During the Middle Ages , Friesian horses were in great demand as destriers throughout Europe since their size enabled them to carry a knight in full armor.

The destrier was the war-horse of the medieval knight. The need for a horse that could carry the ever increasing weight of the armoured knight, (up to 300 pounds) was met with the development of the destrier during the Middle Ages. The destrier was tall and fast but had a slower pace than that of the palfrey. It was not usually used in extended travel but would be taken in tow, thus keeping it fresh for battle. The destrier, although weighing twice as much as a palfrey, was not a draft horse and possible breeds in use at this time were likely to have been the Belgian, Boulonais, Jutland and Noriker. It was common practice when going into battle, to shod the destrier with protruding sharp nails in order to inflict much damage when trampling down foot soldiers.

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