Later on, in the 16th and 17th centuries, battle armor started being lighter, so Friesian horses were crossed with Andalusian horses from Spain. This made a breed that ate less, pooped less, and was a better city carriage horse. Friesians were really popular in the 18th and 19th centuries because people wanted them to use as harness horses, for farm work, and in trotting races.
Photo: © Cally Matherly
At the end of the 1800s, a lot of cross-breeding went on with some other breeds, and by the time World War I came along, there weren't many true Friesians left. When people started trying to revive the breed, they could only find three stallions to breed from. So modern purebred Friesians can trace their ancestry back through one of these three bloodlines.
|Photo: © Nadeen|
One problem with having such a small gene pool, like the one the Friesians have, is that a lot of inbreeding goes on to keep the bloodlines pure. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to genetic health issues. Friesians can suffer from conditions such as dwarfism, hydrocephalus, megaesophagus (chronic dilation of the esophagus), a weakened immune system, and aortic rupture.
The Friesian breed is becoming more popular nowadays in a lot of different countries. Cross-breeding with lighter-weight breeds has produced horses that are used for pleasure riding, dressage competition, driving, and as circus horses. Friesians have a high-stepping action that makes them look really flashy when they are pulling carriages. The breed has also become a popular choice for use in movies, like for example, Ladyhawke, Eragon, The Mask of Zorro, Alexander, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Clash of the Titans, and Conan the Barbarian.
So anyway, if you like this breed, but you don't have room for a Friesian in your back yard, you can just watch one of these movies instead. At least, that's what I would recommend.