The Friesian horse is the only purebred horse native to the Netherlands.
Its roots go far back in time. The Friesian horse was recognized as early as
the 13th century, and Friesian horses of today still display
definite similarities with their distant ancestors. The breed's long history
and a consistent breeding policy have consolidated the specific 'Friesian'
characteristics. On this sturdy foundation, the Friesian horse has evolved into
what it is today: an imposing presence in every respect.
With its black colour, long mane and full tail, the Friesian is
recognizable in an instant. The horse has an elegant build and powerful,
elevated gaits. Its character is friendly and graciously spirited. All of these
qualities make the Friesian a fine horse that can be used for many different
The Friesian horse is being successfully and above all, very
enthusiastically employed in various equestrian sports. The specific Friesian
qualities are displayed especially well in driving competitions where they can
be seen in action before the gig, in the single horse and pairs classes as well
as in the unicorn and show cart categories. Competing for the highest honours,
these black horses are making themselves very well known.
The Friesian horse is also a fine dressage horse. Its fine
self-carriage, willingness to work and inquisitive nature make it perfect for
this branch of the sport. Friesians are now increasingly being seen at national
competitions where they are displaying their talents to compete on equal terms
with all other horses bred for riding purposes. Friesian horses are just as
well represented in driving trials and marathon tests. And, last but certainly
not least, one can scarcely imagine a more enjoyable partner as a recreational
horse than the Friesian.
Fine examples of the Friesian breed
Certain teams of horses are the 'parade horses' for the studbook. They
display the outstanding sport achievements of which Friesians are capable. An
example in point is the Friesian Foursome, who became the Dutch championship
team in the Z class during the Levade in 1999.
Several pair and four-in-hand marathon teams are achieving very well at the
international level. Simply the ease with which many studbook stallions can be
ridden in Z dressage within a short time says much about their achievement
capabilities that, due to the selection done in breeding, are being lifted to
an increasingly higher plane.
Within the Netherlands
In the 1960s, the Friesian horse was being threatened with extinction.
At that time, there were only a thousand horses registered in the studbook. Due
to certain breeders whose love for the breed was a very important element in their
lives, we still have a purebred Friesian horse. By 2003, there were about
40,000 horses registered in the Royal Association "Het
(FPS). The association now has 12000 members, 7000 of whom are in the Netherlands
and another 5000 of whom live in several different countries all over the
After the critical period in the 1960s, the tide has turned and the
Friesian horse has done nothing but gain in popularity and appreciation. This
year, the number of foals born was around 6000, and this number is increasing
every year. These larger numbers are giving the FPS an opportunity to be
stricter in its selections and in this way to bring the average quality of the
horses' conformation and usefulness to a higher plane. A corps of inspection
and jury members is responsible for this task. They travel all over the world
to inspect the horses and advise breeders. When inspecting for conformation, it
is not only breeding type and conformation characteristics - as a whole as well
as in detail that count. Definitely just as important is movement. Horses
that satisfy these requirements can be recorded in one of the FPS registers and
are then eligible for a more prestigious title. In the Aptitude and Utility
Test (ABFP), the emphasis is on judging the horse's gaits, its aptitude for the
various equestrian disciplines, its willingness to work and its character. This
is an indispensable indication for a studbook that is working hard to breed
more than just good-looking horses.
Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek
The Royal Association "Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek"
(FPS) has been registering the Friesian horse since 1879. Its aim is to promote
the Friesian horse breed and to monitor its quality. The FPS is the second
oldest studbook in the Netherlands.
In addition, the FPS is officially recognized as the original studbook for the
Friesian horse throughout the world.
The "World Friesian Horse Organization" (WFHO)
The WFHO is the coordinating organization for the recognized association
of breeders of Friesian horses who reside outside of the Netherlands.
This association has its offices within the establishment of the FPS and
functions under the chairmanship of the FPS. The aim of the WFHO is the
worldwide promotion of:
- the breeding of pureblooded Friesian horses according to the
regulations of the FPS, paying explicit attention to a strictly applied
- stimulating the use of the Friesian horse
Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek holds
annual inspections. Two major inspections stand out from all the rest:
Stallion Inspection in January. Thousands of breeders and Friesian horse
enthusiasts attend this three-day inspection in the FEC halls in Leeuwarden.
Central Inspections for Mares and Geldings in October. This is an
opportunity to show the very best of the products of Friesian horse
breeding, these horses having been pre-selected during the previous season
at the regional inspections.
Both of these events are embellished with spectacular
Actually seeing these horses gives one a different perspective in regard
to how beautiful they truly are. The Friesian horse is a unique breed: a horse
with something very special. What an experience to see and hear the imposing
stallions waltzing around the ring, beholding a kür
ridden to music, or watching foals small but brave - floating alongside their
Just being in the presence of a fine Friesian horse can make a person
shiver with excitement and awe. Anyone who knows Friesians knows the feeling.
It's a feeling for some a hobby and for others a passion that brings people
from all over the world together.