Horse Breeds of the Netherlands

The Friesian

The Friesian is one of the oldest breeds in Europe and much in demand in the Middle Ages as a war horse. During the time of the Crusades, oriental and Andalusian blood was introduced into the Friesian which had descended from local primitive horses. The Friesian had a hand in the formation of the German Oldenburg. Just prior to the First World War, the Friesian horse population had dwindled to three stallions and a few mares. Careful crossing with the Oldenburg restored the Friesian and it has now spread throughout the world. It has influenced most of the world's trotting breeds.

Friesian StallionCredit:

It is much-loved in its native Netherlands. The area of Friesian also gave rise to the Friesian (Holstein) cow and the Friesan sheep renowned for its milk-producing qualities. It is one of the old, original Haute Ecole breeds with a showy action and remarkable trotting ability, making it highly respected as a harness horse. The Friesian, along with the Andalusian, Lusitano and Lipizzaner were favoured by the royal families of Europe for their type and bearing.

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The Friesland province of Holland lies on the coast. The Friesian's old name of Harddraver means 'good trotter'. It is a light to mediumweight horse with a proud yet gentle bearing. Most are quite tractable whilst at the same time energetic and enthusiastic. It is hardy and a good all-rounder with its showy paces, especially at the trot, giving it great 'look-at-me' quality.

Friesian HeadCredit:

The Friesian has a compact build and superb bearing. It stands around 15hh at the withers. It is always black with (rarely) small white markings on the head. The head is long and narrow with a straight profile, full forelock and short pointed ears. The neck is quite strong but well arched, withers broad and not very prominent, back straight and short. The loins are broad and the croup muscular and sloping. The tail is full and the chest deep and wide. The shoulder is long and sloping. The legs are muscular with broad joints and some feather below the knees and hocks. The feet are large and strong. The mane and tail are profuse, thick and often wavy.

Friesians have become popular in TV and film wherever flashy action and beauty is needed in a mount.

Breeds as diverse as the clydesdale, shire, hackney, Swedish warmblood, Dole-Gudbrandsdal and Frederiksborg all have infusions of Friesian in their bloodlines.

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