Dirk is around 15.2 hands. We have had him for a little over a year. With Friesians, they mature slowly. If he was a quarter horse he would have been broke almost 2 years ago. He is 4 years old this year. Since Friesians mature slower, it is recommended that they are not ridden until they are 4.
You're right, he is pretty easy going. He wants to please, and he acts like a big friendly dog. The breed tends to bond closely with the people in their lives.
I think our groundwork philosphies are similar. Dirk has had a ton of groundwork both inside the round pen and outside. Most of it has been outside. On Saturday we worked primarily in the round pen because that is where I like to take a first ride. This way we can keep him moving in a circle without coming to a square corner.
Forward movement can be an issue with Friesians. They are not buckers at all. The breed is somewhat lazy, and it can be hard to get them out of first gear. Dirk moves better than most that I've seen. He is also quite a bit smoother than my wife's mare (broke her 5 years ago).
I agree about the onlookers. Most of them have a vision of horsebreaking that they've learned on TV and through movies. I'm too old to take a hard fall anymore, so I'm a nut about groundwork and preparation. The onlookers on Saturday were somewhat disappointed that he didn't buck at all. You're right about the anti-climax thought. If the groundwork is done gently with logical progression, the actual first ride is somewhat anti climactic.