Thinking of buying a Friesian? Then look no further than FHAGBI's comprehensive buyer's guide.
It can be an extremely exciting, yet daunting task when you are searching for a new horse. It is a serious long-term commitment that is both time and financially expensive and it is imperative to take the time to explore all your options and be as prepared as you can when viewing potential horses.
As with any breed of horse, there can be pitfalls involved in buying a Friesian horse and FHAGBI is here to ensure, wherever possible, that members are as well informed as possible in order to buy a happy, healthy and correct horse that is best suited for their needs. This is done via this website, quarterly newsletters, specialised talks at social gatherings and personal contact with other members or more generally, directly with members of the Board and committee. Click here if you would like more information about becoming a FHAGBI member.
If you have already decided that your first/next horse is going to be Friesian, then we hope this special FHAGBI Friesian Buyer's Guide will aid you in the process.
FRIESIAN BUYER'S GUIDE
The Friesian breed
The Friesian horse is the only horse breed native to the Netherlands and can be traced back as far as the 13th century. A consistent breeding policy has produced the Friesian horse we are familiar with today, exhibiting the unique characteristics of the breed and continuing to bear close resemblance to its ancestors. Typical of the Friesian is the front, the majestic mane and feathering of the lower legs, the jet black colour and the spacious, powerful elevated gaits. The harmonious build and the noble head, set on a lightly arched neck, complete the aristocratic and fiery appearance. The Friesian horse is willing and versatile and their work ethic is second to none. They excel in a range of equestrian disciplines that varies from recreational use to participation at the highest levels of competition sport. Its intelligence, loyal nature and amicable character is key to the Friesian horse making a great utility breed. Wherever they go, be it out on a local hack or in an international dressage or driving arena, Friesian's are sure to turn heads and soften hearts. Click here to read more about Friesian breed uses.
General points to considerTime/Finance/Facilities
Although owning a horse is extremely rewarding, it is also very time-consuming so you need to be sure you have the time and energy to devote to your four-legged friend every day of the year. Horses aren’t just a big commitment to your time, but also to your wallet! Make sure you are in a financial position where you can afford not only the actual purchase, but the wide variety of costs that come with owning horses, such as feed, vet bills, shoeing and livery.
If you do not have your own land, there is the option of keeping your horse at a livery yard or on private, rented stables/land. Be sure to view all the potential livery yards in your area BEFORE you view any horses. Take note of the livery yards facilities and ask yourself if they will meet your needs. Is there an arena to exercise your horse if needed? Do they offer year-round turn-out? Are horses turned out seperately or in communal herds? And most importantly, is there availability? Some livery yards have long waiting lists so it is very important to have somewhere to keep a horse straight away if you are actively searching/viewing.Fit for purpose?
Will a Friesian fulfil its purpose and your ambitions?
Will the horse be ridden by yourself, or other members of your family?
If you are buying a young Friesian, do you have the time, patience and experience to bring it on?
If you are buying a mare, do you intend to breed from her in the future?
Do you want to compete and if so, straight away?
These are just some of the questions worth thinking of when buying any new horse. Choose your Friesian according to its suitability and ensure it is fit for your purpose.Deal breakers
This could be anything from price or gender, to age or pedigree. For instance, do you want a Friesian by a certain approved stallion? Write a list of points you are not willing to compromise on and stick to them! Additionally, it is worth writing a list of points you are willing to compromise on. This will come in very handy when you begin your search.
What to avoidMissing paperwork
FHAGBI strongly recommends to NEVER buy a Friesian that is missing its passport and/or registration papers (if advertised as KFPS registered). If the Friesian you are interested in is advertised as KFPS registered, make sure you see its passport AND registration paper for yourself, do not take someones word for it. It is an offence (maximum fine £5000) to sell a horse without handing over the passport at the time of the sale. ALWAYS make sure you receive these documents at the time of sale and check the details on the passport and registration papers correlate to the microchip of the horse you are buying.Unregistered Friesians
FHAGBI only recommends purchasing fully KFPS registered Friesians.Scam adverts
There are unfortunately quite a few Friesian adverts on horse sale sites that are scams. If the horse is advertised cheaply, or it sounds too good to be true, then please exercise caution. Signs of a scam advert include;
- The horse is top quality and too cheap.
- The description doesn't match in different parts of the ad. For example, the title will say Friesian mare and further on in the advert it will refer to the horse as a gelding.
- The language of the advert will appear strange. It might mention; trail riding, up to date on coggins, second level dressage, barrel racing, 4 - H prospect, etc. These terms are foreign to the UK riding scene and indicate adverts have been cut and pasted from horse sales sites in other countries.
- The photos of the horse will appear to have been taken in a foreign country (scenery, buildings etc) yet the advert will say it's in the UK.
- The horse will allegedly be in some remote location (outer Hebrides) this is to put you off wanting to view it.
- The advert will seem to have been written by someone who does not have English as a first language. It will either be rambling or very brief.
- The horse is described as 'for adoption'.
If you contact the seller beware if they:
- Won't let you view the horse.
- Have a story about death/illness in the family and state they are giving the horse away free or very cheaply to a good home - only you have to pay for transport up front. You will pay the transport and no horse will arrive!
You can do a few simple checks on the adverts:
- Screen shot the photo and try a 'reverse image search'. Google will show you where the photo appears elsewhere on the web. The photo needs to have something a bit out of the ordinary in it for this to work, not just a black horse against a plain background.
- Google the phone number or name of the seller.
- Cut and paste a small part of the advert into your browser and search - if it's a fake you can find the original advert this way. Use some unique/identifiable part to search on, including a spelling mistake which has been cut and pasted from a real advert into a fake can be a good way to find the original.
- Contact the sales site, say you suspect a scam advert and ask them to check it out. If they take it down, it's a scam.
Finding a Friesian
Firstly, check FHAGBI's Classified section where only KFPS registered horses owned by past/present FHAGBI members are advertised. These adverts will all have been approved by the board.
The KFPS also have a section on their website where KFPS members advertise their Friesian's for sale, although most, if not all of the horses are based in the Netherlands. Click here to view.
Due to the origins of the Friesian horse, they are more prevalent in the Netherlands than in the UK, which means there is a much wider market over there. It is worth seriously considering the option of importing a Friesian from the Netherlands as it is alot less complicated and expensive as people think (see below for more importation advice).
Like most other breeds of horses, Friesian's can be found advertised on most of the horse-sale sites on the web. We do urge any potential buyer's to exercise caution when buying from third-party sales websites. Although the majority are genuine, there are alot of scam adverts that involve Friesians. If it sounds too good to be true, then it very probably is!
There are a few Friesian sale groups on Facebook, however we would still urge buyers to find out as much as possible about the seller and horse before viewing.
There are a number of dealers in Great Britain and Ireland that import Friesian horses from the Netherlands with a wide variety of qualities. There are still only a handful of breeders in the UK who breed in line with the breeding goals and policies of the KFPS.
Friesian's are generally more expensive to buy than our native breeds. Prices vary widely depending on whether the Friesian is KFPS registered or not, age, breeding, gender, quality, training and vendor. It is advisable to do some research into similar Friesian's you are interested in and see what they are being marketed for to get a rough guide price.
It is recommended that you view any potential horse before purchase, especially if you are buying a horse to ride/drive. Where possible, take your instructor or someone with good equestrian experience who you trust for support and advice.
First impressions count, so be sure to take note of not only the horse, but the seller too. When you arrive on the yard, take a look around the horse’s stable and/or field to give you an idea of it's current environment. And don't be afraid to ask questions!
Check the horse's overall condition looking out for the tell-tale signs of old injuries or skin conditions such as sweet itch, which Friesian's can be prone to suffer from. Check the condition of the feet, are they barefoot or shod and does this make any difference to you or the horse?
Ask to see the horse walked and trotted up so you can assess soundness, movement and general conformation.
If you are buying a Friesian to ride/drive, it is always worth asking to tack up/harness the horse yourself. This will give you the opportunity to assess their manners and get a general idea about them. Simple things like ground manners often get overlooked in anticipation of riding/driving a potential, new horse.
It is always advised that someone else rides/drives the horse first so you can briefly see the horse in action. If there is no one available to ride/drive beforehand, always tread carefully before getting on or behind a horse you do not know!
It is worth asking a friend or the owner to video you while you ride/drive so you can look back to reflect objectively when you get home.
Just as you should be asking questions of the seller, the seller should be asking questions of you. Some sellers may insist on a home-check so be prepared to agree to this. A disinterested seller should serve as a warning sign.
Finally, if possible, view the horse more than once to make sure you are 100% sure it is the right horse for you. It is very easy to let your head rule your heart when viewing a horse, especially a Friesian! But it is such a big commitment to go into without thorough and careful consideration.
There are instances where viewing a horse may not always be possible, usually due to location. If you are considering purchasing a Friesian from the UK or the Netherlands and cannot view it in person, make sure you do as much homework as possible. There are many reputable Friesian breeders and dealers in the Netherlands who have sold KFPS Registered Friesians unseen to the UK and will be experienced in dealing with this procedure. Ask for the Friesian's KFPS registration number so you can check the horse against the database on the KFPS website (providing you are a Gold FHAGBI member). Ask to see copies of the horse's passport, registration papers and photos and videos. It is recommended to have a photo/video taken of the seller scanning the microchip so the buyer can see the number and that the microchip is rescanned before the horse is unloaded to confirm the same number. If you are still interested at this stage, it is recommended to arrange a Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE).
Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE)
A pre-purchase examination provides an assessment by means of a clinical examination to identify and assess factors to determine if a horse is suitable for its intended use. It is carried out at the request of a potential purchaser to help them make an informed decision as to whether or not to continue with their purchase. A PPE includes a basic health evaluation (horse's history, temperature, respiration, general condition, conformation etc) and a lameness assessment (flexion tests, movement evaluation etc). Other tests such as blood-work and X-rays are recommended, but can be carried out at the potential buyer's request. FHAGBI recommends that potential buyers arrange a PPE/X-rays to be carried out by an independent veterinarian on any Friesian they intend to buy.
If you do not have your own transport, there are specialised Equine Transport companies that can pick up and deliver your Friesian within the UK and abroad. Although FHGABI cannot recommend any one transport company, please ensure they have the appropriate license and insurance to transport live animals. Word of mouth is always a good way of finding a reputable Equine transporter.
More information on Importation will be coming soon.
Once you have made the decision to buy the Friesian that has stolen your heart, it is time to offically become a Friesian owner!
FHGABI recommends to ALWAYS ensure you are handed the passport and KFPS registration papers (if the horse is KFPS registered) at the time of sale, whether that be collection in person or via a transport company. If the horse's passport or registration papers have been lost, it is up to the seller to request a duplicate. DO NOT buy a horse with a passport or registration paper application form, the seller MUST apply for this themselves.
Make sure you get a RECEIPT for the horse you buy which identifies the horse by its KFPS registration number (if applicable) and microchip number and clearly states the name, address and contact telephone number of the seller along with their signature, the date and amount you have paid. Additionally, it is recommended the microchip is rescanned before the horse is unloaded to confirm the same number.
A new home
You have bought the Friesian of your dreams and it's time to bring them to live at their new home. Most horses will be understandbly excited, nervous or tired after their journey so it is advised to allow the horse time to settle into their new surroundings. A quiet, cosy stable, haynet and bucket of water usually suffices, or if they are being turned out, a fenced off area in or alongside the main field is best. This allows any potential field-mates to come over and say 'hello' first. Being herd animals, there is usually some excitement when a new horse arrives on a yard or enters a field, but as long as introductions are made slowly and safely the excitement usually wears off fairly quickly and peace will once again be restored.
And then it is time to begin your adventure as the proud owner of a beautiful Friesian.
If you are considering buying a Friesian horse, please take your time and learn as much as possible. Quick, uninformed decisions are expensive and heartbreaking. FHAGBI sees its role as a Members Association available to inform, help and guide members in as easy and friendly a way as possible. Therefore, if you have any further questions about buying a Friesian, please do not hesitate to contact us.