From the latter part of the 20th century until the present, demand for purebreds, particularly the “Modern style” finer-boned, taller, more agile version of the Friesian increased, so breeders have bred both purebreds and a lighter-weight crossbred horse with valued characteristics, resulting in the Friesian cross and Friesian Sporthorse
Friesian horses are popular in both Europe and the United States, and are often used today for Dressage competition, pleasure riding, and driving. Friesian horses can do well in dressage competition due to the breed’s movement, trainability, appearance, power, and body control.
The Friesian also remains popular as a carriage horse, as it is a powerful horse and its high-stepping action is eye-catching. It is particularly popular in competitions that require the driving of a team, partly because of its movement and disposition, and partly because it is easy to match teams of black horses. Friesians are also good all-around horses, used for showing, driving, and general riding, and are also used as circus horses.
Due to its flashy appearance, the Friesian has become popular in the film industry. Though Friesians are of dramatic appearance, sometimes their use in dramatizations of actual historical events is of dubious accuracy, given that the breed as it is known today only came into being within the last 400 to 600 years. The breed owes much of its current popularity to the appearance of the Friesian stallion Goliath (real name: Othello) in the 1985 film, Ladyhawke, which ignited a worldwide interest in these horses. Films such as Eragon, The Mask of Zorro, Alexander, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Wolfman have also featured Friesian horses. An episode of the TV series Lost featured a Friesian/Saddlebred cross. Most recently Friesians were seen in the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, where two horses named “Boech” and “Gallo” each took turns playing the winged horse, Pegasus, and they were also used in the 2011 remake of Conan the Barbarian.