Breeds of Horses - A to Z
One of oldest breeds in Europe taking its name from Friesland in the north
of the Netherlands, where a heavy horse existed as far back as 1000 BC. This
horse has been a significant influence on several other breeds, in
particular Gt Britain's Fell pony and Dales pony and in Germany the
Andalusian blood was introduced during the Eighty Years War when Spain
occupied the Netherlands. During the seventeenth century the Friesian became
popular, as it was suited not only to working the land in harness but also
as an active weight carrying horse under saddle. The Friesians high stepping
action and ability to trot at speed increased its popularity during the
nineteenth century when trotting races became the fashion. To further
improve the speed of the Friesian for these races, it was crossed with other
trotters. This produced a lighter, less useful farm horse and resulted in
the breed going into a decline between World War 1 and World War 11.
The breed was revived at the beginning of the Second World War with the aid
of imported Oldenburg stallions. Farmers once again used the horses for
draught work, as there were fuel shortages.
Today the breed is flourishing as a very attractive all rounder. The sweet
temperament and active paces make it an extremely successful show horse and
carriage horse. It stands at between 15 and 16h.h. and it is always black
with no white markings. It has a fine attractive head with alert ears and
bright eyes; the neck is arched with a long flowing mane; powerful, sloping
shoulders; a short, strong back; compact body; strong muscular hindquarters
with a fairly low set, thick, flowing tail; the limbs are short and strong
with good bone and some feather on the fetlocks; good, sound, hard feet.
The Friesian is an exceptionally attractive little horse, noted for its good
conformation and kind disposition.