The most beautiful, graceful, gentle horse in the world, and also the one you’ve probably seen a lot of. They’re average to tall (14.2 to 17 hh), with a rounded nose characteristic of most Spanish breeds. They have small heads and a body that is dependent on their breeding, while mostly they are of a stocky build the more modern, sport-designed Friesians are lighter-boned.
You’ll know a Friesian most instantly from their hair. To be classed pedigree standard, a Friesian must have no white markings, and must be perfectly black. Occasionally they will be chestnut, but this is frowned on and won't be accepted as a true Friesian. A Friesian will never have his hair cut, which includes his mane, forelock, tail and fetlocks. The hair on the fetlocks is called “feathers” in the business.
Friesians are gentle in nature, and although their blackness, hair and stocky body makes them seem large and imposing, they are actually very docile and willing horses. Despite this, they are most often highly energetic, and as with many animals they will turn sour without the proper amount of exercise.
The Friesian breed originated in the Netherlands, and it is believed the Romans managed to get hold of a few, which resulted in the breed traveling to England. They were used as warhorses during the medieval times, but when the need for warhorses was lessened they were bred with Andalusians to give them a lighter body type. Very often a black Andy will be mistaken to be a Friesian.
After this, France and Spain used Friesians as school horses in high-dressage, where they are still often used due to their body control, looks and temperament. They have a high-stepping trot, which combined with their overall pretty looks makes them wonderful for carriage horses. They are rarely, if ever used for jumping sports as their body structure does not make them highly skilled in this area of equestrian.
Instead, they are used in showing, dressage, pleasure riding and driving. They are also often used as circus horses or in the film industry. Goliath was among the first Friesians to make an on-screen appearance, in the 1985 film Ladyhawke. This led to other Friesians being brought into films, including The Mask of Zorro, Alexander, Eargon, Emma and Sense and Sensibilty.
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