The Animal World Featured Pet for this week is: The Friesian Horse!
When thinking of a Friesian Horse, most people immediately think of a beautiful and elegant black horse with manes and tails that are long, thick and flowing. Indeed, these horses are very beautiful and they actually are used as dressage and carriage horses in many places! Historically, these horses came from Friesland (hence its name), and is thought to have come from the old Forest Horse. Very interestingly, both German and Friesian knights rode these horses during the crusades! Also pretty neat are the other horse breeds that were influenced from the Friesian – such as the Shire horse, the Oldenburger, and the Fell and Dale ponies.
I, of course, have a love for horses. Growing up I had two horses. One was an Arabian named Orion who I had when I was younger and the other was an all-black horse named Leo. Leo was not a Friesian, but he was a wonderful horse all the same and I rode him at the end of my high school years and through most of college. I think that Leo was the horse who really gave me an awe of Friesians, just because he was all-black.
In general, Friesians have the reputation of being very gentle, willing to train, and pretty much wonderful horses. They are considered a light horse breed, which means that they usually weigh under 1500 pounds and are good horses for leisure riding, showing, and some light ranch work. They have long hair on their lower legs which is usually not trimmed and looks like “feathering.” They stand on average 15 hands high and are muscular and compact. Because of their thick manes and tails and the hair on their lower legs, they need quite a bit of regular grooming to keep them looking nice.
Recently Friesians have become more and more popular in the film industry. They became “famous” from the popular stallion Othello who first aired in the film Ladyhawke in 1985. More recently Friesians have been used in the moves The Mask of Zorro, 300 and Eragon. In other forms of entertainment, they are often shown off at horse shows and used in circus acts.
If you are looking into obtaining a Friesian, they are available pretty readily in both Europe and the United States. They can be quite expensive if they are trained, however you can purchase them for cheaper if you are willing and able to get them younger and train them yourself.
One disease you will want to keep an eye out for in your young and rapidly growing Friesian is a disease called Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). This can occur in horses that will mature to be over 15 hands and is basically occurs when cartilage at the end of growing bones breaks down rather than turning into bone. These pieces that break off can turn into painful bone cysts which will cause pain and inflammation in any joint that this occurs at. Treatments that can work to either fix or reduce symptoms include surgery, rest, and joint injections.
Another infection that Friesians can be prone to is a disease called Scratches. This is basically scabbing that occurs due to excess moisture in certain areas that don’t always get a chance to dry such as the pastern and fetlocks (around the horses hooves). The best solutions are to just dry out the area and possibly scrub the area with an iodine scrub for a few days if needed.
If you would like to learn more about the fascinating Friesians, their history and just general horse care, check out theFriesian page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.