Like many breeds, the origins of the Friesian are hazy until early modern times. It has been argued that Friesian horses are the descendants of horses belonging to the Iron Age tribes that occupied the area in pre-Roman times. After the Roman occupation, some of the men and horses from the region were sent to Hadrian’s Wall as auxiliary cavalry. It’s certainly true that the tribes of the lower Rhine area were excellent cavalrymen, and the Batavians in particular had a reputation that was so high they became Caesar’s imperial horse guard. However, much of the information is conjectural. It’s likely that ancestors of the Friesian horse were used as warhorses and riding horses during medieval times. The picture becomes clearer during the 16th and 17th centuries, when the area that is now the Netherlands came under Spanish rule and their horses influenced the foundation of the breed. In modern times, Friesians were the horse of choice for farmers since they could do agricultural work and also take part in trotting races. They were also beautiful in appearance and easy to keep, thus drawing parallels with another excellent all-rounder, the Cleveland Bay, bred by Yorkshire farmers. The Friesian studbook was formed in 1879.
Friesian horses in equestrianism
Now that horses are no longer required in agriculture, the handsome Friesian still finds plenty of work in the media. These stunning looking horses are much in demand for carriage and coach work, as well as being dressage and High School stars. They thrive on work and new challenges, needing plenty to occupy them.