The Friesian has had its highs and lows. It went from being very popular to going nearly extinct, and now its popularity is on the rise again. This was all because of a few people who refused to let this breed fade away.
This breed first came into existence in the Dutch Netherlands. It was developed from a warm blooded horse that could be found all over Europe at the time. It is believed that this breed has the same blood as the Lipizzaner horse. This is why it is a prized horse that excels at dressage. It was not always that way though. It first started out as a war mount, but as time went on, other breeds better suited for the job were found. Eventually, this breed became a carriage horse, a prized dressage horse, and a trotter.
Andalusian blood can be found in this horse breed, and its ancestry can be traced all the way back to the horses that the Romans introduced to Europe during their reign. It was once believed that other warm-blooded breeds could improve this one. However, this led to its near extinction, and by the turn of the century, there were only a few purebred horses to be found. Around 1914, people began to realize that the horse that was a part of their heritage was about to disappear. As a result, intense effort was put into reestablishing this horse and bringing it back from the brink of extinction. Thus, the breed was saved.
Early on, there were bay and gray coat colors, but these days, only the pure-black one is recognized. A small star on the forehead is allowed, but it should have no other markings. If a chestnut-colored horse competes, it is penalized. This breed has a very long mane, and a thick and lush tail. It also has slight feathering on its feet. This gives the horse a look of absolute grace and nobility.
The average height of this breed is 15 hands (160 cm or 63 inches). However, height can vary from 14 to 17 hands (148 to 173 cm or 58 to 68 inches). The neck is long and arched. The ears are sharp and short. The tail is low-set. The body is compact and muscular. There are two distinctions in body type. One is the 'baroque', which is sturdy and powerful, and the other is the 'sport' type, which is thinner. The latter is more popular in shows. This horse has a brisk trot.
This horse is considered as enthusiastic, active, and energetic. At the same time, it is also calm, docile, and gentle. These days, it is used for many different purposes, one of them being the showing in harness. This breed is also a very popular dressage mount. As it has the Lipizzaner blood in it, it is an excellent dressage horse and has stunning, elegant, and noble good looks.
This is a unique animal that Holland is proud of. Talented in the show ring, with characteristics that no other horse possesses, it is slowly making its way back into the spotlight.
As the popularity of this breed is increasing, it is facing some genetic health issues. Some of these are dwarfism, wherein the limbs do not grow fully, hydrocephalus, which is caused by a deformation of the jugular foramen and can affect the cerebral spinal fluid, megaesophagus, wherein the esophagus dilates, low immunity, which may result in hair loss, extreme sensitivity to insect bites, or skin damage, and some other issues.
The Fresian is a very unique horse that has a wonderful personality. Watching it go through its steps with so much grace is simply delightful.