The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Friesian Horse….
(These and more questions are answered on our Friesian History page!)
1. Where did Friesians come from?
Friesian horses originated in Friesland – a province of The Netherlands (Holland). The Friesian horse was originally imported to North America in the 17th century but the breed was totally lost in North America due to crossbreeding. The horse was not reintroduced to this continent until 1974. The Friesian Horse Studbook (Het Friesch Paarden Stamboek, or FPS) in Friesland is the original governing agency for the Friesian horse. The Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA) works very closely with the FPS to maintain the purity and quality of the breed.
2. How do I know I’m getting a quality, registered Friesian horse?
The FPS in Friesland is the largest (and original) registry for the Friesian horse worldwide. The FPS was founded in 1879. Today’s Dutch-registered horses are the result of over a century of rigorous evaluation and selection of breeding stock. Other organizations may also register Friesian horses but these horses may not have met the standards of the FPS and, therefore, they cannot be recognized by the FPS registry. A horse whose papers are not issued by the FPS cannot be recognized by FHANA.
3. Is crossbreeding allowed?
Crossbreeding Friesian horses with other breeds is strongly discouraged by the FPS. Registration papers cannot be issued by the FPS for such offspring resulting from crossbreeding. Only FPS-approved breeding stallions can be used as sires to FPS-registered mares.
4. What is a ‘keuring’ or inspection?
Keuring’ (pronounced ‘kurr-ing’) is the process of inspecting horses for quality in conformation and movement. Once each year, a team of qualified officials or representatives of the FPS travel throughout North America to inspect (judge) each Friesian horse presented. This is a thorough evaluation process that helps to determine the success of our breeding programs, the goal of which is to improve the breed by selectively matching sire and dam. When a horse is judged, first as a foal at the dam’s side, and again at the age of 3 years, the judges may award it a ‘premie’ or premium. A first premie is the most sought after (approximately 5% of horses will attain this rating), a second premie indicates a ‘very good’ rating (only 35% or so achieve this rating), and the third premie is most common (awarded to approximately 50% of the horses inspected). More information on this subject is available at www.fhana.com in the Rules & Regulations section.
5. What colors do Friesians come in?
The only color a registered Friesian is allowed is black; however, this can range from black-bay to true black. Many Friesians appear black-bay when their coats are shedding or when they have become sun- or sweat-bleached.
6. How tall are Friesian horses?
Friesian stallions must be at least 1.60 meters (or 15.3 hands) by the age of four, and mares must be at least 1.50 meters (or 14.3 hands). The height range of 15.2½ to 16.0 hands is considered ideal by the FPS, although many horses may be taller or shorter than this standard.
7. What can I use a Friesian horse for?
Friesian horses are very versatile and could be used for driving, dressage, light farm work, and riding. Some have been used for jumping, but because of their size and weight, it is not encouraged.
8. How many Friesian horses are there in North America?
There are currently over 4,000 purebred Friesians in the U.S. and Canada, but the number is growing steadily due to increased knowledge about and interest in the breed. The largest concentration is still in the western United States. Numbers will vary, of course, because of horses imported from overseas, births, deaths, and so on.
9. Where can I get a Friesian horse and how much will it cost?
Though Friesian horses are still somewhat of a rarity in North America, there is a big demand. While Friesians usually cost more than an average saddle horse, prices vary widely depending on age, gender, quality, training, and the seller.
10. Who do I contact if I need more information?
FHANA has a wealth of information about the Friesian breed. You can visit their website at www.fhana.com, or send a letter to:
The Friesian Horse Association of North America
P.O. Box 11217
Lexington, KY 40574-1217