THE team at Cartmel's Black Horses have been celebrating after achieving success at the annual Friesian Horse Association of Great Britain and Ireland’s inspections and gradings.

Their mare Anja came away with the overall champion title at the event held at the Vale View Equestrian Centre in Melton Mowbray. She has become one of only three in the country to be awarded the prestigious KFPS (Koninklijk Friesch Paarden-Stamboek) model mare status. It is the highest grading a Friesian mare can be awarded.

"We are extremely proud that we also own one of the other Model Mares, Femma, who won the title 10 years ago, and coincidentally Anja won the title of champion foal in those same 2008 inspections," said stable owner Tracey Alexander.

Anja, who was bred by Melanie Given in Aberdeenshire, already has a proven track record at the stable of Ms Alexander for winning breed champion in 2011, 2016 and now in 2018.

Judges made the special trip from Friesland in Holland to preside over the event and Friesian horse enthusiasts travelled from as far away as Japan, China, Russia, Canada, Australia and the USA.

Of three horses that had been abandoned and taken in by Ms Alexander, a mare, Maaike, was also taken to participate in the inspections and gradings. She showed great promise and came away with the much sought after ‘Ster’ status, only awarded to the top 20 per cent of Friesians.

For Flookburgh-based Alana Fowler, 20, this was the first time she had attended the inspections with her gelding colt “Ferdinand."

“He’s only 16 months old and I was so proud when he won second Premie and the overall title of the VB Young Stallion and Geldings Champion,” said Alana.

Miss Fowler stables Ferdinand at Cartmel’s Black Horses, where he is learning to interact with some of the other 14 Friesian horses in Ms Alexander’s care.

"The awards are testimony to all of my team’s hard work and dedication in the year-long process of preparing the Friesians for the inspections," said Ms Alexander. "And I could not have achieved so much without the tireless support of Sarah Dobson and her family, who spend every weekend here helping with everything - from working horses to mending fences!"