Belgium/Netherlands Trip 2015

In January, 2015 the Fenway Foundation embarked on a visit to meet with fellow Friesian research partners in Belgium and the Netherlands as well as attend the 2015 KFPS Hengstkeuring in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. The Fenway team landed in Amsterdam on January 6th and headed down to Ghent, Belgium, a very old historic city and home of the Ghent Altar Piece. Dr. Catherine DeLaSalle of Ghent University and Dr. Marco DeBruijn of Wolvega, Friesland joined us for a walking tour with a wonderful guide, which provided us with not only a good bit of the history of Ghent, but a bit of the local flavor with a stop for some traditional beverages and lunch at the University dining room. That afternoon we had the rare pleasure of viewing the Ghent Altar Piece for ourselves and we were all amazed at the attention to detail paid by the two brothers who painted it all those years ago. Our next stop was the Veterinary Hospital at Ghent University where a colleague of Dr. DeLasalle’s showed us their veterinary operations. It is a big, impressive facility with everything one would need to care for a wide variety of large animals.

The next day was spent on a tour of the Zeeland area of the Netherlands with Dr. DeBruijn as our guide. The day brought cloudy skies, wind, rain and some chilly temperatures. Just perfect (LOL) for our tour of the Zeeland Dam. Our tour guide was a retired engineer, so he had vast knowledge of the construction of this amazing dam. We all learned quite a lot, but were glad for the warmth and dryness of our next stop, a fresh seafood restaurant in which the owners so graciously opened up their restaurant for us and served up the best mussels taken from the waters surrounding the building. The food was wonderful, as was the hospitality. We then made our way north to Wolvega in Friesland for the remainder of our journey.

Early Friday morning, we met with two of the researchers at Wolvega Equine Clinic (Dr. Marco DeBruijn’s practice) for a presentation covering several different ongoing research projects that are delving into some of these significant concerns surrounding the Friesian breed. Aortic Rupture was covered in depth and we, at the Foundation, are proud of the part that those of us in North America are playing in helping to move this research forward. Other topics were covered for which we can all look forward to seeing the results in publication in the near future. Exciting stuff!! Two of those presentations are now included under the “Education/Links” section of the Foundation’s website:

Aortic Rupture -Margreet.pdf and
Aortic Rupture Dev of Diagnostic Tools -Berit.pdf.

We left Wolvega Equine in time to head over to the Stallion Show and take in the lecture given by Ids Hellinga. The lecture was well attended and we all left knowing more than we did when we arrived. It is always good to hear from Mr. Hellinga and the KFPS, receiving updates that reassure us all that the Friesian breed is being watched over and tended to with the respect that this breed deserves.

And what can be said about the KFPS Hengstkeuring or “Stallion Show”? Let’s just say that the horses were amazing, beautiful, and athletic, showing us over and over why we have such a passion for this breed. Words don’t do these horses justice. The Friday night show, highlighting the human-horse bond, caused each and every one of us to remember with gratitude a horse that played a significant role in our own lives. On Saturday, we all sat in our seats until the very end, excited to see who would take home the title of “Champion,” taking pictures and video so we can remember all the special moments. After the show we said our good byes to the two wonderful doctors that took time out of their busy schedules and served as wonderful tour guides. The days spent in discussions regarding the Friesian horse were invaluable.

On Sunday, the Foundation team traveled to the home of “Jasper 366” at the Fan Panhuys farm owned by the Wijma family. It was an honor for us to meet and have a “photo op” with this Friesian stallion that is loved and admired by many a Friesian lover. We also had an opportunity to watch BaukjeWijmaride one of their Friesians at a local dressage show and it was interesting to see the differences vs showing in the US. We ended our trip to the Netherlands with dinner with “Jasper’s” family in which good food and great conversation kept us all around the table for almost 3 hours. We then had a late night trip back to Amsterdam and then back home on Monday. It was a wonderful trip, with an opportunity to learn new things regarding the Friesian horse, see old friends, meet new people and enjoy the beauty of the Friesian horse. Hope you enjoy our photo album below!