"Cold land, Friesland from whence I sailed. Wind-whipped Viking masts, wind-whipped mane. From Hadrian's Wall to Crusader's call, I'm the standard bearer of victory and fame"
Horses of the Sun
Robert Vavra


The cold-blooded Friesian, a descendant of the primitive Forest Horse of Europe, is bred on sea-girt Feisland in the north of the Netherlands. In Holland, it is an object of fervent admiration today, as in the past. Indeed, it occupies an important place in human history and among the equine races.

The Romans acknowledged the Friesian as a powerful working horse despite it being ugly in their eyes. A thousand years later, it had become better looking, and it proved itself as an animal of strength, docility and endurance when it carried the Frisian and German knights to the Crusades. Contact with eastern horses improved the breed still more, as did the infusion of Andalusian blood when Spain occupied the Netherlands during the Eighty Years' War.

Because the Friesian excelled in harness, under saddle and as a farm horse, it was much used to improve neighboring breeds. The famous Oldenburg was founded largely on Friesian blood. England's Dales and Fell Ponies were also influenced by it when the Frieslanders and their black horses formed the flank-guard for the Roman legions. Through its derivative, the Old English Black, the Friesian also influenced England's Great Horse, now the Shire, and also the Norwegian Dole Gudbrandsdal.

The head is long with short ears, but alert, finely drawn and very expressive of the breed's cheerful willingness and lovable character. The relatively small Friesian has an impressive topline, accentuated by the arched and proudly carried neck. The body is compact, strong and deep, denoting a robust constitution. The shoulders, ideally suited to harness, are powerful. Limbs are short, strong and with good bone. There is considerable feather on the lower limbs. The hard hooves are of blue horn and not prone to disease. The tail and the mane of the Friesian are very full and luxuriant, and rarely pulled or braided. The quarters of this fine horse are sloping and somewhat low-set, like those of the Dales Pony, which shows Friesian influence. They are strong, but not massive, as in the heavy draft breeds. The Friesian is always black and stands 15hh and upward.

Reference: The Ultimate Horse Book; Elwyn Hartley Edwards; 1991

Friesian Links

Friesian Horse Association of North America
The Feathered Horse
Dark Horse Farms

Reference picture courtesy of The Ultimate Horse Site

The Friesian Horse Webring
This The Friesian Horse Webring site
is owned by White Arabian.
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