It is believed that in the middle ages the Friesian horses were used as war horses throughout Europe. Their reputation as good weight carriers meant they could carry knights with their armour.
During the 17th century the breed became highly sought after as carriage horses and for classical riding. They proved themselves to be excellent trotters. In the 19th century trotting races became popular in the Netherlands and the breed excelled.
As the breed became finer it was less useful in agriculture and the breed began to decline in numbers. In 1913 there were only 3 stallions (in the studbook). More power was added to the breed so that they could again be useful on farms - this saved the breed, for the time being.
However, in the 1960's increased mechanisation on farms meant numbers fell again, 500 mares were on the register in 1965. Luckily the breed lends itself to pleasure riding - and this is what saved them.
The Friesian is thought to be the foundation breed for the Shire horse and the Fell pony.
Height: 15hh to 17hh
Colour: Jet black, no white markings
Conformation: Bright, alert head with small ears. A relatively long, arched and muscular neck with strong shoulders. The back is short and strong and the quarters powerful. Legs are good and clean with hard feet, the heels are feathered. The mane and tail is thick and silky.
Temperament: Kind nature, willing and easy to handle.
Used in the saddle and under harness. Ideal pleasure horses and for dressage.
Friesian Horse Association of Great Britain & Ireland Website: http://fhagbi.co.uk/index.html
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