There is no question that the Friesian horse is absolutely stunning to look at. With its shiny black coat, long flowing mane and tail and feathered locks, this breed is as beautiful standing still as when it is moving, when its aristocratic carriage is shown off as well as its powerful gait. Good looking both standing still and in movement, it should come as no surprise that the Friesian has been appearing in motion pictures over the last twenty years, which has certainly contributed to the popularity of the breed. Here we'll take a look at the history of Friesians in the movies.
Throughout most of the breed's history, the horse was very well known all over Europe, particularly as a war horse during the middle ages, but the horse was always especially revered in its native home of Holland. By the 1980's, many enthusiasts were trying to increase the Friesian's popularity in the United States with little luck. The breakthrough finally came with a movie called "Ladyhawke", starring Rutger Hauer, who happened to be from the Friesian's native country. It is unclear whether Hauer had any say in the choosing of a Friesian to play a major role in the movie, played by a stallion named Othello, but he must have been familiar with the breed with it being so popular in his native country. In any case, Othello's natural beauty caught the attention of horse lovers all over the United States and soon many enthusiasts were clamoring for information on the breed. Dutch breeder Fred de Boer, who had been trying to increase the breed's popularity in America for years, was so grateful to Rutger Hauer for his part in helping making the Friesian popular that he presented the actor with his own three year old Friesian, who then went to live on Hauer's property in Holland.
Since that time, Friesians have been used in a great number of movies when an extraordinary horse is needed for the movie's hero. Several Friesians were used in recent incarnations of "Zorro", including one that used solely for all the famous rearing scenes. They have appeared in English historical dramas such as "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility", fantasy movies such as "Eragon" and "Interview with a Vampire", children's movies like "Disney's Tall Tales", and even movies about ancient history like "300" and "Alexander," in which a Friesian stallion played the part of Alexander the Great's famous horse, Bucephalus. Curiously enough, using Friesians in movies about ancient history are historically inaccurate, as the breed has really only been around during the last five hundred years or so, but they are so stunning on the big screen that it's unlikely that anyone really minds.
Thanks to the popularity and beauty of the Friesian, there is no doubt that the breed will continue to make appearances in the movies, such as "The Dark Horse," a film that was completed in 2007 and features a Friesian that must be "tamed" and succeed in a dressage competition, for many years to come.