"The Beautiful Black"


Written by Larissa McCutcheon
For Show Ring Sales


The Friesian breed of horse is over 2000 years old and is one of the purest representatives of the European horse.

The breed has a very rich history and is pictured in many paintings with the nobility of Europe . For those of you who have had the opportunity to travel to England you may have seen pictures of them, or perhaps seen them in action, acting as the carriage horses for the elite shopping centre of 'Harrods'.

The Friesian was used as a war horse by Friesian soldiers fighting with the Norman Armies, and later used by knights and travelled all the way to the Middle East with the Crusaders. In the seventeenth century, Iberian horses who had been left in the Netherlands influenced the breed and led them to be more refined with a higher extravagant action.

In later times the Friesian was used on the land but this lapsed with the advent of farm machinery. The Friesian was also used as a fast trotting coach horse, and it was in fact the Friesian who was the original horse used in trotting races over short distances (320 metres) in the 18th century. At the same time ringdriving (ring spearing) became popular as a recreational sport with these versatile animals.

The Friesian has been used to form the basis of many breeds such as the Shire, New Forest , Oldenburger, Gelderlander, Orlov Trotter and was recently used to revive the Kladruber breed.

The Friesian itself has faced near extinction several times, and was saved by a group of dedicated breeders in Friesland, a northern province of Holland in 1913. At this stage there were only three studbook stallions left in the world. The herdbook of the Friesian horse, the "FPS - Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek" is the oldest and most strict in the world and was founded in 1879.

Breeding is done under strict guidelines such as selection, performance testing and classification to ensure the high quality of the breed remains.

There are around 40 FPS Studbook approved stallions in the world.  These stallions can be found in Holland and America . Purebred mare owners are advised to use these stallions, through live service or frozen semen to be able to register progeny in the main studbook.  A subsidiary register (B Book) has been made available for countries outside of America and Holland , where there are no studbook stallions.  In these countries foal book stallions are able to be used. Many breeders around the world are taking advantage of modern technology and using frozen semen from the FPS approved stallions and some are also succesfully using embryo transfer coupled with frozen semen in America .

Friesian horses range on average from 15 hands to 16.2  It is not unheard of to have a Friesian horse standing at 17 hands.  The movement of the Friesian horse must be extravagant to catch the eye of the FPS judges who rate these horses first of all as weanlings and give them a premium rating from one to three.  First and second is very desirable for any one interested in importing. 

The Friesian horse is again rated at adulthood and if they are exceptional, they are given certain predicates such as star, model, preferent, performance mother or for the small amount of stallions that make it to the FPS approved status, preferent for the very best of them.  FPS approved Friesian stallions have to fight hard to keep their approval rating, as the quality of their off spring is assessed each year.  If the progeny is not to be seen making a positive contribution to the breed, the approval rating is taken away.

For countries outside of America and Holland it is recommended to people, if they are interested in importing one of these beautiful horses, to do a lot of homework, and where ever possible choose progeny from only approved stallions who's progeny have also passed inspection over four years of age from dam's that have predicates such as star and model for at least three generations.

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Friesian Horses

Copyright 2006 by Knapp Friesian Foundation, Inc. and published with permission.


Appearance and Temperament

Friesian Horses are noted for their striking physical appearance. There is truly no other breed similar to the Friesian.  The black color ranges from seal brown to true jet-black but summer sun, shedding or sweat can bleach the horses' coats to a lighter shade. Selective breeding minimizes white markings and white on the body, legs or feet is considered undesirable in breeding horses. The long, thick manes and tails and abundant fetlock hair are traditionally left full and natural, emphasizing these appealing characteristics of the breed. 

Friesians have the normal gaits of walk, trot and canter. Long tradition among the breeders has emphasized the Friesian's trot, resulting in a “big” trot. 

Friesians can be found in many different sizes but the most typical height is 15.3 to 16.1 hands. They are relatively heavy-boned and even the most refined Friesians have lots of substance. An average weight for an adult Friesian is 1300 pounds or more. 

Many people are attracted to the breed because of its reputation for good temperament, one of the criteria on which stallions are selected for breeding approval. The horses are typically tractable and sensible but lively. As with any breed, knowledgeable, consistent training is essential.

One should avoid generalizing too much about Friesians. In spite of their uniform black color, each Friesian Horse is an individual with his or her own unique physical characteristics and personality


The Friesian is an all-around horse with an impressive appearance that guarantees
second look wherever it goes.

Widely known as outstanding carriage horses for both show and pleasure driving, they excel in the carriage driving show ring for everything from single to four-in-hand. Friesians have also been successful in the physically demanding sport of combined driving, although to reach the highest levels of this internationally competitive sport the horses require prudent selection and conditioning. But most Friesian owners who drive their horses simply enjoy them on the roads and tracks near their homes.

Many new Friesian owners plan to ride their horses. Because of this the horses are increasingly being bred for suitability as riding horses. Many Friesian owners enjoy riding English but others prefer a western saddle for pleasure or trails. Although only a small number of Friesians are currently competing at the upper levels of dressage, Friesians are more and more common in the dressage ring. Considering the breed's small number of dressage competitors, Friesians have done remarkably well in this sport.

Unlike many other European warmbloods, the Friesian has not been bred as a jumping horse. However some owners enjoy jumping their horses and some Friesians do well.

And because the Friesian combines showiness with achievement, they are crowd favorites in exhibitions. Audiences seem to enjoy them as much for their stunning appearance as for their actual talents.

Friesian horses are often categorized as driving type or riding type depending on their conformation and style of movement. But many horses are routinely trained both under saddle and in harness, making them true all-around horses.


The Friesian horse has a long and romantic history. The breed developed many centuries ago in Friesland, in Northwestern Europe , which is now a part of The Netherlands. By the early Middles Ages, the horse was already known by the name of the area in which it originated. Because of their strength and agility Friesians were coveted war horses and they carried knights in the Crusades and into battle.

Originally descended from Equus robustus (big horse), Andalusian blood was introduced during the 16th and 17th centuries when Spanish stallions were left on the battlefields during Thirty Years War between the Dutch and Spanish. This gave the Friesian horse higher knee action, a relatively small head and an arching neck.

Throughout the ages breeding horses and dealing in them was very important to the Friesian people. Before the Reformation, monks in many Friesian monasteries were skilled horse breeders.

At various times in their long history the versatile Friesians were used in the classical riding schools of Europe , were bred as racing trotters, were included in royal stables as elegant coach horses, thrilled European crowds as circus horses and also had to perform as light draft and all-purpose horses. 

In spite of its long history, the Friesian breed almost died out by the mid-1960's. But after regaining some visibility in its native Friesland , the Friesian horse soon appeared on the international driving scene. That fueled a strong revival for the breed and in 1974 the first importations of modern times were made to North America . 

Friesian horses now number in the tens of thousands and are found on every inhabited continent. The greatest number of Friesians is still in its native Netherlands , but Germany has thousands of Friesian horses and the Friesian population in North America is growing rapidly. We can expect that the breed will continue to grow steadily in popularity as more and more people discover the magnificent Friesian horse.



The Friesian horse is the product of a carefully monitored breeding system that routinely evaluates and grades all registered horses. The registry encourages breeding for an ideal Friesian horse.

The studbook registry for the Friesian horse was established in 1879 in the Netherlands . To this day, the vast majority of the world's Friesian horses are registered with the original Dutch registry, Het Friesch Paarden Stamboek (The Friesian Horse Studbook) which is also referred to by its initials, FPS.

However within the last decades an additional registries have been established In Germany and America . Although the newer registries are similar in some ways to the FPS, they are not identical. Horses often cannot be dual-registered and are sometimes not transferable from one registry to the other.

FHANA, the Friesian Horse Association of North America, is affiliated with the original Dutch registry and provides services to members on this continent and coordinates between North American Friesian owners and the FPS registry in the Netherlands . Judges come from the Netherlands each fall to evaluate Friesians on this continent. The Friesian Horse Studbook is one of the most carefully controlled registries in the world. Crossbreeding is not endorsed by the registry. Only the offspring of Approved Stallions can be entered into the main Studbook registers.  


Stallions must be approved for breeding in order for their offspring to be eligible for registration in the main Studbook of the Dutch registry.  The selection process for breeding approval evaluates the superiority of pedigree as well as the stallion's movement and conformation. Weeks of further evaluation test the candidate's quality of gaits, abilities under saddle and in harness, brilliance, temperament and trainability.

A stallion's breeding approval is always conditional but the greatest test comes when his oldest offspring reach adulthood. At that time his offspring must demonstrate sufficient quality and sport aptitude to prove that the stallion makes a positive impact on the breed. If not, his breeding approval is withdrawn for the future.

Standards for breeding approval are extremely high and only a handful of young stallions join the ranks of Approved Stallions each year.


Mares and Geldings

In the fall of their year of birth, Friesian foals are evaluated for a premium ranking, implanted with a microchip for permanent identification and entered into the Foal Book register.

When mares and geldings reach adulthood they are presented for entry into the Studbook for Mares or the Studbook for Geldings. They must be at least 14.3 hands high, demonstrate the characteristics of the Friesian Horse and must be black with no white markings on the legs or body. The better horses are awarded a premium and the best 25-30% may be awarded Star status based on their movement and conformation. Superior Foal Book stallions—those not approved for breeding—may also receive the Star designation.

The very, very best of the Star Mares may be designated as Model. Preferential Mares and Performance Mothers receive their designations due to the superior quality or outstanding athletic achievement of their offspring.

Although mares are subject to careful inspection by the judges, they do not require breeding approval like the stallions.


Obtaining a Friesian Horse

Friesian horses may be a somewhat greater financial investment than the average riding horse, with prices similar to those for other European Warmbloods. A prospective buyer should become familiar with the judging/grading system as well as with the designations of status awarded to certain adult horses. A thorough understanding of the registry system is especially important for buyers who are interested in acquiring a horse for breeding.

Prospective buyers should shop around for the horse that best meets their objectives. Sometimes the best horse is not the most expensive one.

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· Friesians are one of the most ancient European breeds of horse and modern Friesians are direct descendants of the horses that medieval knights used to ride into battle.

· Friesian horses come from the same area of the Netherlands as do the more familiar Friesian ( Holstein ) dairy cattle.

· Friesians are a rare breed. There are fewer than 1000 Friesian Horses in the U.S. and Canada .

· The Friesian Registry, which is still based in the Netherlands , maintains very strict standards for stallions. To become approved stallions are judged on conformation, way of going and quality of progeny. There are fewer than 50 approved Friesian stallions in the entire world.

· Friesian horses now only come in black but they originally came in chestnut and grey as well.

· When the Friesian Registry was founded in 1879 there was only one purebred stallion remaining. All of today's Friesians can trace their ancestry back to that one stallion.




Mike Fields Biography


Mike Fields has mastered the design and creation of wildlife bronze sculptures. His attention to fine art and detail has captured the attention of private collectors and businesses around the globe and has set him in an elite group of artists who find success in this challenging field. One reason behind Mike Fields' success is his passion for wildlife art which he expresses through his wildlife sculptures. Sculptor Mike Fields began learning technique, form and design from his father at an early age. Growing and maturing with each new work, he is determined to continue to refine his style and technique in a quest for perfection. With time and consideration, Mike breathes life into his creations and develops his gift for realism with each precise movement of his instrument. Quality workmanship is never compromised in order to release a new work into the marketplace. Each piece can require from 500 to 2000 hours to complete and each new composition demands increased attention to meet his accelerating expectations. “There seems to be subjective as well as objective measures of art. Although art is subjective in its nature, I think objective qualities such as attention to craftsmanship and the depth of thought that go into a work are necessary to support the power of the piece. I am only beginning to understand that art is much more than a mechanical process. A painting or sculpture can be well-executed, yet fail to evoke emotion. I believe the true challenge to an artist is to bring the work to life.” Mike’s deep inquiry into style, culture and methodologies molds his work into powerful pieces. His father’s tutoring emphasized the importance of proper proportions and attention to detail. The journey into the creation of Mike’s own art has added a restless and continuing obsession with improving the depth of his skill and emotion he conveys. “The very recognition of beauty is an art. It is from that recognition that I am beginning to gain a deeper inspiration and I am forever humbled. Art offers a rare opportunity to share a point of view, aesthetically or intellectually with others,” says Mike. Young Fields has already gained recognition from art collectors and dealers nationwide. Mike Fields has began his portfolio with elk, tigers, angels, eagles, red-tailed hawks and a Friesian horse. Mike intends to create more horse sculptures including arabian horses and more friesian horses. He would also like to sculpt leopards, lions, bulls and more human figures.

Chester Fields began his professional career as a painter and draftsman. As a draftsman, he spent two years in the military stationed in Germany working for the Adjutant General at USAREUR Headquarters, at which time he was able to travel throughout Europe during his leave and study the fine art of the masters firsthand, including the esteemed inspirers in history, Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, and Michelangelo. Observing the oil paintings, monuments, and garden statues with an inquisitive eye, Chester Fields kept note of his favorite fine art techniques, and incorporated those into his wildlife art work. The oil paintings left a lasting impression on the yound wildlife artist. After serving in the military, Chester Fields' exceptional portfolio landed him a position at American Sign and Indicator, winning out over 400 other candidates. After four years of creating outstanding art work—a theme consistent with Chester Fields—he launched his independent career as a painter and added many Native American art and wildlife art compositions to his repertoire. A turning point in Chester Fields' career came with his first sculpture, Splashdown, in 1984 depicting an eagle catching a fish. Presently a sold-out edition with only a few monuments remaining, Splashdown continues to be a favorite eagle statue composition. Successfully transitioning from painting to sculpting, and being successful at both, is rare—as these disciplines are quite different in nature. With sculpture, Chester Fields realized his ability to bring the eagles on his canvases to life in three-dimensional form. Chester Fields' wildlife art work is displayed in fine art galleries throughout the United States and Singapore. He has received formal awards and major exhibitions for his fine art and has a respectable record of corporate and private collectors, including Harley Davidson, Chevron Corporation, Jepson Corporation, the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, the Sultan of Brunei, Kristy Yamaguchi, and August A. Busch III. Chester Fields' fine art is purchased and displayed outside as garden statues in front of homes and golf courses and inside collectors' businesses and homes on pedestals or suspended from above. No matter what the collectors' preferences are, it is no doubt that Chester Fields' eagle sculptures and wildlife art are a wonderful addition to any environment. In addition to his collection of wildlife statues, Chester Fields' wildlife art paintings and prints are available for purchase. His Native American paintings were commissioned and can only be viewed in a complete book of art work. Please contact Chester Fields, if you are interested in one of his wildlife art paintings, sculptures, or monuments. Each piece of art work comes with an authentic proof of purchase and instructions how to best care for your Chester Fields fine art. Please take time to enjoy Chester's fine art prints which include: leopard paintings, tiger paintings, deer paintings, pheasant paintings and other wildlife art paintings. Chester Fields is releasing a collection of his wildlife art paintings in fine art prints. These fine art prints will be printed in giclee on canvas. Don't miss this oportunity to get your own fine art print from Chester Fields.


Contact Mike: 509.951.8713


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Mike Fields - Non-Flash Wildlife Art Website -If there is no image above and you don't have flash installed click here.

Mike Fields Bronzes - Site featuring bronze wildlife sculptures by Mike Fields

Chester Fields Bronzes Inc. - Site featuring bronze wildlife sculptures and paintings by Chester Fields

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