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This page provides information on: Training, Growth, Choosing & Buying a Friesian plus misconceptions & myths.
For information on Friesian market prices, history, breed influences, confirmation, traits, the judging or kuering's, Ster, model and preferent status, & reading your registration papers please go to the 'Friesian History & Breed Information' page on this web site. For Information on Approved Stallions please go under "U.S. Approved Stallions". For documentary films about the breed please go under "merchandise"

TEXT COPYRIGHTED, BY MELISSA FISCHBACH. Feel free to link to my site if you would like to provide information but do NOT COPY my text. The Following information is intended to educate and generally be helpful. It is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any problems, I take no responsibility on how my information is used.

I would like to share with you some basic knowledge about the Friesian horse to take into consideration when choosing a trainer or a Friesian for yourself.

Friesian's are Gentle Giants. Sweet loving and quickly become a part of the family. They love their people and are generally very good around Children. The Dutch saying about the Friesian Horse is " you can bring him in the house, but don't let him step on your foot!" Friesians just honestly would rather be with people over other horses. It is very uncommon for Friesians to display frantic separation anxiety from another horse. As long as you are there and they trust you they will following your lead. Other horses are just scratching buddies but not their best friend as their humans become to them. I have an old Gelding, that encompasses the gentle Giant syndrome as he is 17hh! as he aged he was allowed to be loose on the property. He quickly established himself as the helper! if the window was opened he would hang out outside with his head in the house! he followed you like a dog and was into 'doing' whatever you were doing. ( yes he was a pest) but in all the sometimes odd situations he put himself into he never panicked. Friesian's are smart enough to not panic in a potentially harmful situations. Sometimes the flight instinct kicks in but remember also that this breed of horse is 'laid back' they are not motivated to display vices or problems you see in other breeds such as to; buck, jump, bite or strike.

The Friesian horse is an intelligent and very kind animal that learns very quickly and can excel in any discipline at a rapid rate of speed. Trainers unfamiliar with the Friesian horse can often accidentally, due to the Friesians calm acceptance of new items, advance the training too quickly. Hence one to two months into the horses training the horse can suddenly have a sensory overload and explode. It is important to remember no matter how sweet and willing you Friesian is, do not skip steps in their training or it can backfire on you at a later date.

Common training problem aside from the ones mentioned in the above paragraph are: BEHIND THE VERTICAL: Causes, HORSE ERROR: Going behind the vertical is an evasive maneuver used by the horse to do less work. RIDER ERROR: not allowing the horse to carry his own head, i.e too short reins, no enough freedom of movement, no enough forward. Rider may want to receive some help from a trainer.
LACK OF FORWARD ENERGY: Causes, HORSE ERROR: Slight laziness, ignoring rider ques, not enough energy. RIDER ERROR: Constant kicking of horse every stride, riding to vigorously. Rider must teach the horse to go forward by clear means. When one is kicking every stride the que becomes meaningless to the horse and he will begin to ignore it because you are doing it all the time. Make sure your ques are very clear and don't maintain. If the rider thinks it is more horse error due to lack of energy one may want to consider giving the horse a small feeding of grain for higher energy. If it is more rider error or a combination of the two one may want receive some help or advice from a trainer. BOLTING: I mention bolting because It is the most common question I get asked about training. A Friesians response to unknown fear is to bolt, now don't misunderstand me not ALL Friesian's will bolt, they don't run until they drop, it is not hereditary. It is because of skipped training steps or horses that are young and being pushed beyond their comfort zone. You have to keep in mind that Friesians grow until age 8. I cant stress this enough so buying a 4 year old Friesian is the equivalent of buying a 2 yr.. old of another breed. Don't expect your Friesian to reach full development mentally and physically until at least age 5. If you have a Friesian that has started bolting out of Fear. You need to have a confident rider work with the horse. I know often beginner riders will try to work with these horses but admit your lack of experience and the fear you may feel riding this problem and don't compound it by allowing it to happed repeatedly. Catch it and stop it the first time it happens. Review what you were working on or what in the environment frightened the horse. If the horse is just very young and inexperienced. I suggest you ride in the arena with another rider on an older quiet horse. Also review other problems that could cause this behavior, what the horse is being fed, saddle fit, sloppy rider, etc.

This is a question I get asked about twice per week, " My horse is 2 years old can I start riding it or training it to pull a cart"? Everyone is eager to ride and wants to start there babies early. Here is what I strongly suggest you do. Have your vet out to look at your horse. Have the horses legs joints examined to see if the joints are closed and done with there serious growing. If the joints are still wide open you can cause permanent damage to your horses by starting too early even just longing! if the joints are ok then ask you vet how much of a load and how much work time the horse can do at this age, also be careful of overloading them mentally, young horses have a very short attention span. If you scare them at a young age it can add serious repercussions to later training. Most Friesians are lightly started at 3 and do not do serious training until age 4. Second question: "What are the Dutch/German levels in dressage as compared to the US levels?" Dressage: B= Training level, L= first level, M= second/ third level; Z-1= 3rd level test 1 (no flying changes); Z-2= 3rd level (with flying changes). ZZ-L= 3rd/ 4th level, ZZ-Z= just below PSG, and then FEI levels are the same as here of course.


Want to know how to read your Dutch papers? -CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The Friesian horse develops very slowly. Most Friesians do not reach their full height until they are 8 years of age. It is therefore important not to start your Friesian too early. Friesians are normally started lightly under saddle at age three and begin serious training at age four.
Developing, when training you Friesian for dressage it is very important not to skip the long and low stretching of the head and neck. Friesians need that to develop their back muscles. Naturally, it is very easy for them to be collected, but riding collected from the start can lead to a stiff hollow back.

There were historically three types of the Friesian horses: light, medium, and heavy. In today's world those types have become mixed so every horse is very different. I myself categorize them into two types: 1) The riding horse 2) The driving horse. Type number one, the riding horse, displays these attributes: medium to short back, slanted crop with the crop being also lower than the shoulders, a lower neck set, a nice long stride and a natural canter when free. Type number two, the driving horse, has these attributes: longer back, very upright neck set, sharper angle in the shoulder a high snapping step and a natural trot with almost no canter when free. I am by no means saying that type one cannot be a driving horse and vice versa. However, this is just a basic guideline to consider when you're looking to purchase a horse.

Her are my recommendations for looking at a horse to purchase.
1) If the horse is truly the level stated make sure you take a trainer or rider independent from the farm that can ride upper level and evaluate that the horse truly can perform all movements to that level. Regardless of points earned Overseas, this is very important. If you can't see the horse in person have a trainer or knowledgeable friend watch and review video footage with you, pay close attending to training and review what the horse is shown as knowing.
2) Don't be rushed into a purchase. There are allot of Friesians out there to choose from.
3) if the horse has a pre-purchase exam from another country ALWAYS get a second opinion and have the horse re-vetted, have them pay close attention to skin, and bone conditions. Often Horses in Europe are not keep up on things like worming, and vitamins etc. If its a mare have a reproduction check and a culture taken.
4) do not put a deposit on a horse without first, reading and agreeing to any contracts, find out if the deposit is refundable and under what conditions have those placed on the contract, agree on a time limit for the vet exam to be done & the horse to be picked up. and find out if the owner expects you to pay board until that time. PUT ALL OF THIS IN THE CONTRACT.
5) Do some comparative price shopping and see if the price in reasonable.
6) IF you think the horse has already been ridden or worked that day, you need to arrange to go in the morning and see the horse when it is fresh. A horse that has been worked or is tacked up and ready when I arrive it always a red flag to me. ALWAYS have the owner ride the horse BEFORE you do. at least the first time. If someone hesitate to ride the horse or does not show the horse at all three gaits, DON'T GET ON! if you have the luxury of being nearby the horse you are looking at go and ride it several times before purchase or deposit.
7) If the horse is imported find out how long it has been in the USA, and keep in mind that a horse requires up to 3 months to acclimate, and recover from the trip to be the horses it was before it was shipped.
8) Once you have placed sent a purchase price on a horse have that horse insured within the first 24 hours. If you don't care to keep your horses insured at least have them insured in your name until they arrive safely at your property.

Friesians are commonly used for a family pleasure horse and they excel in the sports of Driving and Dressage. During the history of the Friesian horse breeding, they were never bred with jumping in mind. The angles and weight bearing in the shoulder and neck make them unsuitable for jumping. Some owners jump their Friesians for fun, but constant jump training would put and excess amount of pressure on the fetlock and hock joints.

There are some important feeding facts that are helpful to know. First off they do not have Alfalfa hay in Holland. It is not recommended that Alfalfa be fed to Friesian's as it is to high in Protein for them. Most Alfalfa hay is 12-14 % protein but some is as high as 22%. Hay that high in Proteins should only be fed to Broodmares, or horses that are in extremely high levels of work. Be cautious, especially with imports that have never been fed alfalfa before. Some Friesians even have allergic reactions to the hay, or all the extra protein is turned into sugar then fat. Suggested feeding for a Friesian is Good quality grass hay. General horse feeding rule of thumb for a average horse in minimal work is about 18 pounds of hay per 1000 pounds of body weight Per day. You can up the energy of a Friesian by feeding small amounts of a simple grain mix. Also remember to provide trace minerals/ Salt blocks and plenty of water. And Its a good idea to keep an eye on weight Friesian are big bodied big boned horses, so its important that you don't underfeed them because of the Deceptive bone structure.

We all love long hair on our horses, but how to care for all that mane, tail, feathers and coat can be a learning or new experience and It is a very commonly asked question. A little scientific tip to remember is Hair growth is linked to Nutrition and genetics. Average horse mane growth is around 1/2 and inch per month, but can be a little higher for Friesians due to the afore mentioned facts. Mane; if you want the glorious long mane, you will have to keep it braided, the safest and easiest way to keep it is in a French braided down the neck. Individual braids are also commonly used but you will find that if rubbed the entire braid can come off, so the French braid keeps it cleaner and has less area to rub out. Tail; unless you want a dragging on the ground show tail you can pretty much leave the tail alone it will stay long and full all on its own. If you want a tail that drags on the ground you will have to use a tail bag. Be cautious about over brushing, constant every day brushing of Manes tails and feathers can cause hair breakage and fall out. Tip; To achieve a fuller look on the feather try brushing them back wards, otherwise treat them has you would mane with shampoo and conditioner when bathing. Coat; keep in mind that at the end of winter and the end of Summer, Horses will start to grow in new coats the previous coat will die and often this dead hair will be more susceptible to sun bleaching /turning red. So don't worry the new coat will be back to black. You just have to be patient. Tip; remember to rinse off sweat area's, sweat left on the coat is salty and will cause bleaching. You can sponge sweaty area with minimal water in the winter and then allow the horse to dry under a cooler. In summer you can of course go for the full rinse. There are also nice concentrated natural rinses that you can add to your rinse water that help replenish the coats natural oils. If the coat becomes to dried out from many washings, that can also cause bleaching.

This is a commonalty asked Question. Tall and narrow vers. wide and round. One will notice that more of the horses that are breed in the US or that have been here for several years have rounder hoofs in front, in Holland they shoe them much more upright then we do here, overtime making the hoof taller and narrower in appearance. They shoe them that way so that the horses move with much higher knee action, you have to remember that In the Netherlands Friesians are used for carriage, If those that ride often double as a carriage horse. If you have an recent Import You can of course overtime allow the hoofs to be widened by your shoer. Friesians with wide hoof often wear a size 3-4 shoe, and many Friesians never require shoes at all.

There are currently more than 30,000 Friesians registered worldwide in the Dutch Friesch Paarden Stamboek. Approximately 2,000 of those horses are in North America.

1) Friesians have heart problems.
This is not true, the truth is that Friesian horse are considered a medium weight draft breed and have a slower heart rate then a Warmblood or hotblood ( horse with Arabian or Thoroughbred blood) Therefore they do not get a second wind and can tire more quickly.Pushing them past to point of exhaustion, when they cannot get there breath is not recommend.
2) All Friesians die of colic.
This is untrue, due to the fact that Friesian's are a rare breed of horse and are small in number, each horse that passes away is noted by many, there has never been any studies or tests done that prove that Friesian horses are more susceptible to colic then any other breed of horse.
3) Friesian horses cost more to shoe then other horses.
This is mostly untrue, most Friesians use a size 3-4 shoe which is within the normal rage, i.e. not draft size, rarely does a Friesian use a size 5 which would then place them into draft size and the farrier would put the price up accordingly.
If you are worried about costs incurred find out the size shoe the horse you are interested uses and ask your farrier what her would charge.
4) All Friesians are lazy
All I can say to that is be careful! this is not the case every horse is different and there can be 'hot' Friesians as well as 'lazy' ones. In my experience I have found that the difference is usually due to the type of training the horse has received and the condition the horse is in.
5) Friesians don't score well in dressage
Wrong again, only in the last few years have Friesians shown up in the US dressage rings. They have consistently done well in Europe, in the US are scoring very high on average, with several making USDF horse of the year. There was even a mare long listed for the Grand Prix Olympic Dressage team.
6) All Friesians Have Skin Disorders
Some Friesians get skins disorders, but no more then any other horses. Common Skin disorders are; itchy heels- often caused by poor cleanliness of the feathers or standing in mud. Itchy mane and tail- often caused by the 'No-Se-um fly', worms or again poor care of mane and tail cleanliness. It is a good idea to check conditions on local horses in your area. Also humid climates can attribute to skin conditions. the itchy's can be treated by shampooing hair with a human product called Nizoral AD an anti dandruff shampoo. It has worked very well for this.
7) All Friesians Have Hard Mouths
This is not true, a mouth is what you make it, if a horse, any horse, is ridden incorrectly it can become hard in the mouth. Friesians in general are very easy to ride in a round frame. A horse that has been a driving horse in a team may need to be re-educated, however a hard mouth can always be corrected.