The Friesian Horse: The famous black pearl of Friesland

History of the Friesian Horse

The origin of the Frisian goes back many centuries. Even at the beginning of our era there are writings referring to the Friesian horse used in the army. By the way, the Friesian is said to be the ancestor of the pony and the sherry. As we leap forward in time, we see the Friesian appear on many portraits of the Knights in 11The a century. William the Conqueror is said to have also used horses during the Battle of Hastings, with many similarities to the Friesians.

Arab and Andalusian blood

Later, the Friesian breed may have been crossed with Arabian and Andalusian horses. One of the most famous stallions in history is the Phryso stallion, Don Juan’s stallion from Austria. Depicted on an engraving from 1568. In 17The In the last century, the Frisian participated in many riding schools, practicing Hogeschool der Rijkunst. His talent for taming was already recognized at that time.

Friesian horse decay

However, a period of decline slowly began to appear for the Friesian horse. end 19The In the last century, we find mainly Friesians in Friesland, where farmers use the horse as a sign of prosperity when they go to church. However, this “luxury dancing horse” in front of the cart is not strong enough to put it in front of the plow. Other heavy horse breeds are more suitable for this. The Frisians had to give way or were crossed with other horse breeds; It could have killed the breed.

turning tide

In 1913, only three stallions were available for breeding! Thanks to the unbridled efforts of the supporters of the dynasty, the tide turned. The breed became stronger, heavier, and smaller to rival the heavier farm horses.

agricultural mechanization

However, it could have gotten worse after that. In the 1960s, agriculture became mechanized and horses became obsolete. Once again, the breed was saved, thanks to few who confirmed the traits of the Friesian.

Popular Friesian Horse

Since that time, the Friesian horse has become very popular. And the Friesian horse is no longer only found in Friesland. The KFPS is popular with riders with a recreational goal, and drivers also like to ride in seat belts. Over 70,000 horses have been registered in over 75 countries!

Friesian and warm blood or cold?

There is a great deal of discussion on this topic. Is the Friesian warm or cold-blooded? Their recent past in the agricultural industry and their heavy backgrounds often make people suspicious. However there is no doubt. The Frisian is warm-blooded.

Friesian character

In the turbulent history of the Frisian, there have always been people who defended the breed. Therefore the Friesian is a friendly horse that can attract many enthusiasts. They are known for being smart, people oriented, loyal and ready to work. It also has a great head, which makes it particularly suitable for outdoor riding and as a family horse.

Pictured: Robin Karnas

Various properties

The Friesian has a small, noble head with rather small ears. His eyes are large and clear and his neck is very straight. The Friesian is distinguished by its thick hair on the legs, tail and lower legs (socks). Cornices have a rectangular model and preferably not too heavy. Back, loin and crotch muscles.

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Friesian horse movement

In terms of movement, the Friesian has a lot of shoulder freedom and prefers a strong back leg well placed under his mass. The Friesian has a long hanging moment at the trot and canter. They rise off the ground with a high neck, and the front leg often shows a lot of knee movement and grip wide forward.

Photo: San Wearing

Black Color

Black Friesian. Three shades of black are allowed within the genealogy book: jet black with a shiny like dark metallic, carbon black with ring-shaped patterns, and faded black with a ruddy glow. So never say black vs black! A small white mark above the eye line is allowed up to a maximum of about 3 cm, but is not preferred. Marks on the rest of the body are absolutely out of the question. The ancestor of the present-day Friesian horse was already in existence in the late Middle Ages, and this is also evidenced, for example, by paintings showing long-legged horses and a lot of wallpaper. While today we only know black Friesian, we also see brown and even gray Friesian in those days. Black has been a favorite for a long time. You can hardly find other colors now. Marks on the head and legs are also undesirable on the current Friesian horse. Since 1904, the Friesian Horse has been approved in three shades of black: pale black, charcoal black and jet black. That was also when brown was no longer recognized. Dull black hair easily changes to a dark red glow in summer, which is enhanced by sweating on the job. Carbon black is pure black and you often see apples on the skin of this type of horse. Jet black horses don’t have it, but it does have a beautiful dark metallic sheen.

delayed horse maturation

The Friesian is often a late-ripening horse. The Friesian does not fully grow until about the age of five. Keep this in mind when driving. Take it easy for the first few years and let your horse grow adequately. After all, the Friesians are also ready to work, so they hardly indicate that some work is too heavy for them. As an owner you have to handle this wisely.

Photo: San Wearing

Health of the Friesian Horse

The Frisian also struggles with a number of health risks. For example, dwarfism and hydrocephalus are more common. Friesian also refers to some skin problems and most often hypersensitivity to insect bites. Meanwhile, aortic ruptures (i.e. aortic ruptures) are also known to be more common in Friesians than in other breeds. Extensive research is now being conducted on this topic. Because of the heavy wallpaper on the bottoms of the legs (socks), they are also more at risk from mugs and moths. Socks are difficult to keep dry, providing a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. It is important to take care of the socks and check them regularly to avoid problems.

KFPS Studio

The Royal Society’s “Book of the Friesian Horse Stud” (KFPS) is the oldest horse book in the Netherlands, established in 1879. The KFPS has run Friesian horse interests since that date. They also conduct a breeding program to preserve and improve the unique characteristics of the Friesian horse. It is an international book. Foreign-born Frisians can be registered in the genealogical registry through local associations (affiliated with the KFPS). Friesian horses are checked by members of the jury who have been trained by KFPS. You can read in detail how such a check is carried out on a stallion and mare on the KFPS website at

naming of Friesian horses

Most Friesian horses get their true traditional Friesian first names from their owners. It’s not a commitment, but it is appreciated by KFPS. Some stables add another suffix indicating the stability of the original. The Frisian study book also uses one letter each year.

Frisian Arabian horses

In addition to the Frisians, there are also Arab Frisians. This is a relatively small breeding farm, which has only been officially recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture since 2006 and has been standardized in a separate book, EAFS, the Arab-European Frisian genealogy book. The name also leaves little to the imagination. This is a cross between an Arab and a Friesian. Not exceptionally expressive, because it is at the beginning of the history of Frisian (see original)There has already been a crossover with the Arabian horse. The purpose of the cross is to breed horses that combine the endurance of the Arabian horse, willingness to work and the friendly nature of the Friesian. In this way, Arabo-Frisians are able to perform well in multiple sports disciplines, such as dressage and driving. Certainly in leadership, stamina was absolutely necessary to compete with the hot-blooded.

Baroque Pinto – Photo: Karen De Han

Baroque Pinto

Another special crossing is Baroque Pinto. This breed contains at least 37.5% of Friesian blood and was created by crossbreeding a warm-blooded variety. Anyone interested in the story of Bonte Nico, founder of Barock Pinto, can visit the Horse Writers Association website: Whatever the case, the Barock Pinto distinguishes itself, just like the Friesian, with its generous wallpaper and very high walkways. Unlike the Friesian, it has a yellowish-black color. Just like the Arabo-Frisians, the breeding goal here too is to breed sporty, multifunctional horses that perform well in the competition arena.

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Friesian horses in dressage

Their findings demonstrate that Friesian horses are increasingly involved in dressage. For example, the stallion Adel 357 of the Belgian dressage rider Peter Spahn was an absolute phenomenon at the time. He participated in the International Grand Prix and the jockey and horse were very successful. Then Spahn did this again with Adel’s son, Anders 451. We’ve also found Frisians who have performed well in the recent past. For example, cyclist Dana Van Lierop rode a mini tour with Johnny Cash (by Tsjalle 454) until the stallion was sold overseas. (know more: van Es is also a lyricist of the Friesian stallion Tizian fan Ass and is steadily working towards the Grand Prix ( to teach him) ). Lots of examples.

Photo: San Wearing

Friesian horses in the sport of driving

The Friesian is discussed frequently in the horse magazine Mensport. For example, recently an article appeared on Cor van der Sluis, who talks about his master the Friesian eunuch. Curious what he would say about it? You can read at


The Royal Society “The Friesian Horse Studbook” (KFPS):

Rare Pets Living Heritage Foundation:

Studbook for Baroque Pinto:

The Arab Frisian Book:

Text: Isabel Hussey

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