The Powerful and Elegant Friesian Horse

A Friesian horse tends to have great presence and to carry itself with elegance. The breed is known for a brisk, high-stepping trot.
The Powerful and Elegant Friesian Horse
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The Friesian horse is an equestrian species originating from the Netherlands. Its name is taken from the region it comes from: Friesland. Horse lovers around the world know this breed as the “German warhorse”. They are also very famous in countries like Holland and Belgium.

For those people who enjoy horse shows, the Friesian with its flowing mane and tail and good looks is always a show stopper!

The Friesian horse stands out for its docile temperament. That’s why trainers widely use them in riding schools for training and learning. Today, you can spot this species in equestrian exhibitions and dressage competitions.

Origins of the Friesian horse

The history of the Friesian horse is a complex one, as its origins go back thousands of years. It has performed many kinds of activities, though it first started working as a battle horse around 150 AD. However, the first graphic record dates from 1568, captured in a portrait of John of Austria, riding on the back of a horse of this breed.

During the 17th century, the Friesian horse would train in equestrian schools together with other Purebred Spanish horses. It’s suspected that at that time there was a cross between these breeds. Nevertheless, experts also believe that it’s a mix of Arabian horses during the Flemish War as well.

After the French Revolution, with the stopping of the feudal lands, the Friesian horse returned to Holland as breeding for racehorses.

Throughout the nineteenth century, this horse worked as a carriage breed, especially for people from wealthy families.

Another change of course in history took place at the beginning of the 20th century. The Friesian horses started working on farms and at times they were also performing in circuses.

With the purpose of protecting the breed, the authorities created the Friesian Horse Breed Registration Book in 1879. In addition, this became the first equine registration book in the Netherlands.

Appearance and traits

It should be noted that the following are among the most outstanding characteristics of the Friesian horse:

A friesian horse in a contest.
Source: Andizo
  • They stand on average about 63 inches tall, although it may vary from 58 to 68 inches at the withers.
  • The average weight of a Friesian horse is about 1,300 pounds.
  • Its build is muscular, with a slightly sloping wide back and a wide but straight neck.
  • The coat colors are jet black or very dark brown. Experts don’t permit any spots or other shades on this breed’s coat.
  • The Friesian’s head has a good proportion in relation to the body. It’s usually elongated and they have deep-gazing eyes. In addition, their pointy ears slightly turn inwards.
  • It has a full coat, and it has adapted to living in cold climates.
  • Its tail, mane, and legs have tufts of hair that stand out.
  • It’s a strong and robust species because its extremities have proper proportions and resistance.
  • Regarding its dynamic qualities, the Friesian horse is very agile, and learns dance steps easily. This is the reason why it’s so stunning to watch at exhibitions.
  • It has elegant and harmonious walking, with good elevation when marching. Its large hooves give it power and stability.

More interesting facts

Friesians were included in movies and television shows including Zorro, Once Upon a Time, Lady Hawke and Bedazzled to name but a few.

The Friesian horse has been bred for many generations, not only for beauty, good build, and the ability to move well, but also for its work ethic, and temperament.

In the last 10 to 15 years the interest in Friesians for dressage riding has grown exponentially in Europe and North America, with Friesians starting to compete at the highest levels.

Horse care

For the Friesian horse’s coat to remain shiny, owners must feed them well and comb their hair very often. Frequent use of shampoo is not recommended as it affects the natural color of the species. Moreover, when brushing the horse, it’s necessary to try to remove as much falling hair as possible.

Finally, it’s important to keep the teeth in good condition and, thus, avoid problems with chewing food, digestive disorders, and other types of pain.

We hope you enjoyed learning about this majestic animal!

Source of images: Larissa Allen and Andizo.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.