The Modern Friesian
The discussion about whether the development of the Friesian with more emphasis on suitability for sports and movement will be to the detriment of the racial features is a very relevant discussion.
This development has lead to a significant change in the exterior of the Friesian, being longer legged, upwardly build, longer in the back, a less sloping croup. The trend for the hair (mane, tail, legs) has mainly remained the same. A reduction of this and other racial characteristics is not acceptable and the studbook is monitoring these trends closely.
The racial features make the Friesian horse unique en determine largely the attractiveness and value of the breed. The racial charactaristics remain untouchable - extracted from an article by Ids Hellinga, director KFPS.
In the update from the KFPS breeding council (Phryso April 2011) the following information was provided:
Next to initiating of breeding research, the breeding council involves itself with monitoring the current breeding strategy. Recently they looked at (as a result of questions from members) if the increasing role of sport in the breeding goals is not to the detriment of the racial type.
On the basis of genetic trends (the trend of genetic characteristics per year) it has been determined that there is no reduction in the racial characteristics. There is a clear genetic progress in head expression, length of neck, position of the neck and hair colour. For hair (quality and quantity of hair in mane, tail and on the legs) we see a slight genetic progress. For hair the objective is more aimed at maintenance rather than more hair.
A misunderstanding is that often in this discussion the aim of breeding a longer legged, more upwardly built horse is related to racial type. These are characteristics of the build of a horse. The difference between racial and build characteristics is that the racial characteristics are not allowed to be changed.
The build of the Friesian Horse has changed over decennia depending on the function the horse was used for.