The Friesian horse is unique, truly a breed to be proud of. It developed from a very old breed which was inherent to all of western Europe. It's the only horse native to Holland. Historically speaking, the Friesian horse has been influenced by eastern bloodlines and has often been threatened with extinction. Thanks to the single-mindedness and dauntless dedication of true horse lovers, one can still appreciate the many facets of the Friesian horse today.
Without a doubt, the black coat of the Friesian will impress you at first sight. Bays and grays occurred earlier in the breed, but now black is the only recognized color. A small white forehead star is also allowed. Other obvious characteristics are the long, heavy mane and tail and the Shire-like fetlock hair.
The Friesian horse is enjoying a revival. He is a noteworthy sight in the show ring. His shiny black coat, flying mane and tail, and high action form an imposing image. The Friesian is, by nature, a talented show horse.
The aim of showing in harness is to bring out the best in one's horse. The horse should be balanced in a fast, high-action trot, roomy from the shoulder and powerful in the hindquarters. The total picture is one of lively harmony, with ears pricked attentively forward. Harness events in shows are usually driven with a high-wheeled gig, the "sjees", for singles, pairs, and tandems. Driving with four-wheeled show carts is also gaining popularity.
Recreational and Competition Driving
Driving one or more Friesian horses has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Tough international competitions are only for the few, but there are many who derive relaxation and pleasure from driving Friesians for recreation. He who wants to perfect his driving and test his skill against others, can do so at the many dressage driving events.
The Friesian horse has a talent for dressage. The foundation lies in his intelligence, willingness to learn, and readiness to perform. His pleasant character and his gentleness make the Friesian an attractive mount for competition as well as for recreational purposes. The riding club "De Oorsprong" (the source), from Huis ter Heide near St. Nicolaasga in Friesland, has been using only Friesian horses since 1937 in order to advertise their abilities as riding horses.
Tilting at the Ring
This traditional sport is still enthusiastically practiced throughout Holland. One can see Friesians pulling a wide assortment of carriages at these events.
The Friesian quadrille is a well-appreciated show number. It is comprised of 8 sjees, drawn by Friesians, driven by gentlemen accompanied by a lady, both dressed in traditional costumes like those worn in the 1850's. Complex patterns are driven, showing the drivers' trust in the obedience of their horses.