- Painted black To be registered, the Friesian must be black with no white markings. Minimal white hairs may be present on the forehand but are considered undesirable. Rarely, chestnuts are born. This only ever happens where both the parents are carriers of the recessive chestnut gene.
- A knight’s tale The Friesian’s ancestors were called destriers and carried medieval knights into battle.
- Queen’s horses All Dutch-registered Friesians are registered to the Queen of Holland.
- Friesians of Friesland The breed developed in Friesland, which is an island off the coast of the Netherlands. There is evidence that Friesian horses may have existed as far back as 1000BC.
- The long and the short of it… The Friesian’s average height is 15.3hh but they can vary between 14.2 and 17 hands.
- Fabulous feathers A long, thick, flowing mane and tail are part of the Friesian’s signature look. Sometimes their hair is even curly. Thick hair or feathering on the fetlock area of the lower leg is also one of the main breed characteristics.
- I like to move it The Friesian has a powerful presence, good bone structure, a long, arched neck, outstanding crest and a well-chiselled, short-eared, ‘Spanish-type’ head. Their sloping shoulders are powerful and their bodies are compact and muscular. Limbs are comparatively short and strong with a high-stepping knee action and energetic hindquarters. Friesians trot with extreme power and action – steps are high and long with lot of ‘air time’. The walk is straight, forward and springy, while the canter is lively with a strong pushing power from the hindquarters.
- Water babies Friesland is surrounded by water, and Friesians are by nature water babies. Be careful riding in rivers – you may go swimming!
- Tough stuff Friesians are thick-skinned and have a very high pain tolerance. If your Friesian shows that he is sore, take him seriously.
- All in a name Some popular crosses include Friesian crossed with Percheron, with Morgans (called Moriesians), with Andalusians (called Warlanders), with Saddlebreds (called Georgian Grand), with Tennessee Walkers (called Friewalker) as well as with Arabians, Paints, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods.
Text: Mandy Schröder, Photography: Tamara Didenko, Mandy Schröder, DressageAfrica,
This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of HQPony magazine. For subscription details visitCoolmags.com