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Zander fan Camelot Returns to Friesian Stallion Approval

Zander fan Camelot, owned by Victoria Gillenwater and her Scenic View Farm, LLC in Knoxville, Tenn., are on a quest to become one of only 100 KFPS (Dutch) breeding stallions in the world. 
The Friesian Horse Association of North America each year hosts a series of inspections all across North America where a jury of trained Dutch inspectors study each horses’ breeding, conformation, disposition, beauty and ability to move at the walk, canter and, most importantly, the trot.  The inspection of the horse for entry into the studbook is a rigorous examination, with a goal of only breeding the very best specimens of the Friesian with the goal of improving the overall and future quality of the breed.  In the case of stallions, the inspection process is so strict, exacting and rigorous that in the entire history of the Friesian studbook there have only been 480 stallions approved and licensed to breed by the KFPS.
This isn’t the first time for Zander to be selected for the stallion approval. In 2010, Zander was selected as a green three-year-old for his spectacular movement.  At that time, five horses were selected but only two were still in the competition at the end of the 70 days.  On day 68, Zander pulled a ligament, a minor injury, but one that necessitated him being pulled from the competition by his owner.
After a year of Victoria Gillenwater showing him saddle seat, she decided to try again. “While I had never dreamed of owning an approved Friesian breeding stallion, I did believe in THIS horse and I felt that he should have the opportunity to go as far as he could as a Friesian. I think he can become one of about 100 approved stallions in the world, in a breed in 54 countries with about 60,000 horses. Zander has proven over and over he is a great horse, why not give him a shot at the history books,” said Gillenwater.
After more than a month of inspections, Zander became the only horse in North America to be selected by the jury for this year’s evaluation. Zander gets no credit from his close finish before or for his accomplishments outside the world of dressage. He was shipped to DG Bar Ranch with Willy Arts in Hanford, Calif., where he is evaluated for 70 days for his trainability, his aptitude in dressage and show driving.  The final decision will be made by the three Dutch inspectors on March 14-15.
Zander fan Camelot is the first Friesian stallion to be evaluated for approval in the history of the breed to have been shown in saddle seat, a discipline not recognized by the Dutch, however his athleticism has shown his ability to excel in dressage as well.  
“Our hearts go out to the horse community who has cheered us on from the first moment of this journey,” says owner Victoria Gillenwater. “ For those who have judged him, cheered for him and shared kind words, we are thrilled.  There are no words to thank Jacques VanNiekerk for keeping my horse in perfect condition. Willy says that Jacques makes his job easier by presenting the horse in such wonderful condition.”
Elizabeth Sharp, President of the Friesian Horse Association of North America further explains, “The process of becoming an approved KFPS Friesian stallion is not for the feint of heart.  After being selected at a fall inspection, the horse’s papers are evaluated by the Stallion committee in the Netherlands.  Then, if they are interesting and good enough, the owner must submit a full set of leg radiographs and a very specific semen evaluation.  If those are all acceptable, the owner sends their horse to the Central Proving Test location, now in Hanford, Calif., for a 70-day evaluation in both riding and driving.

 “The stallions are seen by a team of three judges, three times over the test period of 70 days. Each inspection the horse must do well enough to stay in the testing.  At the last inspection, the horses are scored, and must do well enough to be considered for breeding, with a provisional approval for breeding no more than 180 mares per year.  Their foal crop is evaluated every year, to verify that they are producing superior offspring, and adding value to the breed.  They are given six years to produce enough offspring to have 20 of those offspring tested for suitability for riding and driving, with acceptable passing scores.   
“At that time the judging committee makes the decision to either extend full breeding privileges or to pull the breeding permit. I think that this is probably the most stringent registry for breeding approval in the world, and with our limited gene pool, I am confident that we will continue to move forward with ever improving horses,” continues Elizabeth Sharp.
“Zander is the first horse in the United States to be selected twice to try the 70 day test. He made it almost to the end the first time, when a minor injury forced him to withdraw from the testing.  He is back, older and stronger, and we are glad he is able to compete again, as his pedigree is unusual for the United States, and he would add variety for our US horses.  I am superstitious enough not to want to mess things up, so I will not speculate as to the final results, but I do have faith in the process, trainer Willy Arts, and most of all in Zander’s ability to succeed,” concludes Sharp.
Amy Austin, a Friesian breeder and photographer, says, “Zander is the epitome of what a Friesian should be.  He is the horse you see in your mind when someone says the word Friesian; he is the horse we all dream of.  When Zander was presented at the Tennessee keuring in 2013 he simply owned the inspection process and all in attendance; he has more presence and charisma than one horse ever should.  When you see him, be it standing in his stall enjoying the attention and love of his people or flying around the arena making your forget to breathe, you know you are seeing greatness, a once in a lifetime horse.  To even be invited to move forward in the stallion approval process is a huge honor, it shows the belief the judges have in his promise.  Zander delivers on all angles; he isn’t just a great horse on paper - he is a great horse in all aspects and has proven himself already in the show ring. If his amazing athleticism, his ground covering powerful and yet graceful movement or his near perfect conformation isn’t enough, he has the temperament that makes the Friesian horse so special. “
KFPS is the oldest studbook in the Netherlands and promotes the Friesian Horse in the broadest sense of the word.  The KFPS was founded in 1879 establishing a breeding program to maintain and further refine the unique characteristics of the Friesian breed.
The KFPS International Studbook has a small membership of 14,000 people, and more than half are located outside of the Netherlands.  Friesians can be found in every continent and in more than 50 countries.  Affiliated organizations within other countries, such as the Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA), invite Dutch inspectors all over the world to evaluate every Friesian that is inspected according to the KFPS standard of the breed by the jury of inspectors trained by the KFPS.  During these inspections, the horses are not judged against each other as in a particular class at a horse show, but rather against the standard and the attributes of the Friesian breed.  In many cases, there are no winners and of course in some cases there are spectacular individuals who will be reviewed by committees in the Netherlands and their papers are amended to reflect their success.
Interest in Friesians has exploded in recent decades with a population of more than 60,000 registered horses.  More and more horse lovers are impressed by their regal bearing, their suitability for the show ring in dressage, show driving, saddle seat, combined driving, carriage driving, trail riding, and recreation, and a horse to enjoy as a friend.


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