These "Black Pearls" originated in Friesland, a province of The Netherlands. It is the only horse native to The Netherlands and is one of the oldest breeds in Europe.
The Friesian horse is always black. The only white marking permitted is a small star. He has feathers on his lower legs. The long, luxurious mane, thick long tail, noble head on a crested neck and flamboyant action create this very beautiful and elegant horse.
By the age of 4 years, the Friesian stallion should be a minimum of 1.60m (15.3 hands) in height. The mare should be at least 1.50m (15 hands).
The Friesian is a very versatile breed. Its gentle temperament, willingness to learn and striking action make it a popular harness horse, both in competition and show driving. It is also found under saddle, with the development of the modern, lighter type making it popular in the dressage ring.
In the Middle Ages, the monks developed the Friesian by crossing the draft type Equus Robustus descendants with lighter breeds of horses. The Romans liked the breed but considered it unattractive. The Friesian was used to carry the German Knights to the Crusades where its strength, endurance and wonderful temperament were appreciated.
The appearance of the breed was improved with the introduction of Andalusian blood during the Eighty Years War when Spain invaded The Netherlands. The resulting horses were highly sought after by the nobility.
By the early 1900's only three purebred stallions were left. Introducing Oldenburg blood saved the breed. Friesians had been used to improve the Oldenburg breed previously.
In the following years, the horse was used mainly for farm work until the increased use of the tractor again threatened its very existence.
Since 1970 the Friesian has been increasingly used for sport and recreation. The efforts of dedicated enthusiasts of the breed have seen the number of purebred Friesians increased from near extinction to around 40 000 worldwide today.
The Friesian horse has been registered with the Royal Society "Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek" (FPS) since 1879. This Society keeps very strict control over breed standards.
A wonderful all-rounder and a truly unique breed, the Friesian is increasingly sought after in the 21st century.