the flying Friesian at London International Horse Show

  • One of the horses who caught everybody’s eye on day one of dressage at the London International Horse Show was the Friesian stallion Elias, ridden by Belgium’s Marc Peter Spahn.

    Marc and Elias scored 68.42% to finish 13th in the short grand prix, part one of the dressage World Cup qualifier, supported by Horse & Hound.

    The 13-year-old stallion is by Jorn 430, and Marc has ridden him since he was a three-year-old, “so we have been doing this whole journey together”.

    “Elias is such a wonderful character to work with, a real Friesian horse. Like most Friesians he is really soft, like a Labrador, I always say,” added Marco.

    “When he entered the arena today he wasn’t really sure, and thought, ‘what is all this?’ when he saw the crowd. One part of him said, ‘I have to show off’ and the other part is still a bit careful, but I am pleased with him. We had some mistakes in the one-tempis; I know he can do them but in a test there is sometimes still too much stress at certain points,” continued the rider, who has now taken five Friesian horses up to grand prix level.

    “I try to show that the Friesian is a horse that is not only for hacking. You can also do dressage with them and they have really nice characters to work with.

    “It’s always fun to ride a Friesian, and we have a deep respect for all the ones we are competing against, so if I do a good test I am happy whatever the result.”

    While Elias’ feathers might catch the eye while he is in the ring, it’s his mane that is most impressive.

    “It comes down to his knees,” says Marco, who always plaits Elias’ mane into one long running plait himself. “I have a superstition. I always think that when I do it myself, it brings me luck.”

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