It’s a long story between the very first Friesian horses that arrived in North America in 1974 and the 14,000 registered horses now. With the celebrations of the 35th anniversary of FHANA this July a good reason to reflect on a few highlights.
According to the present Chairman of FHANA, Dr. Rosanne Palermo, the Performance Test and the possibility to approve Friesian stallions in North America are among the most important developments of the last twenty years. Before this was introduced, Friesian Studbook stallions could obtain a stud license that was only valid in North America. Born in the Netherlands in 1993, Feike 395 was flown to America in 2000 where he received a stud license in 2001. KFPS Director Ids Hellinga: ‘The KFPS insists that standards for Friesian Studbook stallions must be the same all over the world. This led to the decision to set up an all-inclusive American Performance Test.’ In 2008 Michiel 442 was the first stallion born and approved in America with a worldwide stud license. A ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is in place signifying that all stallions approved in North America will serve breeding in their home country for the first two years before potential relocation to another country.
The Vanderploeg influence
The wish to have their own approval procedures was also fed by the 2004 approval in the Netherlands of the Michigan-born Doaitsen 420 from Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg’s stud. In 2011 Vanderploeg repatriated Doaitsen 420 to the USA. The FHANA was keen to acquire an instrument to approve successful stallions on their own authority. The Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg breeding stud has been of great influence in North America.
Dairy farmer Vanderploeg emigrated to Ithaca, Michigan in 1991. In 1997 he purchased his first two Friesian broodmares. The first foal to be born on their farm was later approved as Tonis 393. After Doaitsen 420 the ‘cousins’ Sipke 450 and Tonjes 459, both bred by Vanderploeg, were approved. Vanderploeg has also bred a number of Model- and Crown mares that often win the top ribbons in their categories at inspections.
Starting with emigrants
Inspector Piet Bergsma recognises a positive trend in breeding. ‘In Canada and America the people have seriously invested in good-quality horses. They have also imported proven sires from the Netherlands, which has certainly had an effect on inspections. The number of inspection venues has gone done in recent years. Some breeders have quit and in North America the huge distances are always a barrier. Horses are increasingly better prepared for inspections, partly thanks to Dutch training stables that send people over to North America to assist. A positive feature is that breeders give more thought to stallion choices. New young people who are enthusiastic about Friesians are emerging and they are keen to take over from the older generations. Young influx is important, they also know how to enthuse other people in their networks.’