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State Seal Kentucky Horse Park
Press Release Date:  April 6, 2005
Contact:  Cindy Rullman, 859-259-4209,

          LEXINGTON, KY  (April 5, 2005) He’s muscular but gentle, self-confident but kind.  He has an air of royalty and loves children.  With looks to die for and a presence that makes the hearts of both men and women skip a beat, he is majestic, graceful and athletic.   He can make little girls swoon or carry warriors to battle. He is big, brave, black, beautiful, and he is coming to the Kentucky Horse Park this spring. 

          He is Maxim, a Friesian horse who will be visiting the park along with Aaron and a number of other equally impressive horses as part of the Friesians Spectacular from April 14-May 8. 

          The Friesians will make several appearances during the park’s Parade of Breeds show.  Linda Brantley, Entertainment Coordinator for the Kentucky Horse Park noted, “The Friesians Spectacular has been here twice before, and when people find out they’re coming again, crowds are sure to increase.  These are such special horses and people.”  

          “Just a few decades ago, this ancient breed of horse had nearly become extinct, but thankfully has enjoyed resurgence in popularity.  They’re solid black, with a thick, wavy, flowing mane and tail, a lovely arching neck and a bold trot on feathered feet. Whether standing or moving, the Friesian is a sight to behold and we welcome the Friesians Spectacular anytime they want to make an appearance here,” observed John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park.  He continued, “We’re also very pleased to have four Friesians who are permanent residents of the park, which can be seen by our visitors anytime throughout the year.”

           According to the Knapp Friesian Foundation, “Friesian horses are noted for their striking physical appearance.  There is truly no other breed similar to the Friesian, an all-around horse with an impressive appearance that guarantees a second look wherever it goes.

          “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.  They were coveted war horses and carried knights in the Crusades.”

          In The Ultimate Horse Book, author Elwyn Hartley Edwards writes that the Friesian is “an object of fervent admiration today, as in the past.  The Romans acknowledged the Friesian as a powerful working horse…their black horses formed the flank-guard for the Roman legions.   A thousand years later… it proved itself as an animal of strength, docility and endurance. Contact with eastern horses improved the breed still more, as did the infusion of Andalusian Blood when Spain occupied the Netherlands during the Eighty Years’ War. 

          “Because of their black coats, their presence and their notable action, Friesians were also much in demand for the funeral business.”

          Part of the versatile breed’s colorful history includes having been used in the classical riding schools of Europe, as racing trotters, circus horses, light draft horses and always as elegant carriage horses.  Interestingly, they were also popular with monks who were skilled horse breeders in many monasteries prior to the Reformation.

          Today there are tens of thousands of Friesians, most of which are in the Netherlands and Germany.  Friesian numbers are increasing in North America, where they are particularly known as outstanding carriage horses who excel in the show ring.  Many owners who are new to Friesians are using them as pleasure horses under English and Western tack.  They are just beginning to enter the upper levels of dressage and some are being trained as jumpers.  Always a favorite with the crowd in any exhibition, the Friesians are often appreciated as much for their stunning appearance as for their talents.

          For more information on Friesians and to see beautiful photos of these horses, visit  For information on their appearance at the park, contact Linda Brantley, 859-259-4223.

           Friesians Spectacular is included with park admission.  Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for children 7-12 and free for children six and under.  The park is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm.

          Editor’s Note: If you would like high-res photos of Friesians for use by your publication, please email


          The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse.  An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the park hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003.  The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington.  The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.



Last updated: Wednesday, April 06, 2005