Friesian breed information
Friesian horse general information
COLORBlack is traditional color for this breed of horse
WEIGHTAverage weight is from 1300-1600 lbs (590-730kg)
LIFE EXPECTANCYAverage life span is from 20 to 35 years
ORIGINThe Friesian is an old breed of horse dating from the Middle Ages. Its location of origin is Friesland in the northern Netherlands. The breed nearly died out before World War I and has since been revived as a fine carriage horse. The horse is now being exported to other countries and its popularity is growing.
USESOther then regular riding horse, Friesians are used as driving and as a circus horse. They are used for dressage and agriculture work.
INFLUENCEThe Friesian horse has been influenced by eastern bloodlines and has often been threatened with extinction.
TEMPRERAMENTFriesian Horses are companionable, willing, hard-working and sensitive. They are also intelligent and quick learners.
The Friesian horse has a long head, strong body, full mane and thick tail. Friesians are powerfully muscled with agile with elegant movement. They are always black but can have a small white star on the forehead.
The breed has powerful overall conformation and good bone structure, with what is sometimes called a "Baroque" body type. Friesians have long, arched necks and well-chiseled, short-eared, "Spanish type" heads. Their sloping shoulders are quite powerful. They have compact, muscular bodies with strong sloping hindquarters and a low-set tail. Their limbs are comparatively short and strong. To be accepted as breeding stock in the FPS studbook, a stallion must pass a rigorous approval process.
The Friesian horse descends from the Equus robustus. During the 16th and 17th centuries, but probably also earlier, Arabian blood was introduced, especially through Andalusian horses from Spain. This has given them the high knee-action, the small head and the craning neck.
Because of his temperament the Friesian horse is considered warm blooded. The Friesian horse has been kept free from influence of the English Thoroughbred. During the last two centuries it has been bred pure. Breeding horses and dealing in them was very important for the Friesians. The monks in the many monasteries in Friesland before the reformation did a lot of horse breeding. Through the centuries the Friesian Government has made many regulations in order to safeguard good breeding.
Armored knights of old found this horse very desirable, having the strength to carry great weight into battle and still maneuver quickly. Later, its suppleness and agility made the breed much sought after for use in riding schools in Paris and Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries. Before an elegant carriage this breed has few rivals, and throughout Europe the royal courts used them as coach horses.
Friesian health and genetic issues
Friesians are somewhat prone to a disease called Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) simply due to their size. OCD is a disease found in young, rapidly growing horses who will mature to be over 15 hands. It occurs when cartilage at the end of growing bones breaks down instead of turning into bone as it should. As a result of the break-down, small pieces of cartilage may break off and harden into bone cysts, causing inflammation and pain in the joint. Treatment includes joint injections and rest, and surgery is possible.
Dwarfism is a genetic disorder that can affect any breed and occurs the most in pony breeds, but is present in the Friesian breed. The disorder causes the body to be severely disproportionate and it is debilitating.