The history of Friesian Breeding in South Africa dates back over one hundred years when the first stallions were imported in 1906. The breed in South Africa only became part of the international Friesian community many years later with the formation of ‘The Association of the Friesian Horse Studbook of Southern Africa’ (FPSSA) in 1989. At the first meeting of the FPSSA in May 1989 Dr Bennie Smit became the first chairman, a position he held for many years, he is currently still a board member of the society. The FPSSA is affiliated to the mother studbook in The Netherlands the ‘Koninklijke Vereniging Het Friesch Paarden Stamboek’ (KFPS) as well as the ‘World Friesian Horse Association’ (WFHO). Becoming part of the internationally recognised Friesian community has elevated South Africa to the next level as part of only a small group of countries with internationally recognised Friesian horses. Other countries include The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Finland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Great Britain, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Long before the formation of the FPSSA there was however a number of dedicated breeders that ensured the recognition of the Friesian as it is known all over the world today. In the beginning Friesians were seen as beautiful black horses with exceptional movement suitable to improve local breeding stock. Only many years later would people get to know the breed the way we know it now. The first big importers were the Smit family (Piketberg, Western Cape) that imported well known stallions Beake, Wessel, Doede and later Adel, Brun and Jildert. There have since been many big studs that have continued the good work to enlarge the Friesian gene pool in South Africa and for the first time in fifty years a Studbook stallion was imported in 2007 by Doorndraai Friesian Stud. Ritse 322 was soon followed by the next studbook stallion who was imported at the end of 2009 Tjalf 443 ‘Sport’, also belonging to Doorndraai Friesian Stud. Tjalf 443 ‘Sport’ was the first ever Studbook Stallion with a Studbook breeding permission as well as the Sport distinction to be imported to South Africa.

The plus minus one hundred members of the FPSSA has over the years imported many good horses with over forty studbook mares coming into the country in only the past five years. The dedication to breeding excellence has ensured the continued support by the KFPS who sends internationally recognised judges from The Netherlands every year to judge the national shows and inspections held by the FPSSA. Even though the Friesian we see at shows and performances have changed vastly since the first stallion was imported over a hundred years ago, it stays one of the most versatile and good tempered breeds to work with. With over a thousand internationally registered Friesians in South Africa the breed promises to provide horse lovers in South Africa with many more happy riding, driving and showing experiences!