Friesian is a brand of horse that tends to be large in size and attractives to the eyes. They are used in multiple fashions such as competitive and recreational driving, as well as for traditional carriage rides.
Friesian horses have a tough stature and thick manes and tails. Their temperament and athleticism is more advanced compared to their counterparts. Their life expectancy is stable across captivity and natural living, and the cost of having one can range based on their handling and purpose. They are also suitable horses for beginners or advanced riders.
In this article, we will be learning more about the cost, life expectancy, and temperament of the majestic Friesian horse.
Where Do Friesian Horses Originate From?
Friesian horses are natives of Friesland, a province of the Netherlands based on the european continent.
Their location is also where they received their name, Friesian horse. During the middle ages, Friesian horses were large in numbers, and lived and migrated throughout the northern and western Netherland plains.
Also during that time, kings and queens of the european nations saw these horses as commodities that could be used during wars, or to keep as a pet to resemble nobility and strength for the Netherlands and for the family that operated the country at the time.
Although the numbers have dwindled a bit because of captivity and deaths from war, the Netherlands still has Friesian horses through the lands. These horses are either in captivity with royals, farmers, or the everyday citizen, or they are being used as service animals in multiple sectors.
Friesian Horse Cost
There are different prices for Friesian horses and it depends on whether the horse is a purebred or a hybrid – one brand of horse mixed with a different type of horse.
Currently, purebred, pedigree Friesian horses will cost you between 7,000 and 8,000 dollars for a yearling, which is a young horse between the ages of 1 year and 3 years old, and up to 500,000 to 600,000 dollars for an adult stallion.
The Dutch Friesch Paarden Stamboek is the organization that sets the prices for the Friesian horses, and they base it on factors such as age, height, color, mane and coat, functionality, and overall health of the horse.
Another factor that increases the cost of these beautiful and elegant horses are the expensive genetic diseases that come with older age or physical body damage to the horse, which could range between 30,000 and 65,000 dollars.
Friesian Horse Colors
Horses can come in many different Earth-tone colors, but not Friesians; they typically only come in one, two, or maybe three colors depending on the genetics of these massive horses.
The only true color that a studbook-registered Friesian horse comes in is black. In addition to black, the color may range from a very dark brown or black-by to true jet black.
The best time to catch a Friesian horse at its darkest tone – black bay – is when their coats are shedding or when they have become sun or sweat bleached.
This means that they have been in the sun so much that the chemicals from their sweat changes the chemical composition of the melanin in their fur, causing it to be darker.
Friesian Horse Lifespan
Most horses live between 25 and 30 years on the land, both in captivity and in nature. But when it comes to Friesian horses, they tend to live a typical lifespan of 16 years, which is just about half as short as their counterparts.
Considering that the cost of a Friesian horse is a couple hundred thousand dollars, and tens of thousands for their health costl, this is usually a concern for most prospective buyers because they believe placing so much money into a Friesian horse as a bad investment due to their short lifespan.
Although the lifespan may be shorter than most other horses, Friesian horses are still considered to be a valuable animal to have because of its history, aesthetic look, power, and versatility when it comes to providing work and service for their caretakers.
Why Do Friesians Have Short Lifespans?
The reason for the delicate lifespan of a Friesian horse is because of selective breeding.
Horse breeders will find other types of horses, such as stallions or mustangs, to breed with the Friesian horse to create a different type of horse for specialized reasons. This biological mixing causes the original body of the Friesian horse to slowly deteriorate over time, causing them to have a premature death rate.
Mixed breeding has been going on for more than a century and has caused the rate of Friesians to decrease without any signs of slowing down.
A solution for keeping the lifespan of these horses stable, and possibly increasing it is to keep the pure bloodline of Friesians together with no mixing of any other type of horse. But so long as mix breeding continues, Friesians will continue to have a short lifespan.
Friesian Horse Size
As young horses, Friesian horses tend to stay stable until they hit what we consider “puberty” for horses. When it comes to their size, Friesans averagely stand at about 63 inches tall, although their height can vary from 58 inches tall at the withers to about 68 inches tall.
The mares or the gelding must be at least 62 inches for the Friesian to be considered a qualified “star-designation” pedigree horse. When it comes to the weight of a Friesian horse, it can be as light as 1,200 pounds and as heavy as 1,400 pounds.
This puts these magnificent horses between the range of half a ton to almost 1 ton! These horses are large due to the fact that they are mostly muscle due to their diet, and they will continue to grow until they reach this point of weight and height.
What Age Do Friesian Horses Stop Growing?
Friesian horses grow at an exponential growth compared to other animals, including humans. However, they do not grow for their entire life. Most Friesians will grow to their full potential for about 8 years of age, then stop. This is due to their diet, exercise, and the type of service that they provide for their caretakers or owners.
In nature, Friesians do not have many predators or foes due to their massive sige and powerful strength, but can sometimes be taken down because of their young age and instinctual naivety.
Most caretakers will normally start their Friesian at the age of 3, with serious training at the age of 4, but this could hinder their growth process.
Because of their sensitive growing period, it is important to not start a Friesian with acts of riding, competitions, or massive manual labor until after the age of 8 years old to ensure that it grows to its full peak of potential.
Friesian Horse Temperament
When it comes to the personality of the Friesian horse, they have a calm demeanor and tend to be receptive to being handled by most people who show them respect with little to no threat.
They are highly intelligent animals and because of their level of intelligence and strength, require a dedicated and equally intelligent handler to keep them focused growing properly.
Also because of their intelligence, these horses have also been labeled as “mischievous” because they are capable of outsmarting their caretakers from time to time, as well as stubborn because of their strength.
Additionally, they can come off as insecure or frightened easily by loud or sudden noises. Other than that, they are described as loving and playful horses that have a powerful and beautiful presence with strong attachments to their playmates and caretakers.
Friesian Horse Diet
Horses are vegetarians and typically eat vegetation of the Earth, and Friesian horses are no different. The ideal diet for a Friesian horse is made up of good or high quality grass hay.
The grass hay that is included in their diet is usually completely organic directly from nature without any pesticides or other harmful chemicals that could stunt the health of the Friesian. General Friesian feeding is typically about 15 to 18 pounds of hay per 1,000 pounds of their body weight.
Therefore, at 1,400 pounds, A Friesian should eat about 30 pounds of grass hay per day to keep their size, strength, and overall power increased and stable.
Other vegetation that Friesians may enjoy include sweet fruit such as apples, pears, and even bananas, while carrots, lettuce, and cabbage also make for a delicious snack for them to enjoy as well.
Friesian Horse Health Issues
Friesian horses are large and strong horses most of their lives and do not suffer from much illness in their younger years.
Although, there are some genetic issues that Friesians suffer from once they reach the age of 8 years old due to inbreeding or the anatomical structure of the horse.
Some of these genetic diseases include Hydrocephalus, which is excess cerebrospinal fluid in the skull; retained placenta after foaling and birth; chronic dermatitis due to skin thickening , alopecia, and/or ulcerations; Aortopulmonary fistula which follows a blood lead from the aorta into the lungs; as well as megaesophagus, which is a chronically stretched out throat.
Contrary to their size, Dwarfism is also a health concern because it can cause stunted leg growth and laxity of their connective tissue.
What Are Friesian Horses Used For?
Since the time of the Roman empire, Friesian horses have been used for a plethora of different reasons. For starters, they were, and still are, used in jousting matches from wars of earlier centuries, to the Roman games, and even today in medieval appreciation fairs, festivals, and carnivals.
Additionally, Friesian horses are used in harness and under saddle, more specifically in the discipline of dressage. While they are in harness, they are also used for competitive and recreational driving in both singly and in teams.
Traditional carriages around Europe, as well as North America, have been seen using Friesians to pull it and hold the load of the customer and caretaker. American states on the eastern border such as New York enjoy using Friesians and other horses like Clydesdales for showing people around the city and state.
What Are Friesian Horses Good For?
Friesian horses are extremely versatile animals that can be used for just about any job or activity that requires a big, strong, and powerful animal. For example, Friesians are a good choice riding casually or professionally.
Friesians are also a great companion as a pet or an animal to keep on the land. Because of their heavy body and ability to stomp with force, they make for functional animals that are capable of plowing, pulling, cultivating, and even fertilizing the land!
Additionally, competitions for dressage is another good reason to have a Friesian horse around. They do very well at looking amazing and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes of most people that watch them. In some countries, the hair of a Friesian is also cut and sold to businesses and citizens that suffer from diseases that cause hair loss.
Are Friesian Horses Good For Riding?
It depends on the type of riding that the Friesian will be engaging in. When it comes to races and long-term running, Friesians are not ideal.
These horses are large in stature and can develop diseases that affect their bones. Therefore, Friesians are not suitable for marathon riding or extensive races; they are more built for sprinting and relaxing in between sprints.
However, Friesians are good for soft riding such as casual gallops on soft land or streets, as well as trail riding.
They are known to be easy-going animals and prefer to please their rider, and will enjoy a simple ride around the yard or town, so long as it isn’t for a long duration of time, and they have food and water to help them regain their strength.
How Fast Can Friesians Run?
Don’t let the size of these beautiful beasts fool you, because although they do not run for very long, and they are neither the fastest nor the slowest of equines, they are excellent runners nonetheless, and fast as well.
Friesian horses can run up to 30 miles per hour, which is a moderate speed considering their solid size and build. Based on their age and conditions, they could possibly run up to 36 miles per hour, or at the very least 25 miles per hour.
If there are any types of medical conditions in play, the Friesian will run slower than normal, or not run at all; but at optimal health, these horses can run as fast as a car drives.
Are Friesian Horses Rare?
For the most part, Friesian horses are rare. They are considered rare because they originate from only one place, the Netherlands, and you can only find purebreds in that country.
Because of this, the cost of them is very high, which also makes them a rare breed. Their hair which is purposely grown without grooming or cutting is a hot commodity, only adding to their rarity.
Nobility is also a reason for why they are so rare because Kings and Queens will use these horses for ceremonial purposes, as well as a gift.
Are Friesians Easy To Train?
Friesians can be stubborn when they choose to be or when they feel forced to do something that they are not used to doing.
However, these horses are an intelligent species and very kind to their caretakers and trainer with the ability to learn fairly quickly.
They can excel in most disciplines that they are taught at a rapid rate, within a few weeks at the most. With proper guidance and patience, training a Friesian could be fairly simple.
How Much Weight Can A Friesian Horse Carry?
Due to the fact that Friesians weigh a little more than half a ton, they are more than capable of carrying a lot of heavy weight.
They are well suited for carrying massive amounts of weight, as long as it does not exceed half of their own weight. On average, a Friesian horse can be accommodated to carry a weight of 260 to 350 pounds of weight comfortably.
This includes the rider, saddle, as well as all of the provisions that are necessary to keep the rider and Friesian well-suited and ready for their oncoming adventure.