Q. Where did Friesians come from?
A. Friesian horses originated in Friesland—a province of The Netherlands (Holland). The Friesian horse, one of Europe's oldest breeds, was originally imported to North America in the seventeenth century but the breed was totally lost in North America due to crossbreeding. The Friesian was not reintroduced to North America until 1974.
Q. What can I use a Friesian for?
A. Friesian horses are very versatile and can be used in riding for pleasure and in competition, for dressage, driving for pleasure and in competition and even for light farm work. Unlike some other European warmbloods, Friesians have not been bred as jumpers, although some owners enjoy jumping their horses. For more information see our Friesian Characteristics and Use page.
Q. How tall are Friesian horses?
A. Friesian stallions must be at least 1.60 M (15.3 hands) by the age of four and mares and geldings must be at least 1.54 M (15.0 hands) to enter the adult studbooks. The height of 15.2 to 16.0 hands is average, although many horses are taller or shorter. Average weight is 1300 + pounds.
Q. How many Friesians are there?
A. There are currently more than 45,000 Friesians registered worldwide in the Dutch Friesch Paarden Stamboek. Approximately 8,000 of those horses are in North America.
Q. What colors do Friesians come in?
A. The only color a studbook-registered Friesian comes in is black, however this may range from very dark brown or black-bay to true black. Many Friesians appear black bay when their coats are shedding or when they have become sun or sweat bleached. Selective breeding minimizes white markings and the only white marking allowed on a studbook-registered horse is a small star.
Q. Is cross breeding allowed?
A. The rules of FHANA strongly discourage the breeding of KFPS registered Friesian horses with other breeds.
Q. What is a judging?
A. A judging (keuring, in Dutch) is an evaluation of horses here in North America, by officials from the Netherlands. Once a year, teams of officials qualified by the Friesch Paarden Stamboek are sent to North America to inspect or "judge" our horses. This is a thorough evaluation process that helps us to upgrade our breeding programs. The horses are judged in-hand and 60% of the evaluation is based on the quality of movement and 40% is based on conformation.
Most Friesians are judged twice in their life: once when they are foals—for entry in the Foal Book—and again when they are three years or older and eligible to enter the adult studbooks. When a foal or horse is judged, it may be awarded a premie, or "premium". This is an award used to designate the horses with the most desirable characteristics. A first premium is best, second is very good, third is most common and some horses will not receive a premium. The premiums awarded to each horse appear on his or her registration certificate.
In addition to the premium, as each mare or gelding is judged for admission to the adult studbooks, it is ranked using a "linear score" sheet. This linear score assigns positive or negative point scores to many individual aspects of conformation, breed characteristics and movement as exhibited by the horse. The score sheet for each individual horse is given to the owner. In addition, the linear scores for all the offspring of each stallion are combined and published. This composite score provides a way of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses that each stallion passes on to his offspring. By matching the strengths and weaknesses of the mare and stallion, we can use the linear scores to choose the best match between sire and dam in order to continually improve the breed. (The linear score sheets issued by the FPS are, of course, in Dutch. For an English version of a linear scoring form, check here.)
Q. What is a "star"?
A. When a mare or gelding enters the adult studbook, the best 25 to 30% are awarded "Star" status. This designation appears on the horse’s registration certificate. The very, very best of the Star Mares can be awarded the designation of "Model". Mares can receive the designation preferent ("Preferred"), if four of their offspring achieve star status or better. And mares with three offspring performing at the top levels in competitive sport can receive the designation of prestatie, or "Performance Mother".
Q. How does a stallion get breeding approval?
A. In the registry of the Friesch Paarden Stamboek, only Approved Studbook Stallions can sire horses that are eligible for entry in the main studbook registers. There are approximately 100 Approved Stallions in the world today and about a quarter of those are in North America. The selection and testing requirements for a stallion to gain breeding approval are so rigorous that only a handful of young stallions are approved each year. And four years after approval, the stallion’s offspring must demonstrate to the studbook inspectors that the stallion makes a positive impact on the breed or his approval will be withdrawn. It is a merciless selection process that insures that only the very best stallions will influence the future of the Friesian horse.
Q. Where can I get a Friesian and how much will it cost?
A. The Friesian breed is becoming quite popular in North America with reputable breeders across the continent. You can find a list of some of those breeders listed under our "Breeders & Sellers" list found under "Horses for Sale". Our online classified section is also a great place to begin your search for the perfect Friesian and see the going rates for these fine animals. Prices vary according to age, gender, inspection status, and levels of training.
Q. Are there any books about Friesians available?
A. Unfortunately there are not many books on the Friesian horse and the books which are available tend to be written in Dutch.