Meet Douwe, my very special partner. I found Douwe in 2008 after a very difficult year. I lost two upper level horses, one that I had trained since he was a foal. I was very depressed and on the verge of quitting. One day I was re-inspired watching Sabine Schut-Kery perform with her Friesians. I thought, "that's what I want to do, perform with a Friesian!" Literally 2 weeks later I found Douwe on an island off the coast of Maine. It hasn't been an easy road but I know that Douwe was destined to enter my life exactly when he did and I am forever grateful.
Douwe was born in Holland on May 16, 2001. He was imported to the United States when he was 7 years old as a driving horse. He had also been ridden saddleseat with basic training under saddle when he was sent to Iron Gate Friesians in Massachusetts to be sold. He then ended up on an island off the coast of Maine, destined to be a trail horse. I was giving my first clinic on the island when I was asked to look at this Friesian. He had become unsafe to ride and needed a new home. I was not interested in working with a dangerous horse but I wondered if he was mostly reacting to the situation since he was the only horse. When I brought him to Isaac Royal Farm he settled in right away and he didn't display the dangerous behavior since he was surrounded by other horses and ridden in a secure environment.
Douwe is currently schooling some upper level movements, liberty and trick training. I did a lot of long and low to lift his back and work in the fields to develop his canter in the first year. I took my time developing a relationship with him and I just wanted to have fun with my new horse. Douwe scored very well competing at Training and First level dressage. He was undefeated at Training level with scores consistently in the 70%'s. He won the Northeast Friesian Horse Club Training Level Champion Award in 2011. Douwe loves his tricks and currently knows how to lay down under saddle, rear, bow, Spanish walk, work on a pedestal and talk like Mr. Ed. He recently played a magical unicorn in an indie film called Essential Realism and will be in another film this coming summer (2014).
Douwe's personality has been revealed to me slowly over the years, like peeling back the layers of an onion. He was quite grumpy, pinned his ears a lot and didn't interact at all when I first bought him. He would stand in his stall facing the back window and ignore me when I brushed and loved on him. I really feel that Douwe never had a "person" of his own and was used to fending for himself and internalizing his anxiety. Over time I know that he is really starting to understand and like his training. He is much smarter then I thought he was and continues to surprise me. It took him over a year to really start whinnying to me and now he talks just about every day. The more I try to read his emotions the more he teaches me. He is truly a once-in-a-lifetime horse and his complicated personality makes him all the more interesting.