- Freiberger -

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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