The Frisian, one of the oldest breeds in Europe, originates from Friesland, a region in the northern part of the Netherlands. The first evidence of this breed comes from the Romans, after encountering this horse during the expansion of the empire towards the north Atlantic coast of Europe.
They described them as horses with an awkward appearance, although already recognising their character and predisposition for work.
The heaviness of this horse was the outcome of targeted breeding selection: they had to be capable of performing very heavy tasks as towing oak trunks in large forests. Over time, as man’s needs changed, the appearance of Frisians also changed.
In the Middle Ages, Frisians became the favourite mount of knights in armour because it was difficult to find horses capable of carrying riders in heavy suits of armour at the same time as being agile, fast and able to extricate themselves on difficult and inaccessible terrain.
On returning from the Crusades, the Frisian was improved with the contribution of Arabian and Spanish stock, so much so that it became the elegant coach horse favoured by the nobility.
The Frisian has always proved to be a valuable horse that adapts to pulling loads, agricultural work in general and mounted in the saddle. Gentle and willing, Frisians are easy to train and control. They are widely used in equestrian performances, thanks to their stage presence, as well as in parades or historical re-enactments, performances and tug contests, thanks to their imposing presence and highly marked, brilliant, quick and spectacular gait, especially at the trot.It is highly appreciated as a horse for Dressage, a speciality in which the Netherlands achieves very high levels, and always an excellent coach team horse.