There are few things in this world that are more majestic than the pure black Friesian in motion. The breed is synonymous with legends and folklore – when you imagine the knight on his horse it is often the Friesian that comes to mind. We all know they are elegant, graceful and powerful – but what else do you know about this amazing horse breed? Check out these fun Friesian facts – did you know them all?
#1 – Named after the province they hail from
Most do not realize that the Friesian is from Friesland, (pronounced “Fryslan” in the Friesdian language), a province of the Netherlands in northwest Europe. Only four percent of the Netherlands population lives there. They are known for agriculture, their cattle, and of course, their horse.
#2 – Two ways of spelling the name
The name “Friesian” actually has two spellings. In English, it is usually spelled Frisian, using the alternative spelling with the “e” for the Holstein Friesian cattle. However, the Friesian breed books and registries use the same spelling for both animals, with the “e”.
#3 – An ancient and famous breed
The Friesian horse has been around for centuries. There are historical documents that mention and praise the breed from all over Europe beginning in the 1200’s. Hungarian King Louis II is said to have a ridden a Friesian into the battle of the Mohacs against the Turks in 1526. (fhana.com)
#4 – They were in the United States before it was a country
The Friesian spread across the globe quickly. By the 1600s, they were being imported to the Americas via the Dutch when they had control of the region now known as New York. There are historical documents showing Dutch “trotters” for sale – Friesians – in New Amsterdam (now New York).(fhana.com)
#5 – Possibly an influence in the Morgan horse breed
Jeanne Mellin in her book “The Morgan Horse” (1961), suggests that the Morgan horse came from some Friesian stock at some point – citing their fast trot, heavy manes and long tails and fetlocks as signs the breed must have influenced the American Morgan. (fhana.com)
#6 – They are not always black
Although the solid black beauties are what we are used to, horses are sometimes born that are chestnut. Chestnut stallions cannot be registered, but they sometimes allow mares and geldings. In 1990 the Friesch Paarden Stamboek (Friesion Stallion Studbook) tried to breed out the chestnut color and today, they DNA test all stallions for the gene. If the carry the chestnut gene, they are not registerable either. There is a Fire Friesian Registry for chestnut Friesians as part of the Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International Registry.
#7 – They have their own special cart
The Friesian Sjees is an elegant carriage that was developed in Friesland to be pulled by Friesians in the 18th century. The word “Sjees” was chosen after the French word “chaise” meaning chair. The carts are insanely detailed and must have wheels that are 1.5 meters (approx. 5’) or higher and have 14 spokes. A male driver accompanies a female passenger (who rides on the right, not the left) in 18th century attire. There is a registry book for Sjezen and 26 measurements must be taken and recorded before a carriage may be put in the registry. Every Sjees must be unique, no two are ever the same. (fhana.com)