The original East Friesian horses are actually extinct, the breed that is known today as East Friesian are much more warmblood in appearance and temperament than their earlier ancestors. The original East Friesian breed was much more coldblooded in nature and appearance and were used as light draft horses. They were most typically used on farms as carriage horses, farming horses and general transportation mounts.
Even the earliest East Friesian horses had the same smooth strides and gaits that are attributed to the warmblood competitive horses bred today around the world.
Arabian stallions were originally bred with the East Friesian mares to produce a Friesian Arab that was designed to be more of a riding horse and add the refinement of the Arabian to the somewhat heavier and stockier looking East Friesian.
Currently the East Friesian breed is also bred with Hanoverians, East Prussian and Arabian stallions of approved bloodlines. The East Friesian studbook has been included in the Hanoverian registry since 1975 so there is little distinction between the two in pure breeding programs. The goals are more to develop an excellent competitive warmblood instead of a specific genetic breeding program.
The East Friesian was developed with the same concepts in mind as the development of the Oldenburg breed. Originally both East Friesian and Oldenburg stallions were used in breeding programs until the breeds became separate.
The East Friesian horse was always a solid colored horse with chestnuts, blacks and bays the most common colors. Any gray East Friesian horses are likely to be from the direct line of the stallion Tello who was instrumental in the development of the breed.
The original brand of the East Friesian registry was a crown and the letters OF which was applied to the left thigh to designate a registered East Friesian horse.
The original East Friesian horses and the more modern East Friesians were bred in Germany and had influences of Thoroughbred, Neapolitan, Iberian and Arabian blood.
The East Friesian horse has been instrumental in the development of many other modern horse breeds including the Gelderlander, which bears a strong physical resemblance to the East Friesian. The East Friesian was also used in many different warmblood breeding programs, especially in Germany and surrounding countries. The East Friesian was also used in developing many of the Dutch carriage breeds and light draft horses.
The East Friesian in the Hanoverian register can be used as a dressage horse, carriage horse or as an all round riding horse. They are known for their wonderful gaits, strong physical ability and spirit in competition. A very willing worker, the East Friesian has a long history of performance both in the competition ring as well as for daily use.