by Crystal A. Eikanger
The Friesian Horse, one of Europe’s oldest domesticated breeds, originated in Friesland, a province of The Netherlands. It is considered to be a Warmblood because of its easy-going temperament with a companionable nature. The Friesian horse is also a talented show horse when it comes to dressage. This is due to its intelligence, willingness to learn and to please, and readiness to perform.
It is difficult to date the precise origin of the Friesian but it is believed to be descended from the ancient Equus robustus (big horse). Frisian horsemen served in the Roman Legions, e.g. the Equites Singulares of Emperor Nero (54-68), and in Great Britain near Hadrian’s Wall which was built in 120 AD. There is certainty that the horse was well-known in the Middle Ages since it is found in art work of that era. Breeding horses was very important for the Frisians and before the reformation, the monks in Friesland monasteries did a lot of horse breeding.
In the 1600’s it was adopted to carry heavy weight under saddle. During the 16th and 17th centuries, and maybe earlier, Arabian blood was introduced through the Spanish Andalusian horses. This gave them the high knee-action, the small head and the craning neck. The Friesian horse has had no influence from the English Thoroughbred and during the last two centuries it has been bred pure. Read more