The Friesian Breed
History Of The Friesian Horse
The Friesian horse is one of Europe’s oldest breeds. It was developed in Friesland, a northern province of the Netherlands. Where a heavy horse has existed as far back as 1000 B.C.
The Romans used these horses and brought some to Britain, where they have influenced some of our native breeds such as the Fell, Dales and Shire. Because of their courageous nature and great strength the Friesian horse was used in medieval times to carry Knights into battle.
In the 17th century as the need for heavy war horses finished, Andalusian blood was introduced to lighten the breed, making it more suitable for carriage work. In the early part of the 20th century the friesian almost became extinct, until fuel rationing during world war II caused people to turn to the horse once more as a means of transport.
Today Friesians are very popular as driving horses, dressage, showing and general riding.
The Friesian is well known for it’s black coat with a long, thick mane and tail and plenty of feather. For purebred registration most official registries will only allow a small white star or a few white hairs on the forehead. Unknown to many people occasionally a chestnut Friesian is born but this is very rare.
Friesians are compact with strong well muscled bodies and good bone. Their head is set high and proud on a long arched neck. The breed is admired for both a high stepping and extended trot. The Friesian breed today has two distinct conformation types. The most popular is the “modern” type which tend to be taller, finer boned and all together more of a sport horse. The second type is the “baroque” which has become less popular thus making them increasingly difficult to come by. The baroque type is the more traditional style which tend to be shorter, more robust and have more feather.
I would say that the average height of the Friesian today is around 16hh, this can vary from 14.2hh (1.5m) to 17hh (1.70m), although it is becoming increasingly difficult to find Friesian’s under 15.1hh.
Gentle, docile, affectionate are just a few ways to describe the Friesian horses temperament. It is said that the Friesian is unique in the way it develops a great bond with it’s handler. They are also willing workers and make perfect family friends.
The Friesian horse is a noble and elegant breed with great presence!