About Freiberger Horses
Freibergers (also known as the Franches-Montagnes) are a
draft horse from Switzerland. They were widely used as draft and pack horse in
the Swiss army. Breeding used to be heavily subsidized in Switzerland.
Freibergers are the last representative of the light cold blood horse in
Europe. Each year at the Marche Concours in Saignelegier, on the second weekend
in August, Freibergers demonstrate how versatile they are in a variety of shows
and competitions. Due to their character, willingness, and versatility, they
are suitable for both driving and riding; they are a popular mount.
They were developed by crossing native Bernese Jura horses
with English Thoroughbreds, Anglo-Norman, Ardennais, and Arabian horses. There
are two distinct types within the Freiberger breed: a broader, heavier stamp of
horse with more muscle development and a lighter, finer type.
Freiberger horses are found in Italy as well as all over
Europe. They are 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 sure-footed 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 favour 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 making 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 had 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 in color and stand at between 14.3 and 15.3 hands high, with a weight
between 550 and 650kg.