The Friesian horse has been growing in popularity for many years now, and though this site is obviously to promote and market our operation, we want it also to be a celebration of the Friesian horse. So, grab a cup of coffee and I’ll bore you to tears about this wonderful breed of ours.
The Friesian horse is reportedly about 3000 years old, don’t ask me where that comes from, I just repeat it, I think from cave drawings or something like that. That horse was not really too much like the animal we have today. About 600 years ago the effort to create and refine the Friesian into a warhorse began and the Friesian changed a bit, into what we have today. And you know what, it is still evolving even today, where we once only had the “old baroque” style we now have a “classic” and even a “modern” version.
One thing that hasn’t changed for over 120 years is the breed standard. The FPS, the official Dutch studbook of the breed, the “mother” studbook, has maintained the breed standard since its inception in 1879. Since the FPS began there has been only one other studbook recognized in the world, the FPZV, but more on that later. Thor is documented with the FPZV and is studbook approved with them, but not the FPS.
The modern day popularity in this country, the USA can be linked to the release of the movie Ladyhawk, starring Rutger Hauer riding the Friesian horse Goliath, properly known as Othello. Seems most of the ladies wayching were either taken by Rutger Hauer, or by Goliath, either way, it is what put Friesians on the map in the US.
In 1974 a quiet gentleman named Tom Hannon imported several mares and a stallion into the US, in Canton Ohio, and the reintroduction of the magnificent Friesian horse into this country began. But it wasn’t the first time it had been here. In the times of colonial settlements, in a district known as New Amsterdam, several of the black beauties were brought over by sailing ships, only to be lost as they never gained sufficient numbers to be propogated as a purebred. But not before they were instrumental in the development of many breeds here. The Naraganset Pacer, the Morgan, the Canadian Horse, and several others.
I visited Tom Hannon in the late 70’s and I must say, his stock and carriages were exempliary, but his barn and carriage house was right out of a magazine. What a setup, I still look in awe at the pictures I have of that day. The reintroduction was really set in motion with the addition of other breeders such as Frank Leyendekker, the DeBoers, Harry Wittiveen and Case Van de Groef. All names synonomous with the Friesian horse in North America.
In the 80’s we fell in love with all that hair and the shiny black coats, In the 90’s we were amazed at the dressage potential of this unlikely warmblood. And in the 21st century we are writing a new and exciting chapter as the Friesian horse grows to such popularity that we want it to be everymans (womans?) horse.
Where do we go from here, the sky’s the limit. We have a breed of horse that transcends time, that evokes images of chivalrous knights and damsels in distress. An animal that has a heart as big as Texas, and a nobility long forgotten. It’s proud stance puts a lump in our throat, it’s kind eye a window to the soul. They will be here as long as we need a champion, and as long as we cherish all that is good and honorable in our lives.