Breed Name: Friesian
Typically the majestic Purebred-Friesian is black in color with some variation in hue, adorned with a luxurious forelock, long heavy mane and tail, and conspicuous feathered fetlocks. A small white star is permissible on the forehead. The Purebred Friesian usually takes up to seven years to fully mature as an adult. Its final height can easily range from 15.3 hands to 17.2 hands depending on gender, bloodlines, and type, ranging in adult weight respectively to height from 1100 to 1800 lbs. Currently the average height for an adult is 16.1 hands, with an average weight of 1400 lbs.
At first glance the Purebred Friesian is noted for its alluring beauty, regal presence, and show charisma which have led to the breed’s huge growth in popularity over the past 10 years as a show horse flourishing throughout the United States. The popularity of the Friesian and expansive growth in numbers in competition is due to the breeds notable ability in sport, kind temperament, and a willing heart that knows no boundaries to its rider’s requests. These characteristics make it possible to use the Friesian horse for many applications, such as competitive and pleasure driving, ridden and driven dressage, halter, saddle seat, hunter pleasure and over fences, western pleasure and trail, costume, exhibition and recreational use. The Friesian is, by nature, design of presence and movement, a talented show horse.
Today due to the Friesian’s proven ability to succeed in myriad sports, charismatic presence, intelligence, wonderful temperament and their dedicated ownership, the Purebred Friesian population is now approximately 45,000 Worldwide and 11,000 strong in the US.
The Purebred Friesian originated in Friesland, which is a Provence of the Netherlands. There is evidence that Friesian horse was originally used as a war mount as early as 54 Ad serving in the Roman Legions, and then was seen as the mount of European royalty in the early 1600’s, and favored in the Trotting Races until the 1700’s.
The Friesian horse was introduced to the United States (US) in 1625 into the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, which is now known as New York, and is believed to have influenced a number of breeds developed in the US. It would seem that the Purebred Friesian horse ceased to exist in the US by 1664.
It was not until 1974 that the Purebred Friesian would be re-introduced to North America, at which time the purebred Friesian was mainly used for pleasure and show driving, combined driving events, lower level dressage, as well as recreational riding, parades and exhibitions.
It is believed that the Friesian Horse did not gain momentum and popularity in the U.S. until the 1985 release of the Motion picture “Ladyhawk,” starring Rutger Hauer, a native of Friesland. It is interesting to note at this time there were only 2000 registered purebred Friesians in the World, and less than 100 in the US.
1993 marked the milestone in the US that the Purebred Friesian would be considered a serious open dressage competitor against the finest warmbloods in the country, even though Friesians had been used in Dressage in Europe since 1939. Jelsche “Bold Contender” and rider Hokan Thorn continued a brilliant FEI level career in the US, and ultimately she was long listed for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Proving that Jelsche was not a phenomenon, Jorrit PM ridden by Sabine Schut-Kery placed 6th overall in the USDF All Breeds Grand Prix Musical Freestyle in 2001. In 2005, Goffert 369 placed 31st ridden by Belinda Nain-Wertman, and Tinus PM ridden by Sabine Schut-Kery placed 6th in the USDF All Breeds Grand Prix Musical Freestyle category.
In 2001, the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA), a California non-profit corporation, was created and dedicated to the promotion, showing and exhibition of the Friesian Horse and its derivatives. The sole purpose of IFSHA is to provide a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) -rated show circuit for the Friesian bred horse, to help ensure competitive consistency for exhibitors and competitors, whether amateur or professional, and to give recognition for their accomplishments in breed specific and open competition. In July 2004, IFSHA was listed by the USEF as the “recognized affiliate” for the Friesian bred horse and continues to function as the Friesian Show Circuit Registry giving recognition for outstanding accomplishments in myriad disciplines as well as hosting The Annual IFSHA World and Grand National Championships Friesian Horse Show.
The Friesian’s characteristics make it possible to use the horse for many applications such as competitive and pleasure driving, ridden and driven dressage, halter, saddle seat, hunter pleasure and over fences, western pleasure and trail, costume, exhibition and recreational use. The Friesian is, by nature, design of presence and movement, a talented show horse.??
Dante FQ?– 2008 USEF Horse of Honor
Esteban — 2007 USEF Horse of Honor
Goffert 369 — USDF Grand Prix
Tinus PM — USDF Grand Prix
Breed Association😕 IFSHA, International Friesian Show Horse Association
(Information provided by the U.S. Equestrian Federation?and IFSHA)