Also known as the Franches-Montagnes,
the Freiberger originated in Switzerland in the Jura region at the
end of the 19th century. The breed developed by crossing the native
Bernese Jura horse with the English Thoroughbred and Anglo-Norman,
and also with the Ardennes and the Arab. There are two distinct
types within the Freiberger breed: a broader, heavier stamp of horse
with more muscle development and a lighter, finer type. Nowadays
there is a trend towards breeding the lighter type, as interest
in competitive riding and leisure riding increases. However, the
importance of the old type of Freiberger should not be overlooked,
and this is why the Freiberger is included in the Draft section
rather than the Light Horse section.
These days found in Italy as well as
all over Europe, the Freiberger is a highly versatile horse, used
for light draft, farm work, riding, and competitive riding. They
are a mountain horse and do very well in hilly and mountainous areas,
being naturally surefooted and tough and, in many cases, far better
equipped for working this type of land than a tractor. They were
widely used by the upland farmers of the Jura region and are also
popular with the Swiss Army, who favor them as pack animals and
for use during patrols. Many Freibergers trace back to one stallion,
called Valliant, who had a mix of Norfolk Roadster, Anglo-Norman,
and English Hunter blood in him. Another influential stallion was
Urus, who also contained Norman blood. They are bred at the Avenches
stud, the Federal stud, where their breeding is strictly regulated.
They mature quickly into well-balanced, active, and calm animals.
This makes them easy work companions.
Typically, they have a heavy, although
small, head with a pronounced jaw line and a broad forehead. The
neck should be arched and muscular, with a good sloping shoulder,
broad and pronounced withers, and a straight and powerful back.
They invariably have good clean legs, strong joints, and hard feet.
Traditionally, they have a very small amount of feathering at the
fetlock, although modern breeding has largely bred this out and
they also have a somewhat finer head now, which sometimes shows
Arabian character in the facial expressions. Characteristically,
they are only bay or chestnut, and stand between 14.3 and 15.3 hh.
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