Breed Organization The Friesian Horse Association of North America FHANA Website: http://www.fhana.com Native Country Netherlands Other Names N/A Average Height ------------ Adult Weight ------------ Rider Experience Level ------------
Breed Description To maintain the integrity of the breed, the Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA) working in concert with the original parent
organization, the Friesch Paarden Stamboek in the Netherlands strictly regulates the registration of the Friesian Horse. The FPS is the
registry for the Friesian horse worldwide. The registry was founded in 1879 and today's Dutch registered horses are the result of over a
century of rigorous evaluation and selection of breeding stock. Organizations from other countries may also register Friesian horses, but
horses registered with those organizations may not have met the standards of the FPS and therefore the true Dutch Friesian registry cannot
recognize the horses. The Friesian Horse Association of North America cannot recognize a horse whose papers are not issued by the Friesch
Friesian Horses are always black. White markings are not allowed on the body or legs. They have a long, thick, flowing mane and
tail and pronounced fetlock hair. Under no circumstance is it permissible to dock the tail of a Friesian and, in fact, trimming
of any hair from mane, tail or legs is frowned upon.
The Friesian Horse holds it head high and proud with an arching neck.
The animated gait is natural. Selective breeding is used to achieve the active hock action and high, extended from leg action.
The body is strong and deep with a sloping shoulder. The rear quarters are sloping with a somewhat low-set tail. Registered Friesian
stallions must be at least 15.3 hands by the age of four and mares must be at least 14.3 hands. The mares average about 1300 lbs.,
more for males.
History The Friesian Horse originated in Friesland, one of twelve provinces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Holland), situated in the
northwest of Europe. Friesland is an old country dating to 500 B.C., when the Friesians settled along the cost of the North Sea.
They were tradesmen, seafarers, farmers and horse breeders.
The Friesian horse descends from the Equus robustus. During
the 16th and 17th centuries, but probably also earlier, Arabian blood was introduced, especially through Andalusian horses from
Spain. This has given them the high knee-action, the small head and the craning neck.
Behavior Because of his temperament the Friesian
horse is considered warm blooded. The Friesian horse has been kept free from influence of the English Thoroughbred. During the
last two centuries it has been bred pure. Breeding horses and dealing in them was very important for the Friesians. The monks in
the many monasteries in Friesland before the reformation did a lot of horse breeding. Through the centuries the Friesian
Government has made many regulations in order to safeguard good breeding. Now the Dutch Horselaw of 1939 (modified) gives rules
for studbook and breeding.
From records of the past we know that the Friesian horse of old was famous. There is
information from as early as 1251 and there are books in which Friesian horses were mentioned and praised from as early as the
Armored knights of old found this horse very desirable, having the strength to carry great weight into
battle and still maneuver quickly. Later, its suppleness and agility made the breed much sought after for use in riding schools
in Paris and Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries. Before an elegant carriage this breed has few rivals, and throughout
Europe the royal courts used them as coach horses.
An excellent trotter, the Friesian was used for racing short distances
in Holland, the winners being awarded silver or golden whips. Today in Friesland there are may carriage events and often the sjees,
the Friesian form of the chaise,are seen. This unique two-wheeled cart may be drawn by one or two horses, and aboard are a gentleman
and a lady dressed in the traditional costumes of the 1880s. The sjees is one of the few carriages in which the driver is seated on
the left; his lady occupies the right-hand side, the place of honor. Four-in-hand carriages are common and as many as ten-in-hand
can be seen in front of light carriages. These large, unusual hitches used for demonstration purposes are becoming very popular. The
Friesian people take great pride in the natural ability of their black horse in harness.
The well-known English writer on
horses, Anthony Dent, and others are of the opinion that the Friesian horse influenced the Old English Black Horse and the Fell Pony.
Dent proposes that the Norwegian Døle (Gudbrandsdal horse), which shows great likeness to the Friesian horse, must have got there from
Friesland either as booty or by regular trade. The Northern Swedish horse was greatly influenced by the Norwegian Døle. Dent also
suggests a Norwegian influence on the English Dale pony. In the Pyrenees in southern France there is a pony "Ariege called after
Merens" (Ariege dit de Merens) that looks remarkably like a small Friesian horse. The resemblance of the types mentioned can be traced
back in some cases to the influence of Friesian horses, in other cases the similar way of breeding will have caused the similarity.
As early as 1625 Friesian horses were being imported into what later would become the United States of America. The Dutch founded New
Amsterdam in the region they discovered in 1609, but they had to abandon it to the English in 1664, when the name was changed to New
York. Advertisements in the papers offer trotters of "Dutch" descent. These must have been Friesian horses. The able writer Jeanne
Mellin proposes in her books The Morgan Horse (1961) and The Morgan Horse Handbook (1973) the possibility that this well-known American
horse is of Friesian descent. The ability to trot fast, the heavy manes, the long rich tail and the fetlocks at the feet of the original
forefather of this breed may be an indication.
The breed was totally lost in North America due to crossbreeding. Tom Hannon
of Canton, Ohio did not reintroduce the horse to North America until 1974. By 1983 the popularity of the Friesian in America had
grown enough to support a national association and a national show.
With the help of the Friesian Studbook Friesian horses
have been imported into Western Germany, Scotland and South Africa (1957-58). The imports into South Africa occurred to improve the
type of horse called the Flemish Horse, imported long ago from Belgium. Nowadays this type of horse is not found in Belgium anymore,
except when imported from Friesland.