete, the foal is turned loose and the mom is walked on the small triangle. It is the job of the runners to make sure that the foal stays to the inside of the mare so that the judges can see it. After one circuit at the walk, the runners then trot around the large triangle with the mare and foal. Generally, foals stay with their moms, but sometimes they get a little rambunctious and decide to gallop away bucking and being silly. If they are a little wild, they will usually take a second trip around to try and show the trot better. Once completed, they are taken in for another look over by the judges if needed, and then are immediately given feedback and awarded their premie.
Mares, geldings, and stallions are all presented in a similar way. They are individually led into the arena, stood up for inspection, then walked once around the small triangle, and trotted twice around the large triangle. Watching the experienced runners do the handoff between the two times around at the trot is really fun to see! Most of the time it works seamlessly, but sometimes there is a little hiccup and minor crash. Aside from the person at the horse’s head, there is another runner behind with a whip or shaker whose job is to make the horse “jazzed up” and really get them using themselves to the best of their abilities. They are then awarded an appropriate predicate/premie as well and given comments from the judges.
Something fun to point out is the attire of the handlers and tack used at Friesian inspections. All of the Friesians are presented in a white halter or bridle—halter for any horse under the age of three and a bridle for those three and older. The runners are also dressed in white button down shirts and white pants. Typically, they are also in white tennis shoes and have a white tie on as well.
Throughout the day, they award a champion and reserve champion for foals, mares, stallions, and geldings based on scores. At the end of the inspection day, all of the champions and reserve champions come back into the arena to be awarded an overall champion and reserve champion for the day. To be as safe as possible, stallions are lead in first, then mares, then the mares with foals. They are walked around the arena and the judges take another look at them. Once they have had sufficient time to observe the horses and make their final decisions, the champion and reserve champion of the day are awarded!