What are Friesian horses used for? 5 uses that may surprise!

What are Friesian horses used for? 5 uses that may surprise!

My son and I were admiring some of the entries at a horse show when we saw a large Friesian horse tied to a trailer. My son asked me what I thought it was here for. I told him I didn’t know and wasn’t sure what Friesian horses were used for. We walked over to the trailer and asked the owner; she told us he was there to compete in the show.

The Friesian horse is a versatile breed that is often used for everything from riding and driving to dressage and show jumping. Friesian horses are known for their strong build, black coat, and long mane and tail. They are also intelligent and eager to please, making them a popular choice for many different disciplines.

Are you thinking about adding a Friesian horse to your stable? These horses are definitely unique and have a lot of personality, but will they meet your needs? What kind of care do they need? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before bringing home a Friesian horse.

1. Friesian stallions were ridden into battle

Friesian horses are big powerful horses that carried warriors to battle for centuries; they also possess an even-tempered and calm demeanor. Friesians are willing learners, social, and desire to please their owners—desirable characteristics for any horse.

Friesian stallions were ridden into battle for the first time during the 4th century. Ancient text from the period documented warriors mounted on Friesian stallions. These majestic creatures were prized for their strength and size, and they quickly became one of the most popular warhorses of their time.

Friesians were also known for their calm temperament, which made them ideal candidates for carrying knights into battle. Their use as a battle steed continued for centuries, and they were the chosen horse of knights during the crusades.

The original massive-bodied Friesian was crossed with Arabians in the 15th century, which resulted in a lighter horse with more athleticism and endurance. During the latter part of the 19th century, Friesians were used for pulling carriages and competing in trotting races.

In addition to being used in warfare, Friesian stallions were used in ceremonial parades and as carriage horses. Friesian horse’s primary use in the latter 19th and early twentieth centuries was as a draft breed in farming operations.

Breeders during this period bred the Friesian for pulling power. Thanks to their impressive history, Friesian stallions will always be revered as one of the noblest and most courageous breeds of horses.

2. Friesians compete in dressage

Friesian horses have a remarkable track record in the sport of dressage. Both classic and modern types have demonstrated success in dressage competitions, but the modern type seems to be better suited for contemporary dressage.

For instance, Adel 357, a Friesian stallion, competed in the International Grand Prix and performed exceptionally well. There are two primary types of dressage competitions: classical dressage and modern dressage.

Modern dressage is derived from classical dressage and allows any horse to start competing at the first level. However, classical dressage includes high-level movements that may exceed the capabilities of some horse breeds. Nonetheless, Friesian horses can compete in either class of dressage, making them an ideal breed for dressage enthusiasts.

Why Friesians make an excellent dressage horse

Friesian horses make excellent dressage horses for a variety of reasons. First, they have a willing and even temperament that is well-suited for the challenging mental and physical work required in dressage. While some breeds can sour during training, Friesians tend to enjoy the process.

Additionally, Friesians have the ideal conformation for dressage. An ideal dressage horse has an “uphill” appearance and portrays strength, balance, and symmetry. Friesians have a natural uphill build, with a relatively long foreleg and shoulder with space to extend their foreleg far out front.

They are proportionate when looking at the length of the front end, back, and hindquarters. This conformation affects a horse’s soundness, quality of gaits, and balance. As the horse progresses in its training, any conformational defects will hamper its development. With their natural uphill build and proportionate conformation, Friesians are well-equipped to excel in dressage.

Additionally, their striking appearance and beautiful movements make them an excellent choice for competitions, as they are sure to catch the judges’ eyes. Overall, Friesian horses‘ natural abilities and temperaments make them an excellent choice for dressage riders and enthusiasts alike.

3. Friesians are good trail-riding horses

Friesians are a type of horse that is known for their elegant movement and flowing manes. They are also incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, including trail riding. Trail riding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise, and Friesians are the perfect horses for the job.

They are sure-footed and have a calm temperament, making them ideal for novice riders. Furthermore, Friesians’ striking appearance is sure to turn heads on the trail. So if you’re looking for a beautiful and versatile horse, a Friesian is a perfect choice.

Why Friesians are good trail riding horses

Friesian horses, known for their elegant appearance and grace in the arena, are also great for trail riding. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Calm Temperament: Friesians have a gentle and calm personality, which makes them easy to handle on the trail. They are known for their willingness to please their rider, and they enjoy exploring new trails and environments.
  2. Comfortable Gait: Friesians have smooth and comfortable gaits, which makes for a comfortable ride on long trail rides. They have a natural ability to maintain a steady pace, which is essential when traveling long distances.
  3. Stamina: Friesians are strong and sturdy horses, which makes them ideal for long rides. They have the stamina to cover long distances without tiring easily, making them perfect for riders who enjoy multi-day trail rides.
  4. Versatility: Friesians are adaptable and can be trained to handle various terrain types, including steep inclines, rocky paths, and water crossings. They can also carry heavy loads, making them a popular choice for pack trips.

Overall, Friesian horses are excellent trail riding companions due to their calm temperament, comfortable gait, stamina, and versatility. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, a Friesian horse is sure to provide a safe and enjoyable trail riding experience.

Traits of a good trail riding horse.

First and foremost, a good trail-riding horse needs a calm disposition. While riding through the woods, expect the unexpected to happen. A stray dog charged our group on my most recent ride, and my horse didn’t blink. Riding a horse that you are confident won’t bolt when surprised is extremely comforting.

Next, make sure your horse can be around other horses without causing a ruckus. A horse’s ability to get along with other horses will make your trail ride much more enjoyable.

You want a horse that travels well. Your horse needs to be able to keep a good steady pace. Riding a horse that continually goes too slow or too fast is aggravating. Your trail horse needs to be able to travel with a pack.

A good trail horse must be surefooted and have healthy, sturdy feet. When riding, you may elect to go off the beaten path and pursue a more rugged terrain, and you don’t want to be on the back of a horse with unsound feet during a trail ride. Friesian horses are sturdy horses with durable feet.

Friesians transported knights to distant battles across Europe in past centuries. They have the right temperament, conformation, and track record to distinguish their breed as good trail riding partners.

Friesian horses are ideal carriage horses with their fluid movements and powerful hindquarters. Before the advent of the industrial revolution, carriage horses were typical transportation for families.

A quality carriage horse must have a calm disposition, be physically strong, and have a hardy conformation and spaciousness of gait. These traits are present in the Friesian horse breed; also, they possess a stunning visual quality with their flowing mane, black coloring, and high knee action.

Friesians even have a carriage specifically designed just for them. It’s called the Friesian Sjees. The Friesian Sjees are exquisite, with no two built precisely alike. The photo above depicts a classic-styled Friesian Sjees.

5. Friesian horses are used in movies and television

Friesian horses are a popular choice for use in movies and television. Their elegant appearance and powerful build make them perfect for heroic roles, while their calm temperament ensures that they can work long hours on set.

Friesian horses have also been used in a number of iconic movie scenes, including the charge of the Rohirrim in Lord of the Rings and the approach of the White Walkers in Game of Thrones. As a result, Friesian horses have become synonymous with Hollywood glamour, and their popularity shows no signs of waning.

Friesian horses, with their gleaming ebony coats, long feathers, and flowing manes, are the desired breed in film and TV, especially for historical and fantasy dramas. Friesian horses made their debut into popular culture in the 1985 movie “Ladyhawke” and have since been a staple in the movie industry ever since.

Friesian horses in Hollywood

The following is a partial list of films and television shows with Friesian horses:

  • Alexander: A 2004 film about Alexander the Great. Alexander’s horse, Bucephalus, is played by a Friesian. The legend of how Alexander broke the horse to ride is depicted in the clip above.
  • 300– The Persian army was aboard Friesian when they threatened the Spartans
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in one episode, Spartacus rides off with his wife riding a Friesian
  • In the Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro, the role of Toronado, Zorro’s beloved horse, is often played by Friesians.
  • Once Upon a Time: ABC fantasy series uses Friesians in multiple episodes
  • Your Highness a Universal Pictures production, also uses Friesians.
  • Catching Fire, the second film of the Hunger Games trilogy, you can see Friesians.
  • Time Machine, a 2002 remake of the HG Wells classic starring Guy Pierce, included Friesians in a futuristic role.
  • Kate & Leopold, An English Duke, played by Hugh Jackman, is transported from 1876 to modern-day New York. Friesian horses have a cameo in the film.
  • Amistad– In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish-owned ship caused controversy for Anthony Hopkins when the ship was captured off the coast of Long Island. Friesian horses are present in the movie.
  • Click here to read our list of the 6 best horse racing movies.

Unusual Uses of Friesian Horses

While Friesian horses have been traditionally used for farm work, transportation, and riding, they have also found themselves in some unique and surprising roles. From therapy animals to police patrols, these versatile horses have proven their worth.

Therapy Horses:

Friesian horses are well-known for their majestic appearance and kind disposition, which makes them excellent candidates for therapy horses. These horses are used to provide therapy and emotional support to individuals suffering from various mental and physical health conditions.

Therapy horses can provide a calming presence and can help individuals develop trust and confidence. The gentle nature of Friesian horses makes them ideal for this type of work, and they have been used in various therapy programs around the world.

Police and Law Enforcement

Friesian horses have also been used in police and law enforcement work. These horses are used for crowd control, search and rescue operations, and mounted patrols. The imposing presence of Friesian horses can help deter criminal activity, and their agility and speed make them valuable assets in emergency situations. Friesian horses have been used in police and law enforcement work around the world, including in the United States and the Netherlands.

Despite their traditional use as workhorses on farms, Friesian horses have proven to be versatile and adaptable animals that excel in a variety of roles. Their beauty, intelligence, and gentle nature make them ideal for a wide range of uses. Their popularity continues to grow as more people discover the unique qualities of this remarkable breed.

Unique Characteristics of Friesian Horses

The Friesian horse breed possesses unique traits that set them apart from other equine breeds. From their striking black coat to their gentle temperament and intelligence, they have become a favorite of many horse enthusiasts.

A. Appearance: Friesian horses are instantly recognizable by their striking black coat, which is long, shiny, and luxurious. They also have a long, flowing mane and tail, which is often styled to showcase their beauty. Their legs are feathered, meaning that there is longer hair on the lower legs, which adds to their majestic appearance.

B. Temperament: Friesian horses are known for their gentle and calm temperament, making them an excellent choice for riders of all levels. They are easy to handle and typically have a willingness to please their rider. Friesians are also known for their friendliness, and they enjoy human interaction.

C. Intelligence: Friesian horses are considered to be intelligent animals and are known for their ability to learn quickly. They are often described as eager learners and enjoy working with their handlers. This intelligence also makes them adaptable to different situations and disciplines, which is why they are used in various settings, from sports to therapy.

There’s more than one type of Friesian horse.

The Friesian is versatile enough to use in the dressage ring and driving competitions. Today Friesians are used for recreation, breeding, equine sports, and often multiple combinations of these activities. Friesian horses come in various body types, such as the Baroque type, Classic, Sports horse, and Modern Friesians. All the classes are readily seen today.

The Baroque Friesian horse.

The Baroque-type Friesian has a stout build and is short-legged and compact. Baroque Friesians were built for driving and gained popularity in the latter part of the 18th century.

This body type is what most people think of when they hear the Friesian name. The Baroque type of Friesian has high knee action and a sturdy bone structure covered with thick muscle. Of course, they have lush manes and tails with heavy feathering of their lower legs.

The Friesian Sporthorse.

Friesian Sporthorses are a relatively new breed of horse; they aren’t purebred Friesians but rather the result of crossbreeding a Friesian with a lighter warmblood or another sporting breed. These horses are specifically bred to compete in equine eventing sports.

Friesian Sporthorses can be any equine color, and their sizes vary from a light sport horse to a heavy baroque build. There is much discussion as to whether or not these horses are a breed or type of horse.

The Friesian Sporthorse is finer-boned and more refined because of this; the modern Friesian is more prevalent in the show ring than the baroque Friesian.

The Modern Friesian.

The Modern Friesian is lighter overall than a typical Friesian, and they have less muscle and bone mass. These are purebred Friesians that have been bred to compete in sporting events.


Friesian horses are an incredible breed with a rich history, unique characteristics, and a wide range of uses. Their striking appearance, gentle temperament, and intelligence make them a popular choice for riders and handlers alike. From their traditional uses in farming and transportation to their modern-day roles in sport, entertainment, and therapy, Friesian horses continue to captivate and impress people around the world.


Are Friesian horses easy to train?

Yes, Friesian horses are easy to train and are generally intelligent, good-natured, and gentle. Friesians are willing to please their riders and learn new commands, making them great equine students.

Are Friesian horses “easy keepers?”

In general, no. Friesian horses are easy keepers in the sense that they are not as demanding as some other horse breeds, but they still need good-quality hay and plenty of clean water and should have access to fresh pasture if possible.


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