During the 16th and 17th centuries there was not a big need for larger breeds in battles like Friesian horses - due to battle armour becoming lighter. They were therefore used for crossbreeding to produce a smaller horse to pull carriages, which nearly exterminated their population. During the 1600s, Friesian horses were imported by the Dutch to the US to help them control the region now known as New York, but due to crossbreeding, the friesian horses died out in this region. In the 18th and 19th centuries Friesian horses became extremely popular mainly for trotting races which would soon be crossbred with other trotting horses to produce lighter and faster trotters for races.
However they were referred to as an inferior standard, so they were no longer used and crossbred at the end of the 19th century. During the turn of the 20th century, many Friesian horses were, once again, crossbred with other breeds to produce faster horses for trotting races. It went so far that only three purebred Friesian horses remained after the crossbreeding. Seeing the deadly outcome of crossbreeding, ia society was established in 1913 referred to as Het Friesch Paard. They were found to protect the breed from going completely extinct. Luckily the World War II brought the Friesian horses back from the edge of extinction as Dutch farmers used them for transportation and fieldwork as there was a shortage of fuel for their tractors and vehicles.
Characteristics of Friesian Horses
- Height: 14.3 to 17 hands high, roughly 4.7ft to 5.6ft
- Color: Black and Chestnut
Friesian horses are typically seen as solid black but sometimes they are born with a chestnut color. Rarely Friesian horses can carry a white spot, however only a small white star on their foreheads can get them disqualified from purebred registration. Only Friesian horses that are black can be registered, however if the pure black horse carries the chestnut gene - then that horse can’t be registered either. In 1990, the Friesian Stallion Stud Book tried to breed out the chestnut color and wanted to test all friesian stallion’s DNA for the gene and a 2014 study showed that there are only eight stallion lines left still carrying the gene. The best way to recognise aFriesian horse is to see if the horse has an arched topline, which is the muscles that support the spine, from neck to hindquarters. Friesian horses also have a good bone structure with long arched necks and carved, short-eared heads. They have strong sloping shoulders with solid muscular bodies with their limbs being moderately short and strong and sloping hindquarters and low-set tails. The Friesian horse’s mane and tail is considerably long, thick and often wavy. They also have long and silky hair around their lower legs that are left untrimmed for show. Friesian horses are known to be graceful and agile given their size and are known to work hard and are agreeable in training. They are believed to be willing, active and energetic with a gentle and obedient side. The Friesian horse is mainly known for a quick high-stepping trot.
How it got its name Friesian
Friesian horses originated from Friesland in The Netherlands and throughout the Early Middle Ages, giving the Friesian horse its name.
Friesian Horses in Dressage
Friesian horses are sometimes used dressage and are highly talented when it comes to collecting, and doing advance movements such as piaff and passage, which is a skilled form of riding performed in competition and can be practiced just for the purpose of mastering its technique. However, Friesian horses were not originally created for dressage. They are mainly used to be cart horses but there are lines where are creating Friesian horses for better riding.
The Friesian Horse Today
Today the friesian horse is known as one of the best carriage horses in the world and are more popular for recreational uses such as dressage as mentioned above. People are also using Friesian horses for both harness and under saddle. Harnesses are used competitively and recreationally for single riders and carriage teams for ceremonial events. Even though Friesian horses faced extinction several times in the past, they are now growing in numbers and popularity. Due to their color, beauty and elegance, Friesian horses are popular breeds for movies and television, mainly for historic and fantasy genres. They are known to be calm with the activity of filmmaking. Friesian horses have been featured in the Zorro films, Ladyhawke, Clash of the Titans, 300, The Chronicles of Narnia, Snow White and the Huntsman, Interview with a Vampire, Hunger Games Catching Fire, Sense and Sensibility, Game of Thrones, Lost and Once Upon a Timeas well as many others.
Well Known Friesian Horse Stallions
Famous Friesian horses
Adel 357 The first Friesian horse who competed in the International Grand Prix Frederik the Great Hailed The Most Beautiful Horse in the World, fascinating the world on his Facebook fan page with over 86,000 followers,with his mane and muscular build Frederik is a rare Friesian horse living in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas His nickname is the “Storybook Stallion” Casey Notably known as Toronado, Zorro’s steed in The Mask of Zorro Ariaan Notably known as Toronado, Zorro’s’ steed in The Legend of Zorro. Othello First Friesian film horse introduced to the USA in the 1985 renaissance film, Ladyhawke.