The Freiberger horse, also known as Franche-Montagne horse, is a swiss horse breed, that is often referred to as heavy warmblood or light coldblood, depending on the type.
They were traditionally used in the swiss army, but since then have been crossed a lot to Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Anglo-Norman horses, creating a new sport-type Freiberger.
My real life barn I work at focuses on this breed, and I have grown to love them for their gentle, but very brave nature. By nature, they do not get spooked easily, and are great to hack out, because they rarely get scared at all, and are very intelligent.
The horses were used for agricultural work and as pack horses for the army. There are records of imports from France, England, Hannover and Oldenburg in 1830, with the goal to improve the Freibergers’ heavy and thick head, short neck, and sloping rump.
The breed was crossed with Swedish Warmbloods in the 1970s, especially in Alsatian studs, and by 1985 about half of the breeding population descended of these types.
Last crosses took place in the 1990s with the Swiss Warmblood, to improve the suitability for riding, and the studbook has been closed since 1997.
One of the most important foundation studs was Vaillant (born 1891), and 70% of all Freiberger horses derived from him. Another important stud was the Anglo-Norman stallion Impreuve (born 1886 in France), who 25% of all Freiberger horse derive from.
Freiberger (SFV - Schweizerischer Freibergerverband/Swiss Freiberger Association)
The SFV was founded 1997 and they consider themselves an association that represents all types of Freiberger. Their studbook has different categories for the different types, but the main goal is still to produce a versatile Freiberger, that is suitable for both driving as well as different riding disciplines, which is why most mares are covered by stallions with foreign blood. The studbook was closed in 1999.
Stallion Helvetica (foreign blood 2,34%)
Stallion Relax (foreign blood 7,42%) Western
Stallion Don Ovan Du Clos Virat (Foreign blood 20,31%)
Stallion Nepal FM (foreign blood 50%)
Base Freiberger (IG-OFM)
This association was formed in 1997 as well, in order to promote purebred Freiberger horses. They do not have their own studbook, but convinced the SFV to include a category in their studbook named Base (German: Basis). The so called Base Freiberger represents the original, purebred Freiberger horse lineage. The Base Freiberger has to be 98% pure bred, with only 2% foreign blood allowed.
Due to the very few purebred stallions being used for breedings only rarely, the percentage of foreign blood in the breed is decreasing very slowly. Stallions with a higher percentage of foreign blood are still highly preferred over Base Freiberger horses. The goal of having only 2% foreign blood will not be accomplished any time soon.
Stallion Casim (foreign blood 1,56%) Breeder
Stallion Cosimo (foreign blood 0%, same breeder)
This association was founded in 2008, because they wanted stricter regulations than the Base Freiberger association (IG-OFM) had, in order to save the original, pure bred Freiberger horse breed. Their definition for a pure bred Freiberger is, that after 1950, they were not crossed with different breeds anymore.
The goal is to breed a more original type of the freiberger (resembling coldbloods), and to maintain their good characteristics, such as being very calm, affectionate towards people and resilient as well as having a good health.Because of their exterieur, they can still be used for agricultural work.
The original Freiberger is in danger to become extinct.
After negotiating with the Swiss government, the RRFB was allowed to have a studbook of their own. Horses registered with the RRFB can not be registered with the SFV.
Example of stallions registered with the RRFB (all with 0% foreign blood):
Freiberger horses are very compact, with a short, but strong back, a thick neck and an expressive and noble head. They are usually between 14.3 and 15.3 hh, the largest Freiberger I met was a mare at 16.1 hh.
The only offical colors are Bay, Chestnut, Black and Gray, but in Germany and Swiss not many people know much about or are interested in colors and genetics, so while Flaxen Chestnuts, Sabino and even Dominant Whites occur in the breed, they are registered as regular Chestnuts, or Grays.
All of the following are stallions owned by the national stud
Stallion Calypso Du Padoc
Stallion Damiano Du Puits
Stallion Don Festino
There are a lot more examples, let me know if you need more.
All DW Freiberger horses likely derive from the same mare, Cigale, who was born in 1957. It’s likely to be fatal when homozygous. Their group/gene is W1, the Cigale Group.
Freiberger with white spotting (phenotype Sabino)
Mirrado White Cloud, registered DW Freiberger stallion
Freiberger mare at my own barn, possibly minimal Sabino
Unknown mare, possibly minimal Sabino
Stallion Don Flamingo, possibly Sabino
Freiberger mare at my own barn, DW (2-year old)
Freiberger foal, Cigale descendant
There is a pdf document of the description of the breed by the SFV, which lists Sabino as possible color. Since it’s unlikely to be genetically Sb1, it’s probably DW. I don’t know how to upload the file, but if you are interested in it, DM me your email address, and I’ll send it to you.
My suggestion for the Freiberger horse on Equus is to have two different types/strains, since there are two different studbooks in real life as well, the Original Freiberger, and the Sport Freiberger. For colors I’d suggest Chestnut, Bay, Black and Gray and Flaxen Chestnut, with Sabino/DW as rare.
For Level Caps, the Original Freiberger should have high level caps in Driving disciplines, as
this is what they are bred and used for mostly.
The Sport Freiberger should have high level caps in Driving disciplines as well, and medium level caps in disciplines like Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing, since this type has been specifically bred and crossed with other breeds to create a sport type, but are still heavier than regular warmbloods, and are unlikely to be able to compete with them at higher levels.
Thank you for considering this, and reading through all of this. Feel free to ask any questions
I also found the website of another Breeder, which has TONS of images of well-known stallions doing dressage, show jumping, driving and even western, so let me know if you need more pictures, or help navigating the website, as it's all in german
Hello, your breed has been approved and will be added to the Master Breed List an Mainsite shortly.