October 28, 2022
Competing against more than three hundred other horses in the ring as the only Friesian: Dirk T van Sessing Star AAA (Uldrik 457) did it, together with his GP rider Justine Greer. Although this combination’s previous experience amounted to just four competitions at this level, they showed what they’re worth at the Australian Championships. The combination finished 5th and 8th in their category and scored 5th prize in the Overall Novice Championship.
‘Dirk was the only Friesian at this National Championship. Over three hundred horses participated, most of them Warmbloods’, owner Katrina Routson sets off. ‘This is the most prominent dressage competition in Australia and participants travel here from all corners of the country hoping to get a chance to compete against the ruling champions of the country.’
After leaving the 70-day test Dirk was relocated to Australia in 2020 where he is used for breeding as well as the sport. ‘He is trained by Justine Greer, who is a Grand Prix rider. Although he has only competed four times at this level we were very pleased with his results.’
Not many Friesian horses
The stallion is scheduled to stay at Routson’s yard until February, then he is going to return to his trainer Justine Greer. ‘She is one of the best Grand Prix riders in Australia. Our first goal for him is to obtain the Sport predicate. Hopefully that will materialize in the next two years. After that he will continue his training towards the higher levels. Right now there are precious few Friesian horses active in dressage sports here in Australia so I have made it my mission to show the general horse community over here that Friesians offer serious prospects in dressage, and the best way to do that is by presenting at least one talented young horse.’
Whereas the foal season in the Netherlands has now come to an end, it’s only just starting in Australia. ‘Dirk’s first foal of the season was born a few weeks ago via an ET mare in the topmost corner of Australia, in Cairns, some 2900 km away. In a couple of weeks we are expecting our first two foals, out of a Beart 411 Crown mare and her daughter. We are eagerly looking forward to how the combination with these high-quality mares works out. He is gearing up for a full stud season, but in combination with Dutch standards the population of Friesian horses is only small here. On average a mere thirty purebred foals see the light of day here in Australia every year.’
The stallion has a breeding permit for Australia and his second crop of foals is about to be born. ‘Since his arrival in Australia Dirk has made good progress. He came in December 2020 and since then has grown taller. He has a very athletic and modern build. Exactly what we need for the Australian mares who predominantly come from more classical lines.’ Routson has a rather particular method to predict the moment of foaling: with PH test strips for swimming pools. ‘Just put a drop of the mare’s milk on the strip and if it then turns bright yellow the foal is usually born within 24 hours’, she explains.
A few weeks from now Dirk is going to represent the Friesian association at the Equitana, the biggest equestrian show in the Southern Hemisphere. ‘Around 40,000 horse enthusiasts will be visiting this four-day exposition. Dirk too will be there to give the public an opportunity to see him in the flesh. Additionally, he will also be presented under saddle. He is also going to take part in the Equitana Horse of the Year, an in-hand show in which representatives from every breed are going to compete against each other. This competition was only held five times previously. Bastiaan 510 took part on two occasions and both times he won, which makes him the only horse to win the title twice. Needless to say that we are pretty excited that Dirk is going to represent our wonderful breed.’
Photos: Katrina Routson