1. Is the Friesian KFPS registered?
All KFPS registered Friesians will have either a tongue tattoo (pre-1999) or a microchip. The tattoo or chip number should match that given on the horse’s passport (green and yellow stripes prior to and including 2003 / aubergine coloured after 2003) and on its papers. Check this prior to purchase and also once you receive your horse in the UK, no matter where it is from or who transported it.
Some dealers and breeders in the Netherlands and UK may claim they are awaiting the passport or papers. No horse should be transported without its own passport, so do not accept a horse without its own passport. It’s also common for dealers and breeders to claim that they will send papers on to you. Only accept this if the foal is less than 1 year and they are awaiting issue from the KFPS. Even then scan the chip number of the horse and telephone or FAX the KFPS to confirm where the papers are before purchasing the horse.
A KFPS studbook or foal book paper will be green and yellow striped with the KFPS seal on it. For an example of a KFPS paper please their website. Bi-boek horses will have the same laminated papers but these will be either brown and pink striped (bi-boek I) or blue and red striped, depending upon registry (Bi-boek II).
2. Is the horse a good Friesian?
Any horse in the main studbook is usually of an acceptable standard, however those attaining a first or second premier and star status, or third premier studbook are of the best quality in terms of its form and movement. If the horse has completed an AFBP or IBOP test you will have an idea of its suitability as a riding or driving horse. Try to attend an inspection or inspection training day prior to purchasing your Friesian, then at least you will have an idea of breed standards. Again the FHAGBI website or KFPS website has details of what to look for in a Friesian. If a horse is advertised as premier graded, it is important to check if this was as a foal or as an adult. A first Premier foal often does not develop into a first premier adult! It is also worth remembering that horses with FULL PAPERS, where the females for 3 generations in the dam-line all have Ster, Ster-Preferent, Krown, Model or Prestige grading command a higher value.
3. Health of the horse
In the Netherlands, horses are essentially classed as farm animals, so their individual health may not always be a priority. Do insist on an independent full vetting prior to purchase. Like any Pedigree animal, there are certain conditions that may sometimes arise in the breed.
Things to be aware of:
- Unless the horse is working, it is unlikely that its hooves will have received much attention so they may be overgrown and badly cracked.
- Worms. Not all Friesian breeders and dealers worm their horses. Redworm colic is not unknown and can be fatal. Check if a worming programme has been in place, and give your horse a wormer such as Equest on arrival that will kill all forms of the redworm cycle.
- Osteochondrosis dissecans is a developmental defect of the cartilage ends of the bone and can be common in young Friesians. If in the fore-feet, as can be found in some young Friesians, it is usually incurable. Have pre-purchase x-rays taken.
- Aortal Rupture. Some Friesians are genetically predisposed to the vessels leading from the heart rupturing leading to instant death. Have at least the horses heart and lungs vet checked before purchase.
- Castration. Most male horses are left entire until three, if they are gelded at all (stallions are more accepted as leisure animals on the continent). Friesian stallions are usually just as kind-natured as the mares and geldings, and have a sensible attitude and most yards in the Netherlands will be willing to have the horse gelded prior to exporting it. Please be aware of the strict rulings of the KFPS before thinking of breeding from your stallion.
- Mares in Foal. If you wish to buy a mare, not in foal, then choose younger animals not yet started their life as a brood mare or visit in May when most of the foals are born so you can select your mare before she is put in foal. If buying a mare in foal be sure to get the confirmation of service certificate/foal registration form.
- Placental retention. If you do buy a mare in foal, do be aware that Friesians have a problem with placental retention (i.e. they do not pass the placenta after giving birth due to a lack of oxytocin) and have your vet on standby.
- Vaccinations. The Dutch do not tend to vaccinate their horses unless they are regularly competing, so ask for the vaccinations to be started when the horse receives the pre-purchase vetting.
- Sweet Itch, Some Friesians are prone to sweet itch, keeping horses stabled at dawn and dusk (away from biting insects), using various sweet itch lotions, and/or feed such as St Hippolyt Hestamix, and supplements such as WSH Hippo excema, can all help to reduce the symptoms of sweet itch. Vaccine trials are currently being run by the National Sweet Itch Helpline. Do seek the advice of your veterinary surgeon.
- Mud Fever, heel mites, greasy and other skin conditions. As with other feathered breeds, Friesians can suffer from various skin conditions. Do take your veterinary surgeon’s advice on these, as they can present in the same manner but need very different treatment.
Regular updates on health issues are posted on the FPS and FHANA websites.
Three Other factors to consider:
- Many 3-year-old horses are advertised as trained to saddle or harness. Whilst many are sensible and willing, they are still babies and can be prone to bouts of exuberance. Also, they will have been backed by professionals, but will only have a very basic education. If you buy a three or four-year-old, you will have a lot of bringing on to do!
- Many Dutch horses, or horses recently imported into the UK or Eire, will only have been ridden in a manege. Do check whether the horse has been hacked or driven out, and if it has seen traffic.
- When Driven as a single turnout in the Netherlands, the horse will not have worn breeching and will need time to get accustomed to a harness.