Char and I attended our first Michigan area Keuring event in Ionia, MI, in September based on our desire to “meet” Friesians in person and learn more about those who own them. Like most show horse owners and breeders, the people we met were enthusiastic about their prized animals and into the details of judging. We found the owners were very friendly while patiently educating us on the breed and the Keuring system and criteria.
According to the very thorough Keuring program for the September event, there are three major areas of Friesian evaluation. They are 1) Exterior and Movement, 2) Use—i.e., judged in riding, on a lead, and under harness—and 3) Vitality and Health (FHANA Royal Friesian, 2016). Today, I’ll address the Breed characteristics that are important to classic Friesians.
The best Friesians make a luxurious and proud impression. Evident qualities include a “characteristic front; abundance of hair; black color (the more shimmery the better, I think!); and roomy, elevated gaits (knee action)” (FHANA Royal Friesian, 2016, p. 57).
The Friesian’s head is “small, noble, expressive” with eyes “placed far apart” (FHANA Royal Friesian, 2016, p. 57). There are several other detailed descriptive traits of the head, which only an experienced Keuring official might notice. The neck is long and elevated and muscular. This combination presents a very distinct appearance. Their hair (mane, tail, feathers) is ABUNDANT! Owners I’ve consulted say they must regularly trim the tail so it won’t drag the ground. They will braid the main and tail when not in competition to keep them neat. Beautiful wavy appearance results when the braids are undone–great for show! And oh yes, the feathers. Feathers refer to hair that grows on each leg around the fetlock (just below the canon bone), reaching down to the hoof. This hair adds to the regal appearance of Friesians as they prance.
Finally, regarding the coloring, I mentioned black is a must. Judges will allow white markings “if they do not exceed 3.2 cm and are not located below the eye line” (FHANA Royal Friesian, 2016, p. 57). These are just a few of the traits judges notice as they determine whether a Friesian is worthy of the studbook, as we in North America call it.
Next time I’ll elaborate on the classic Friesian build, as well as your opportunity to view these majestic creatures up close and personal.
FHANA Royal Friesian (2015). Frequently Asked Questions: Registration and Transfer Information. Site by Energize.info (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.fhana.com/the-fresian-horse/faq
FHANA Royal Friesian (2016). 2016 FHANA Keuring Program – Ionia, MI. Published by Dahl Graphics & Printing (2016).