With the founding of the studbook came a strict and accurate rating system to ensure the pure continuation of the breed. An inspection is held every year wherever there are a large number of purebred friesians. Dutch judges travel from the Netherlands to evaluate horses of all ages and score them individually on their conformation and movement and thus deciding whether the horse is correct enough to be entered into the FPS studbooks. The judges score the horses 40% on conformation and 60% on movement, the horses first being inspected at a standstill then shown at a walk and trot in a 'triangle' pattern allowing the judge to view the horse from all angles. Along with the judges, Dutch 'runners' also travel to the inspections. Runners are very athletic and may be hired to show a Friesian to it's best potential which often includes keeping up to the side-aching pace of the Friesian's impressive trot. At most friesian inspections, the handlers wear white, which provides contrast to the black coat and allows the judge to view the horse's body without interference. This also applies for the white halters or bridles usually seen only at inspections, though other headstalls are allowed.
Desirable characteristics of the Friesian horse, as specified by the Rules and Regulations of the Friesch Paarden-Stamboek (FPS), original studbook of the Friesian horse.
A harmoniously built, properly proportioned horse. The noble head has clear, intelligent eyes and small, alert ears with the tips pointing slightly towards each other. The neck is of adequate length and slightly arched. A strong back joins a croup of good length, which should not slope too steeply. The shoulder is strong, long and sloping and the body has good depth and well sprung ribs. The legs and feet are strong, with a well-developed forearm and proper stance. The horse has fluid, square, elegant and elevated gaits, emphasized by good feathering on the lower legs, a fine mane and a beautiful, long tail. In short, a luxuriant, honest horse with much presence and eager to work. When three years old it should have the ideal height at withers of 1.60 m (15.3 hands). The preferred color is jet black.
Relatively short and of good width which is proportional to the length. The ears are small and alert with the tips pointing slightly towards each other. The eyes are large and shining. Preferably, the nasal bone is somewhat hollow or straight. The nostrils are wide, the lips are closed and the teeth meet properly. Jaw bones are not too heavy and spread wide apart to allow easy breathing while at work. The head should especially be dry and expressive, blending smoothly in with the neck. The neck is of good length, allowing the horse to move its head sideways easily. The neck is set well on the neck, especially leaving adequate space for the throat.
Slightly arched at the crest. The neck should be of proper length and adequately muscled. It is set on high and there should be no bulging lower neckline.
Well-developed and in particular blending gradually into the back. The withers should not be too flat.
The back is not too long and is well muscled. A slightly low back is allowed.
Wide, strong and well-muscled, smoothly blending into the croup.
The croup is of good length, sloping slightly downwards, wide and muscled, not overly rounded or pointed (narrow pinbones). The tail should not be set on too low. Especially the gluteal muscle should be long and well developed.
The shoulders are of adequate length and sloping. The points of the shoulder are set widely enough so that, together with the breast bone and well-developed muscles, they form a good shoulder. The chest is neither to wide nor too narrow.
The ribs are of good length and curved, providing space for heart and lungs. The belly is not rotund and has sufficient depth towards the rear.
The forelegs are properly positioned. Viewed from the front, they are set parallel with a hoofwidth of space at the ground. Viewed from the side, they are perpendicular down through the fetlock joint; the pastern is set at a 45 degree angle to the ground. The cannon bone of the foreleg should not be too long; the forearm, however, should have good length. The pastern is of good length and is resilient. The hooves are wide and sound.
Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight. Viewed from the side, they are properly positioned, strong with good strong hooves.
The hind cannon is slightly longer than the front, while the gaskin is of sufficient length and well muscled.
The joints of the forelegs as well as of the hind legs are well-developed, dry, providing a good foundation. At the hock, the angle should be about 150 degrees, while the hind pastern is at an angle of about 55 degrees to the ground.
The overall appearance of the horseís body is closer to a rectangle than a square. When the shoulder is long and sloping, the back is not too long and the croup is of adequate length, the ratio of fore-, middle- and hind quarters can be an ideal 1:1:1. The horse is neither too massive nor too light.
The walk should be straight, powerful and springy, with good length of stride, coming from the shoulder with adequate thrust from the hindquarters. The hindlegs should be brought well under the body.
The trot is reaching and elevated, with power from the hindquarters. The trot is light-footed with a moment of suspension and sufficient flexion at the hock.
The canter is lively and sustained, with sufficient power from the hindquarters and flexion at the hock.
Foals are judged the year of their birth beside their dam They may be given a first, second, third or no premiums according to their evaluation. Unlike the inspection of adults, foals may be entered into the Foal Book as long as their lineage is acceptable, with no omissions due to appearance or movement.
Once adults friesians have entered the studbook, they may be eligible for higher status within the FPS. Geldings are eligible for Studbook and Star. Mares are eligible for Studbook, Star, Model, Preferant and Performance Mother. Foalbook stallions (no breeding rights) may be given a Star status. Approved Stallions may gain Preferant.
Mares and geldings older than three are judged for inclusion the Studbook. To be eligible for the Mare or Gelding Studbooks, the horses must be:
- registered in the Foal Book
- at least 1.50 meters (14.3 hands) at the withers
- completely black with no white except for a small star or a few white hairs on the forehead or muzzle. (none on the legs or body)
- free of hereditary defects. Criteria for rejection are: ringbone, bone spavin, curb, bog spavin, swollen stifle joint, lameness, dished face, insufficient shoulder height, poor use of the hind legs, defects of the stifle including a locking or loose stifle or improper development of the hock.
The horse must also demonstrate the conformation and movement requirements described above. Adult horses failing to demonstrate these characteristics will be kept in the Foalbook.
Eligibility for Star Mare or Gelding requires that they previously be entered as a Studbook mare or gelding and be at least 1.55 meters (15.1 hands) at the withers. Criteria for designation to Star status requires that the horse demonstrate:
> - conformation meeting the breeding objective of the FPS
- totally correct movement
-the walk must be straight, powerful and flexible with good reach from the shoulder while the hind quarters swing forward with power
- The trot should be a reaching and forward movement with power from the hind quarters and flexion in the hock; it should be elevated and light-footed with a moment of suspension; there should be no winging, paddling or interfering
(the same now goes for Foalbook stallions, who have recently been allowed Star status)
Although star is the highest status available to a gelding, a star mare may continue on to be evaluated for Provisional Model. Eligibility for Provisional Model requires that they:
- be a Star mare, normally age 7 or older
- be at least 1.58 meters (15.2 1/4 hands) at the withers
- be fertile as demonstrated by having borne and nursed a foal.
Criteria for Model requires that the mare demonstrate to the judges that she is among the very best of all Star Mares worldwide and demonstrates ideal conformation and movements as to be a model for the ideal Friesian horse. Within the year following the designation as Provisional Model, the mare must pass an IBOP performance test either under saddle or as a driving horse.
Studbook,Ster or Model mares may attain the Preferential status if they have produced at least four quality offspring which were:
-star or model mare
-studbook stallion with approved breeding privileges
-stalion which has reached the second level of recognized stallion judging. (has qualified for consideration in the Central Stallion Proving)
Qualification for Peformance Mother (Prestatie) requires that three or more of a Studbook, Star or Model mare's offspring achieve high levels of performance under saddle or in driving.
Stallions may only enter the studbook with breeding privilages if they have passed rigorous and numerous tests of approval. Stallions are first presented at age three or older at their regional inspection, here they are tested for eligibility to enter the Central Stallion Proving. To pass to this level the stallion must:
- be at least 1.58 meters ( 15.2 1/4 hands) at age three and at least 1.60 meters (15.3 hands) at age four.
- be entire black with no white markings.. except for a small star etc.
- demonstrate to the inspection jury that their movement and conformation is of sufficiently exceptional quality to warrant consideration as a Studbook Stallion.
Stallions must also be eligible based upon their pedigree. The registration certificate may not contain any mares registered in the B-Book for four generations, or any Foal Book parents or grandparents. There should be no white on the legs or hooves within the first three generations of the pedigree. The stallion's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother must all be star or star quality mares and the dam line should be fertile and consistently high quality. The dam of the stallion should not have any leg defects and may be examined by a veterinarian if necissary. The stallion's dam is also examined for undesirable over or underbites, navel hernias and stable vices. Her general disposition is considered as well as the sporting and IBOP results of the mare and her offspring.
Once a stallion qualifies for the consideration of the Central Proving, a video of the stallion will be reviewed by the FPS and if approved, will be invited to the Central Stallion Proving and be subject to pre-evaluations. X-rays must be taken of the knee joints, a semen analysis must be performed and meet standards and blood typing must be performed on the stallion and his dam.
After passing the pre-evaluations, the stallion moves on to a designated training facility for the Central Stallion Proving where he will be evaluated under the direction of a chosen, experienced trainer for a minimum duration of three weeks. Evaluation will be made the final days of the Stallion Proving by FPS judges and will include ratings in:
- performance under saddle
- performance as a driving horse to demonstrate obedience
- performance pulling a sledge
- performance as a carriage show horse to demonstrate action
- character and temperament
- stable manners
- training manners
Once this stage is passed, the stallion will be given a Friesian name chosen by the owner from a list of unused names and the next consecutive stallion studbook number. The stallion will then recieve provisional Approved Breeding Privileges until their offspring have been judged for the first time. When the stallionís oldest offspring become three years old, a percentage of the offspring will be evaluated for quality by the FPS. Through the quality of his offspring, the stallion must demonstrate a positive impact upon the breed or his breeding rights will be withdrawn. Five years after the first offspring inspection, a second inspection will evaluate the performance and conformation of the offspring as adults and the performance of the stallion himself. All studbook stallion with approved breeding privileges must be judged annually. The best of the approved stallions may aquire preferential status similar to the mares, based upon their impact to the breed. This includes the percentage of Star, Model, Approved stallion, Preferential and not approved offsping against overall averages. Also, his performance in various sport associations, his fertility, hereditatry defects and growth, color and markings, size and character.