Friesian - the versatile, imposing black horse

Of all horse breeds, the Friesian is a horse that stands out especially for its imposing appearance. These noble animals were still threatened with extinction at the beginning of the 20th century, but nowadays they are very popular leisure or dressage horses and are often used in horse shows.

They are also very suitable for pulling a carriage and are admired for their impressive conformation and spirited gaits.

These baroque horses are distinctive because of their luxuriant long coat with a full, usually somewhat wavy mane and a long tail, as well as the clear kötenbehang.

Breed-typical coat colour

The Friesian is typically black, but shades can occur. Classically, however, no markings are desired, the coat of the Friesian horse should shine black throughout. A mare may have a star as markings, but larger markings are not desired.

A white Friesian is not a purebred Friesian, the white Friesian stallion Nero from Gut Dankerode is an Arabian-Friesian mix and can therefore show the untypical colour for this horse breed.

Friesian horses have a dry head with freedom of the gait, a harmonious build with a medium-long, well-muscled neck, a sloping shoulder and prominent withers and are therefore also suitable as dressage horses.

Their character is strong nerved and uncomplicated, due to their strength and gentleness they are excellent carriage horses. Mares usually reach a height of 155 to 165 centimetres, stallions usually grow taller. Horses of this breed are called baroque horses because of their build.

Friesians and their breeding

The breeding history of this Dutch horse breed began in the 16th century. This makes the Friesian horse one of the oldest horse breeds in Europe.

The Spanish occupied the Netherlands and brought their Iberian horses with them. A rather cold-blooded native horse type was crossed with the Iberians in the province of Friesland and thus the horse breed known today was formed.

At the beginning of the 18th century they were used as carriage horses for light, elegant carriages of stately homes. However, demand for the Baroque horses declined, so that by 1913 only three Friesian stallions remained.

Committed breeders stood up for the black horses and stopped the supply of foreign blood. Thus, the stud book founded in 1879 was closed and the Friesian was bred pure. This had the disadvantage that inbreeding had to be carried out because of the low population. Today, every Friesian horse registered in the Dutch stud book is determined by a so-called inbreeding factor. This indicates the percentage of inbreeding in the horse's genome.

A white Friesian came into being in the 1970s when a new breeding line was created by crossbreeding with Arabians, namely the Arabo Friesian, to which Nero also belongs.


The licensing of a Friesian stallion is carried out according to very strict criteria. In addition to conformation and gait, the stallion's interior is also evaluated, such as his willingness to work or his behaviour in the stable.

Even if the stallion has successfully passed this test, he has to face the jury again every year. Only after four or five years, when the first foal crop is three years old, the final assessment takes place.

Today, the impressive black horse is represented in over 50 countries, and the oldest horse stud book in the Netherlands contains 60,000 registered horses. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders, this horse breed, which is part of the cultural heritage of the Netherlands, has been saved.

Animalon's brushing recommendation for the Friesian:

The Friesian's magnificent mane and long tail require special care to look as sleek as can be. Our easy-grip Mane- & Tail brush easily untangles the horse's hair and also cares for it very gently.

Even the smallest speck of dust is visible on the black coat of Friesians. That's why we recommend our Care Flex shine brush made of goat hair, which both frees the coat from loose dust and conjures up a beautiful shine on the horse's coat.