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Friesians are truly a majestic breed of horse with some interesting facts. Their stunning black coats, long flowing manes and tails, gorgeous feathers, and elegant carriage make them a sight to behold.
Featured photo is by Lori Ann Thwing from Moments By Lori Ann. The Horse is called Bene 476 Sport
They have a powerful yet graceful build that makes them stars in the show ring. Though they resemble a light draft horse, they are athletic, stylish, and agile. Friesians are well known for their animation and often exhibit a beautiful high-stepping trot.
Whether for show or pleasure, Friesians are rockstars. Included in our list of long-haired horse breeds, their charismatic personalities and stunning looks make them one of the most beautiful breeds of horses.
Here are 8 interesting facts about Friesians:
Friesians are an Ancient Horse Breed
Tracing all the way back to the 13th century, Friesians are one of the oldest breeds from Europe. They were used across Europe, as they were a desirable horse to have.
A favorite among royalty, it is said that Hungarian King Louis II rode a Friesian into battle against the Turks in 1526.
They continued to be loved throughout Europe and were even used in riding schools in Paris and Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. As early as the 1600s, they were even brought over to America by Dutch settlers.
Friesians are Native to The Netherlands
Originating from the Netherlands, the Fresian horse got its namesake from the northern province of Friesland. From the beginning, the Dutch have cherished this beloved breed.
Another interesting Friesian horse fact is that Dutch farmers even created the Friesian stud registry book in 1879 to preserve the breed.
Today, they are still a large part of Dutch culture, as there are many shows and festivals featuring them.
Friesians Have Their Own Unique Carriage
The Friesian Sjees is a beautifully crafted carriage that was specifically designed for the Friesian breed in the 18th century. The name is derived from “chaise” which is the French word for chair, implying a chair on wheels.
Sjees can be driven by one or two Friesians, with every carriage being unique. Sjees are still used today at shows and festivals.
Traditional 18th-century attire is often worn, with a man sitting on the left to drive with a lady on his right.
Sjees are so special that they even have their own registration. In order to be admitted, a Sjees must have 26 measurements taken before registering.
Not All Friesians Are Black
Friesians are well known for their beautiful all black coats, manes and tails. However, black actually isn’t the only color they can come in.
Though rare, there are chestnut Friesians. If a Friesian stallion is chestnut or carries the chestnut gene, they can’t be registered, as some people do not find the trait desirable. However, there is a special registry for chestnuts called the Fire Friesian Book.
They Have Likely Influenced Other Horse Breeds
The Friesian breed has played an important role in the development of many other horse breeds. They were frequently exported and often bred with other horses because of their suppleness and agility.
Today, it is said that the Friesian has helped develop breeds like the Shire, Clydesdale, Fell, Dale, and Oldenburg. Many believe that they also played a part in the development of the Morgan horse.
Friesians Are Known For Their Versatility
Friesians excel at many different horse riding disciplines. They are praised for their versatility both in and out of the show ring.
They show in hunt seat, saddle seat, dressage, and western divisions. In addition to riding, they are wonderful driving horses. They often compete in pleasure, carriage, and even combined driving events.
In addition to showing, they also make great pleasure mounts and even parade horses. If you ever watch the Rose Bowl parade, there’s a good chance you’ll see some Friesians make an appearance.
Friesians Almost Became Extinct
Unfortunately at one point the beloved Friesian almost went extinct. After the decrease of horses because of the use of farm machinery and cars, the number of Friesians dipped dangerously low.
Prior to World War I, there was a time where only three stallions were left. However, thanks to some caring Friesian enthusiasts, the breed was saved. Oldenburgs horses were helped to bring their numbers back. Though still rare today, they can be found throughout the world.
Read our article on rare horse breeds to find which horse breeds are at risk of going extinct.
Trotting Races Are Part of Their History
In the 18th and 19th century Friesian trotting races became a popular event in the Netherlands. Horses would compete against one another at a trot over a distance of 325 meters.
During these well-loved races, Friesians were often ridden in just an orange blanket. They would race for a treasured silver or golden whip prize.
Though they started as riding races, they later included harness races as well. Some trotting competitions are even still held today.
We hope you enjoyed our list of Friesian horse facts. Don’t forget to check out our other fun horse articles.