Monday, January 12, 2009

Friesians come in two flavors (who knew?)

Baroque typeBaroque type
I'll be blogging about Friesians and their registry/registries in an upcoming post, but here's a little teaser. It seems that the breed is evolving as it is used for a broadening range of disciplines. Nowadays there is a distinction between the Baroque and the modern sport horse type of Friesian.

The Baroque type is a more traditional Friesian with a heavy build, high knee action, and lots of hair. Baroque type Friesians are built for their traditional use in driving as well as showing, exhibition/performance, and pleasure.

sportSport/modern type
The modern type is lighter and more refined, with a "warmblood movement." The sport Friesian is intended for riding/dressage. They may not have the heavy feathering of the baroque type. As an aspiring dressage rider this modern type just takes my breath away.

While I've lamented the changes that have taken place in some breeds (e.g., the Morgan horse), the development of a sport Friesian seems logical and from what I can tell it is being effected without losing the wonderful characteristics of the breed.

Friesian Heritage Horse Association approved mare
However, it's becoming popular to cross Friesians with other breeds, This is generating controversy in the Friesian world. These crossings and the resulting registries (e.g., the Georgian Grande) leave me feeling skeptical, but I have seen some truly lovely Thoroughbred/Friesian crosses. However successful these crossings are or are not, I hope they develop separate and apart from pure Friesian lines.

Now where was I?
Oh yeah, Baroque vs. sport horse friesians. Here are a few video examples of both types. Both of these stallions are approved and meet the very stringent standards of the Dutch Friesian purebred registry, the KFPS (more on this later):

Baroque type Gradus 356

Modern Sport Type Adel 357


  1. Huh - I did not know that there were two types of Friesians.

    I guess you learn something new every day!

    I think they're very handsome horses. Not purpose-bred for my chosen sport, so it's unlikely I'd own one, but beautiful animals nonetheless.

  2. Like you, I am not thrilled to hear about yet more designer horses...half-Friesians are starting to become as common as half-Arabians and it is disappointing. Kills the breed standard for all the breeds involved. And the “hybrid vigor” isn’t necessarily a good thing, either! I had an NSH and I think it is one of the worst crosses ever to come to be.

  3. I love the look of Friesians - such nice leg movement. The one in the last video had the nicest piaffe - the horse made it look effortless!

  4. Cant decide which ones I like more. Neither would make decent eventers lol

  5. Yes, half Freisians are the cheap way of owning a Freisian. If, like the Arabian breed they keep them "half" forever, it shouldn't be a problem.

    I like the Baroque style, personally. I like the solid body and the high stepping trot. Like so many other people, ever since I first saw the movie, LadyHawke, I've wanted one.

    They do make lovely dressage horses, don't they?

  6. I'm concerned about the half-Friesian fad myself. Around here quite a few backyard horse breeders are breeding them. They were asking, what seemed to be to be, ridiculous prices for untrained youngsters. Now that the market is declining, I've seen them start to be listed for much less (by degrees of 10).

    I admired the Friesian breed a great deal as a kid. They were rare and not popular back then. So it worries me to see a fad causing so many horses to be bred for profit more than quality. (Don't get me started about "Gypsy" horses either!) :)

    Of course I mean this as no slight to someone who owns and loves such a horse. My horse is a mutt and though how he came to be mine is a long story, I love him for who he is, not who his parents are.

  7. I have a Friesian Sporthorse colt. ;) I think there's two kinds of breeding, as with every breed: Backyard breeders who managed to get their hands on a very poor specimen of a Friesian, and true breeders who are truly creating sporthorses. The BYBs are creating pretty fugly crosses and trying to sell them for outrageous amounts, because they're 'Friesians'. The Sporthorse breeders, however, are beginning to create very atheltic horses.
    My colt will be staying a colt unless he proves otherwise. ;) Like every breed, there's a way to do it right and a way to screw it up!

  8. The average Friesian doesn't really "speak to me" but I have seen two Friesian TB crosses that were (IMHO) spectacular. I can still remember the fluidity of the small bay FX that was at our boarding barn -- very first show, at Paxton Farm, this little four year old scored over 70%. A real worker, pleasant, and appealing.

  9. Georgian Grande's primary breed is the American Saddlebred. They are crossed with Frisians and/or Drafts.

    This breed was highlighted in the USDF Connection magazine in November 2009. It included a gorgeous 4 year old mare named Anastasia. She is out of Koning, a modern sport horse type Frisian.

  10. I love the look of Friesians - such nice leg movement. The one in the last photo had the nicest piaffe - the horse made it look effortless!

    gypsy horses

  11. Don't confuse a sport cross with a Friesian sport. FHANA is strict, and recognizes, inspects, approves and registers only purebred friesians be it the baroque type or the sport type. But there are other registries that call crosses "Friesian sport horse".

  12. Baroque vs sport type. These are two very distinctive "types" of Friesians. At a keuring are the FHANA inspectors judging the horse as the type they are, or do they prefer one type over the other ?????

  13. The baroque type Friesian is my third favorite horse of all times. Given that the modern sport type makes me want to cry.

  14. The baroque type Friesian is my third favorite horse of all times. Given that the modern sport type makes me want to cry.


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