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Friesian Cross/Friesian Sporthorse


Friesian Sporthorse History and Origins

The practice of crossbreeding Friesian horses has been common since the late 19th century, when Friesians were quite popular in the Netherlands and Germany. Even so, registries did not recognize the offspring of these crossbred individuals for decades to come.

In 2007, a studbook for Friesian Sporthorses was founded by the Friesian Sporthorse Association, also known as the FSA. The FSA trademarked the name Friesian Sporthorse the following year.

The FSA was initially founded in the United States, but shortly thereafter a branch was added in Australia, and the Friesian Sporthorse Association now registers Friesian Sporthorses worldwide.

Friesian Sporthorse Size

The average height of a Friesian Sporthorse is about 16 hands high, or about 64 inches, but Friesians typically vary between 15.2 and 17 hands in height, which is equivalent to 58 to 68 inches.

Friesians, with their muscular physique, can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds or as light as 1,200 pounds, meaning they are quite a large horse breed.

Breeding and Uses

Throughout their history, Friesian Sporthorses were extensively used as workhorses in the agricultural sector due to their strength and temperament. But as the need for such agricultural workhorses declined, the breed became popular for recreational uses and competitions, notably dressage. In general, these horses can excel in almost any area—from the show ring to casual family rides. This breed is very well-rounded.

Friesian Sporthorses can often also be seen pulling wagons or dressed up for all sorts of events. Because of their strength combined with their gentle, family-friendly attitude, the breed is a great choice for those looking for a
low-risk horse to incorporate into an elaborate event.

Colours and Markings

Typically, Friesian Sporthorses are solid black. The FSA does not consider a pure black coat part of the breed standard, however. Their organization recognizes all colours and markings, though some cannot be achieved without the use of non-approved, non-sport breeds, which isn’t recommended. Friesians are usually found with chestnut, white, and black coat colours and markings, with chestnut being a relatively rare colour variant.

Unique Characteristics of the Friesian Sporthorse

While the Friesian Sporthorse is athletic and muscular, individuals are sometimes built more baroque in appearance compared to other sporthorses. Similar to other baroque breeds, Friesians have strong, muscular hindquarters, thick necks, and full manes and tails. This is quite a unique appearance among sport breeds, making the Friesian Sporthorse stand out.

Friesian Sporthorse Breed Standard / Breeding Objective

Friesian Sporthorses are sleek, elegant horses that are specifically bred for sporting events, hence their name. They are a Friesian crossbreed of the sport horse type. Friesian horses, originating in the Netherlands and Germany, are graceful and nimble horses that are typically used for recreation, while their athletic Friesian Sporthorse relatives are often used for competitions and performances. 

Although Friesian Sporthorses are athletic enough to perform well in jumping competitions and the like, the breed is also sought out for recreational purposes by individuals, especially trail riders. They are gentle and careful enough to accommodate riders of all ages.

The goal of breeding a Friesian Sporthorse is to create a quality horse of sporthorse type, building on the qualities of the Friesian.  Breeding horses should be carefully selected for their Sporthorse qualities and potential to create Sporthorses.  As with any good Sporthorse or Warmblood breeding program, only top quality horses should be used for breeding.  The crossbreeding of Friesian, Warmblood, and carefully selected Thoroughbred stock has proven to be the most successful for creating a true Friesian Sporthorse.  However, based on the success of crossbreeding the Friesian with a few specific non-traditional Sporthorse breeds, allowances have been made to accept limited percentages of blood from these specific non-traditional breeds.

Basic Registration:

Horses must be 25% - 99% Friesian. 

(Exception -- the Friesian Warmblood Book, see below.) Friesian Sporthorses are generally of a middle weight sport or Baroque type, often with the higher and more arched neck set of the Friesian. They frequently have the thicker mane, tail, and feather of the Friesian.

Registration is divided into the following books:

Main Book, Auxiliary Book, Friesian Warmblood Book, and Foundation Book.


Main Book -- Must be able to prove a minimum of three consecutive generations of sport breeding / pedigree.  Sire and Dam must be one of the following:  Friesian, Warmblood (Erkend registries), Thoroughbred, Georgian Grande, Andalusian/Lusitano/PRE, Main Book registered Friesian Sporthorses, Auxiliary Book Friesian Sporthorse mares who are registered in the Bronze Elite Book or higher, and/or any Friesian Sporthorses Approved for Breeding.   


Auxiliary Book --  Must be able to prove a minimum of three consecutive generations of sport breeding / pedigree, with the following allowances:  Maximum 50% Saddlebred. Maximum 25% draft or Arabian.  

Friesian Warmblood Book -- Must be able to prove a minimum of three consecutive generations of Friesian and Warmblood and/or Thoroughbred breeding / pedigree.  The Friesian Warmblood Book is for horses with 12.5% - 24.99% Friesian blood, and 87.5% - 75.01% Warmblood and/or Thoroughbred blood.  

Information courtesy of the Friesian Sporthorse Association

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