friesian horse breed

The Ultimate Guide To The Friesian Horse Breed

The Friesian Horse, known for its glossy black coat, flowing mane, and tail that dances with the wind, has captured the hearts of equestrians worldwide.

We’re going to explore the unique characteristics, rich history, and allure of this breed.

The History Of The Friesian Horse Breed

Friesian Horses are one of Europe’s most ancient equine breeds. The Friesian Horse originates from the province of Friesland in what is now known as Holland. These magnificent horses have a lineage dating as far back as 500 BC.

Over the years, careful breeding and the infusion of different bloodlines, including Arabian and Andalusian horses, have shaped the Friesian into the remarkable breed we admire today.

Friesian Horses were highly esteemed by the agricultural community of Friesland, and their popularity soon spread across Europe.

Friesian Horse Temperament

The charm of Friesian Horses extends beyond their stunning looks. They are renowned for their even-tempered nature and trainability.

Their calm and composed demeanour makes them a pleasure to work with and train. In fact, their inherent bravery, demonstrated through their role as exceptional warhorses, speaks volumes about their remarkable character.

Not only do Friesian Horses possess a gentle disposition, but they also exhibit an impressive capacity for learning. Their intelligence and willingness to adapt are exemplified by their appearances in many films and TV shows.

Friesian Horses have proven time and again their ability to be handled by different individuals. And so, they highlight their versatility and cooperative spirit.

Original And Modern Uses

These horses were originally harnessed as powerful workhorses. The robust physique of the Friesian Horse breed made it indispensable for labour-intensive tasks such as pulling wagons and ploughs.

As time went on, their strength and agility caught the attention of noble knights, and Friesian stallions served as impressive cavalry mounts on the battlefield.

Due to their aura of wealth and nobility, the Friesian breed became sought after by the aristocracy. Wealthy Friesian Horse owners would use them as coach horses and riding horses.

Adorned with their iconic black coats, flowing manes, and enchanting feathers, they became symbols of prestige and grandeur. Their versatility soon extended beyond borders, captivating hearts in faraway lands like Spain and France.

Today, Friesian Horses continue to be popular. The modern Friesian Horse is esteemed in the dressage arena – showcasing their elegance and natural talent in both classical and modern disciplines.

Yet, they also embrace the tranquil realm of trail riding. Their serene nature and unwavering strength make them ideal companions for scenic adventures.

In the world of carriage driving, Friesians command attention. They participate in thrilling pacing races and carriage driving competitions.

Plus, their cinematic allure has seen them grace the silver screen. They often appear in historical dramas and embark on mythical quests, dazzling audiences with their graceful demeanour.

Friesian Horse Colours And Markings

Why Friesian Horses rock the all-black look

When it comes to Friesian Horses, their iconic black coats are no accident. Over the course of centuries, diligent breeders have invested time and effort into carefully selecting and refining these beautiful horses.

The aim?

To create the purest warmblood horses with matching black coats.

In fact, registering a Friesian Horse with an association requires the submission of DNA samples and pedigree records. It is to ensure the integrity of this distinctive horse breed.

The Black Homozygous Gene

To maintain the striking black coat for generations to come, registered Friesian stallions designated for breeding must undergo DNA testing.

This process ensures that they possess a black homozygous gene, which guarantees their offspring will inherit the same luscious black hue.

Stallions lacking this gene can’t become breeding stallions within the official registered Friesian bloodline.

White markings

As you can see, Friesian Horse registration is rather strict!

Because of this, it’s unlikely for a true registered Friesian to display any white markings or coat patterns.

But there is one exception.

A white star on the forehead is permitted. Any other white markings such as socks or a blaze on the face would disqualify the horse from being registered.

Despite being purebred this Friesian could not be regisered due to it’s white blaze and hooves

The Fox Friesians

During a particular era, some Friesian foals surprised breeders with their red coats – earning them the endearing nickname ‘Fox Friesians’.

These unique horses emerged when both the dam and sire shared a red heterozygous gene.

Although this was clearly very cute, breeders wanted to make sure that future Friesians kept their beautiful black coats. That’s why DNA testing was introduced to the Friesian Horse breeding process.

How Tall Are Friesian Horses?

The classical Baroque Friesian usually reaches a mature height of around 16 hands, but some Friesian mares and geldings can be as tall as 17 hands.

This size, coupled with their robust physique, gives them the perfect combination of strength and elegance.

It’s no wonder they were sought after as cavalry mounts and warhorses!

Friesian Horse Health Issues

Friesian Horses have a genetic makeup that predisposes them to several genetic disorders. This is potentially a result of excessive inbreeding.

They’re prone to conditions such as dwarfism, hydrocephalus (a brain condition marked by fluid build-up), aortic rupture, and megaoesophagus.

Unfortunately, these gorgeous horses are also susceptible to certain digestive disorders and skin conditions.

If you own a Friesian, it’s important that you have a tailored skincare routine for your equine pal. This will help to alleviate any skin conditions they may have.

Friesian Horse Lifespan

As Friesian Horses have evolved under the watchful eyes of breeders, their unique characteristics have been carefully cultivated.

Yet, this focus on maintaining their distinct heritage may have unintentionally contributed to their comparatively shorter lifespans.

The average horse has a lifespan of around 30 years but Friesians only live for between 16 to 20 years.

The exclusion of outside bloodlines, aimed at preserving the breed’s integrity, has led to this short lifespan.

Sadly, it’s the price owners pay for such a magnificent horse.

Diet And Nutrition

Friesians aren’t known to be fussy eaters. In fact, they don’t have huge appetites and are happy to eat grain, quality hay, fruits, and vegetables.

To keep their coat nice and glossy, you should also include good sources of fat in their diet – and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and supplements.

Make sure that you don’t overfeed them as they can put on weight fairly easily.

However, if your Friesian is used for racing then it’ll need a few more calories than the average horse.


Daily grooming is essential for Friesians, to maintain both their health and beauty. They have dry skin and are prone to rashes, requiring regular care and attention.

The long hair on their lower legs, known as feathers, also needs to be washed regularly to keep them looking spick and span.

A good way of enhancing the appearance of your Friesian’s coat is to use a colour-enhancing shampoo formulated for dry skin. This will give their coat a delightful shine and also nourish their skin.

You should view your grooming routine as a way of bonding with your horse. Your Friesian will enjoy the care and attention, and you’ll be closer than ever!


Are Friesian Horses good for beginners?

A Friesian could be a great choice for someone who’s just started riding horses. They’re calm and well-mannered, and they’re not easily spooked. So, if you’re a beginner that wants a horse for trail riding – the Friesian Horse could be ideal for you.

Are Friesian Horses loyal?

Friesian Horses are willing to please and are very gentle. They love people and display great character and loyalty. If you’re looking for an equine companion who will always be by your side, then look no further than the Friesian.

What films have Friesians been in?

Friesian Horses have appeared in many different films and TV shows over the years. Some of the most famous films include 300, Clash of the Titans, Interview with a Vampire, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Sense and Sensibility.

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