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Historic Notes

/Historic Notes

The Friesian Sjees

Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of the Friesian’s proud driving heritage is the traditional two-wheeled Dutch sjees. The sjees (pronounced “shay-z” as in the French ‘chaise’ – meaning chair), became popular in mid eighteenth century Friesland as a gig wealthy landowners and their wives would drive out on Sundays and special occasions usually with a single or pair of Friesian horses.

Photo copyright David van Mill

The vehicle itself consists of two large 14-spoked wheels measuring almost 5 feet high and a small, ornate body suspended high above the ground by leather straps or thoroughbraces. The body is often decorated in the rococo style of King Louis XV and may display amazingly fine and detailed paintings on its carved panels.

Driven in a traditional manner, the carriage will seat a lady and gentleman side by side in traditional Dutch costume from the mid 1800’s. The man sits on the left and wears knickerbockers, tall socks, buckled shoes and a top hat, while the woman wears a white lace bonnet, white apron, and a dress complimenting the turnout. The horse typically wears a breastcollar and is driven with white reins.

In the 18th Century, the sjees was used behind the Friesian in trotting races at village festivals, in which drivers competed for the ‘Golden Whip’, before competition moved on to faster and lighter sulkies.


August 10th, 2012|Historic Notes, Homepage|0 Comments

The Black Brigade

This is an excerpt from a 1971 reprint of The Horse-World of London (1893) By W.J. Gordon, originally published in 1893. The book contains information about all classes of the London equine, from the coal ponies, to the stately carriage horses, to the brewsters horses, to the queen’s stables.
July 28th, 2011|Historic Notes|0 Comments

Antique Friesian Postcards

Here are three photos which will surely be of interest. They are from the wonderful book: Carriages of the Past;Victorian postcards of the collection of Mario Broekhuis. Published in 1998 by Wim Knijnenburg Produkties.
July 28th, 2011|Historic Notes|0 Comments

Portrait of Pieter Schout on Horseback

I ran across this while flipping through a book of artwork on Amsterdam’s Rikjsmuseum. Imagine my suprise to turn the page and find a perfect example of a modern Friesian horse, painted in the 17th century! It seems the Friesian was bred in a more refined form, like that we see today, for quite some […]

July 28th, 2011|Historic Notes|0 Comments
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