Ovidija  Jukoniene
by on December 27, 2022

Friesian Horse

The Friesian horse is a large and muscular horse, however its powerful appearance belies an agile equine with a docile and gentle temperament. Originating from Friesland in the Netherlands, the Friesian is also known as a ‘Frizian’, and despite an historic risk of extinction, the breed remains popular in its home country for both leisure and competition riding. 

Over the years, the Friesian has been used as a warhorse carrying knights into battle, as well as an agricultural work horse, and even in the circus during the 20th century. However today, they are more often used for recreational purposes; while their striking appearance and calm demeanour has made them a popular choice for film and TV.  

Considered to be a warm blooded horse breed, there are two distinct conformation types: the baroque Friesian, with a larger build; and the Friesian sport horse, which has a more lean, fine-boned appearance.

Friesian Horse History

The Friesian horse originates from Friesland in the Netherlands: a province with a rich equine history. It is said that Medieval knights once chose Friesian horses as their steed for war, while anecdotal evidence suggests that Friesian troops were riding their own horses into battle as early as the 4th century. 

Over the years, evolving requirements have changed the characteristics of the Friesian horse, and Friesian stock has been mated with a number of other breeds including Andalusian horses. This lighter Andalusian Friesian cross was popular during the 16th and 17th centuries, however the late 1800s saw a return in focus to pureblood stock.

While the Friesian may have a long reaching history, it wasn’t until 1879 that a studbook society was founded by Friesian farmers and landowners, followed in 1880 by the publishing of a horse stud book. 

Around this time, purebred Friesian horses were in very short supply – due in part to the rise in popularity of fellow Dutch horse breed, the Bovenlander. Combined with the rise in use of machinery rather than horses in agriculture and industry, by the early 1900s, there were just three breeding stallions of the Friesian breed remaining.

Numbers recovered throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and today Friesians make up around 7% of the horses in the Netherlands. They are now ridden for both leisure and competition, and are known for their impressive, powerful stature and glossy jet black coat.

Post in: Education
Topics: horse
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