The Friesian Horse

The Friesian Horse – Origins, Characteristics and Use

Often admired due to their stunning appearance, these horses are one of the most appreciated European breeds. Their origins, characteristics and various choices of use have claimed their status throughout history.

This horse breed first emerged from the Friesland of the Netherlands. Due to their strong conformation, they were used to carry knights to battle. Their desirable looks were also used in breeding Clydesdale and Shire horses along with Dales and Fell ponies to what they are today.

The breed itself went through some changes when it was cross-bred with Andalusian horses. The aim of this alteration was to develop a lighter version of the original Friesian. As a result, Friesians can often be divided to two groups according to their body type.

During the 18th and 19th century, Friesian horses were often used in trotting races. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, they were also used in farm work as their strong shoulders were ideal in ploughing and pulling carriages.

Today these horses are used in numerous ways. They are still popular in carriage driving and are also ridden in dressage and showing competitions. Due to their looks, they have been used in circus shows and often feature in films and television.

Apart from their black coat, Friesians have many more distinct qualities. Their mane and tail should be long and wavy and as with Shire horses, their legs have ‘feather” socks. They usually do not have any white markings.

Due to their selective breeding, Friesian can be of a baroque type heavy build or have a more modern, finer bone structure. Their temperature is willing and energetic making them excellent horses for several purposes.

Buyers looking to purchase a Friesian should be careful of possible frauds. In recent years there have been cases of people importing “look a like” Friesian which do not meet the high standards of the pure bred Friesians. Some of these horses have later developed health problems or have not got the pleasant temperament of the original Friesian. As with any other breed, it is vital to check the horse’s background and demand a thorough veterinary examination.

Friesian horses are packed with good characteristics which allow them to be used for numerous different events and occasions. Their excellent heritage and origins ensure that apart from riding or driving, these horses are an excellent investment for any breeder.

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