Are Friesian horses good for beginners?

Friesian horses are a type of horse celebrity because they are one of the most useful and well-known breeds. Friesian horses are loved by horse lovers all over the world because they have a fascinating history and origin story. Even young riders can tell what a Friesian looks like and what makes it stand out.

So, what do you do with a Friesian horse? At first, Friesian horses were used as work horses. Friesians were used as warhorses for a long time because of their size, temperament, and other good qualities. In modern times, however, Friesians are used for dressage, trail riding, transportation, shows, and even a few Hollywood movies!

Everyone knows that the Friesian horse has a lot of good qualities and traits. But how useful is this horse breed for someone who rides every day? How long does a Friesian usually live? In this post, we’ll answer these and other questions about Friesian horses and tell you everything you need to know about them.

History of the Friesian Horse

The history of the Friesian horse goes back to the 16th and 17th centuries. This is because the ancient Friesian horse was a popular warhorse among armored knights in the Middle Ages.

At times in history, they were almost extinct, but the people of the Netherlands, who value tradition, saved them and made them as popular as they are today.


The small Dutch province of Friesland is in the northwest of Europe. It is called “Friesland” for short. Friesland has a mild maritime climate, flat green fields, and beautiful coastlines.

That’s where the Friesian horse came from. In the past, these horses were ridden by merchants, farmers, and sailors. Historians believe that the first Friesians were mentioned in writing from as early as 1251. (2).

Most people know about the Friesians because they were used as warhorses in the Middle Ages.

Because they were strong and sturdy, they could carry the knights’ heavy armor. The royal courts of Europe liked how well Friesians pulled carriages, which also made them popular carriage horses for European nobility.

Changes in the past

At one point, Arabian and Andalusian blood was added to the Friesians’ bloodline. This is what gave them their beautiful “Spanish head” and high knee-action.

The Friesian horse almost went extinct twice in history.

The first time was when the Dutch brought Friesian horses to North America to help them keep control of the New York area (2). Because of crossbreeding, the pure breed is no longer found in the US.

Later in the 19th century, people stopped wanting horses that could do more than one thing. Instead, they wanted horses that were faster, thinner, and lighter.

In the 20th century, things got so bad that in the Netherlands there were only 3 purebred Friesians left. The Het Friesch Paard society was started to save the real Frisians, which they did.

Some well-known Friesian horses

There are a lot of well-known Friesian horses that became popular because of movies, books, their good looks, or even dressage.

There are a lot of Friesian horses that became famous just because of how beautiful they were. Othello, Frederik the Great, and Raven are the most famous Friesian horses that people still know about today.


The beautiful Friesian stallion Goliath performed in the movie “Ladyhawke” with Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick, and Rutger Hauer under the stage name “Othello.” Fred De Boer owned Goliath, and he was very thankful to the actors who made the breed famous around the world.

Frederick the Great

When Frederik was six years old, he was brought from the Netherlands to the United States. He was a Friesian stallion who became well-known for how beautiful he was. He was called the most beautiful horse in the world. He even went on Stephen Colbert’s show, The Late Show.


“Free Rein,” a Netflix show that came out in 2017, has Raven as its main star. He is a beautiful Friesian cross who is jet black. The series is about his special connection to a young girl from the United States who moved to the United Kingdom and learned to ride on Raven, even though he has a wild spirit.

Myths and Legends

Even though many people think the Friesian is a magical horse and you might think there are a lot of myths and legends about these beautiful horses, there aren’t that many documented myths or legends about Friesian horses.

Friesian horses have mostly been used for farming and pulling carriages, so there may not be many stories about them.

The Story About Zorro

Tornado is Zorro’s horse, and people say that he is as black as Zorro’s cape.

Many movies and comics have given the fictional horse Tornado many different traits and looks, but in the popular movie with Antonia Banderas, Tornado was played by a Friesian horse named Ariaan.

The Warhorse of the Knights

The oldest stories and myths about Friesian horses come from the Middle Ages. Since Friesians were used by knights when they went to war or fought with their lances.

The Friesian’s sturdy, strong body was perfect for carrying heavy armor. There are a lot of paintings and drawings of horses from the Middle Ages that look like Friesians.

Beatrix, the Princess

When “The Friesian Horse Studbook” turned 135 years old, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands went to Leeuwarden to celebrate the history of the royal Friesian Horse. The royal society’s goal is to keep the history of Friesian horses alive.

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Image source: Stoeterij Koningsland

Features of a Friesian Horse

Friesian horses have traits that make them stand out and are easy to spot. So, even someone who doesn’t know much about horses can usually tell if a horse is of this breed. The Friesian has a strong body like a draft horse and a smooth black coat.

The head of a Friesian horse is a “Spanish-type” head, which means it is long and thin. It has a long, thick mane that is wavy and long. They have feathers, which are hairs that look like feathers, on their lower legs. This is another characteristic of this breed.


The average size of a Friesian horse is 15.3 hands, or 160 cm (63 inches) (1). Compared to other horse breeds, Friesian horses are between medium and large in size.

Friesian mares and stallions are the same sizes. However, if you want your Friesian to have a star designation on its pedigree, it needs to be at least 15.2 hands (62 inches or 157 cm) tall (1).

In general, the size of the breed can range from 15.1 to 17.3 hands. Even though they are draft horses, Friesian horses are tall and elegant, so they can now compete in dressage.

In the past, they were just the right size for knights to use because they could carry their heavy armor (1).


The weight of a Friesian horse is between 1,200 and 1,400 pounds (1). Because they are strong and muscular, their bodies are heavy and strong.

The black Friesian horse is much heavier than other breeds of horses that are the same height. Since they have been used for farming and pulling carriages for almost all of their breeding history, their bones are strong (2).

Even though Friesian horses are big and heavy, they can still do dressage and show jumping. This is because they have an elegant walk and look, no matter how big and heavy they are.


The silky black coat of the beautiful Friesian horse is well-known. This is because the studbook only allows black for Friesian horses (3). So, Friesian horses don’t have as many different colors as other horse breeds.

Some Friesian horse breeds have the “red” gene, which makes their coats chestnut. White and grey are rare Friesian horse colors, but purebreds can’t be those colors (3).

Markings are not common in this breed, nor are they wanted. Only a small white star or mark on the forehead will be accepted (3).

If you are willing to get a Friesian that is a mix of different breeds, you can choose from any color you want. You won’t find a purebred grey Friesian horse unless it has been crossed with a lot of other breeds.


One of the best things about a Friesian horse is how they act. It talks about whether Friesians are warmblood or cold blood. They are descended from coldblooded, but they have been mixed with warmbloods.

Friesian horses are friendly, calm, and gentle (3). The gentle giants are known to be one of the most people-oriented breeds because they are so loving and affectionate with their riders, visitors, and especially children.

Even though they have a calm personality, they are still eager to work out or ride. Your Friesian will be perfect for everything.

The Friesian horse’s behavior is great for riders of all skill levels, and there is nothing bad to say about this breed’s temperament. This breed of stallions is often shown by the United States Equestrian Federation (2).

Care for a Friesian Horse

When it comes to taking care of a Friesian, a lot of time and work goes into it. When it comes to grooming and taking care of their health, they are hard to keep up with.

The average life span of a Friesian horse is 16 years, which is a bit shorter than other horse breeds.

Diet and Nutrition

Friesian dogs are natural grazers, so they don’t need any special food or supplements. This is the only part of taking care of a Friesian that doesn’t require a lot of work.

If you give them high-quality hay, a variety of pastures to graze on, and a salt block to lick on once in a while, they should be healthy and happy (4).

If your Friesian needs more energy, you can give them a mix of grains.

In terms of how much food your horse needs, 18 pounds of hay per 1000 pounds of body weight is a good rule of thumb (4).

Problems with health

Friesians have a few health issues that you should be aware of. Since Friesian horses do best in cooler climates, some of them can get anhydrosis, which means they don’t sweat enough (6).

If the environment is too hot, it can cause problems like infections and poor blood flow. There can also be problems with the breed’s genes, such as dwarfism and hydrocephalus (6).

Because of strong selective breeding, there were fewer bloodlines, which led to inbreeding (6). This is one reason why the Friesian horse breed tends to live a short time (6).

Another illness to watch out for is called “pastern dermatitis,” which can happen to horses with feathers if they are not groomed every day (6).


Friesian grooming is no joke. A Friesian horse is not easy to groom at all (5). Even though Friesian horses are beautiful on the outside, you have to groom them every single day to keep them healthy.

This is because they have a thick mane, tail, and feathers on their lower legs that need to be brushed every day to keep dirt from getting on their skin.

You have to brush the feathers every day and untangle the tail, main, and feathers (5). Friesians can have dry skin that is easily irritated.

So, it’s important to keep the coat and hair clean and in good shape (5). Every two to three days, use a mild soap to clean your Friesian’s feathers.

Are Friesian horses good for beginners
Image source: Max and Murphy

How to Buy a Friesian Horse

If you want to buy a Friesian horse, you need to do your research. Are you aware of the costs, and can you pay for them? If your Friesian gets sick, there may be other costs you didn’t expect.

Has the Friesian breed the personality you want in a horse, and is it as athletic as you want it to be when it comes to working out and riding?

No matter what, you should meet the horse and ride it before you buy it.

Should you get a Friesian horse?

When you own a Friesian, you have a lot of responsibilities. There are a lot of good things about it and even some bad things. The good news is that Friesian horses are good for riders of all skill levels.

Because they are calm and friendly, they are good for beginners because they don’t mind if they make mistakes. They are good for many riders because they can be used in many ways.

You can ride a Friesian horse for fun or as part of a competition.

If you want a showjumping horse, you shouldn’t get this breed. They aren’t made for jumping, and there are other breeds that would be better for you.

Are Friesian horses good for beginners 03
Image source: Janice Smart

What are the bad things about Friesian?

If you want to buy a horse, a Friesian could be a great choice. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, because they are not always the easiest animals to take care of.

One thing to remember is that they are hard to take care of and need to be groomed a lot.

Because they have long manes and tails, they need to be brushed all the time. They also need to take care of the “feathers” on their legs, which are long, silky hair.

The mane and tail can be braided to save time, but the mane, tail, and feathers still need to be cared for all the time to avoid skin infections and diseases.

Friesians are also known to be prone to a number of diseases that are present at birth. This may be because they have been bred from a small gene pool. Some of these are:

  • Dwarfism
  • Hydrocephalus (the accumulation of fluid in the brain)
  • Aortic rupture
  • Megaesophagus (esophageal dilation)
  • Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy
  • Digestive disorders
  • Getting hurt by bug bites

Aside from that, they also live shorter lives than most other horse breeds, with an average of 15–17 years instead of the usual 25–30 years.

They can also be expensive to buy, and their short lives make them even more expensive. If you don’t have a lot of money to invest, this is not the horse for you.

Are Friesian horses good for beginners?

Even though Friesian horses are bigger than most other horses, they can be a great first horse for someone who is just learning to ride. Friesians have a lot of good traits for new riders, like patience, a calm and even temperament, and a friendly personality. But because Friesian horses are so big, it’s important to make sure they are well-trained before letting a beginner rider jump on their back.

If you’re a beginner rider looking for your first horse, a Friesian is probably not the best choice. They don’t live as long as other horses, they cost a lot to buy, and they can get rare diseases.

Are Friesian horses good for beginners 01


What kind of horse is a Friesian?

The Friesian horse is a breed of draft horse that comes from the part of the Netherlands called Friesland. They are called “black pearls,” and they are calm gentle horses.

What does a Friesian horse look like?

Friesian horses are well-known for their silky black coats and beautiful manes and tails that are wavy. Their manes are thick, and their lower legs are covered with feathers.

What does the name Friesian mean?

The Friesian horse gets its name from where it comes from, which is the Dutch province of Friesland. The people of Friesland are very proud of their beautiful black horses.

Can a Friesian horse be ridden?

Yes, you can easily ride a Friesian horse. They are versatile horses that can be used for many things, like riding for fun, competing, or going trekking.

Can a beginner ride a Friesian horse?

Even if you are a beginner and not very good at riding, the Friesan will keep you safe because of its calm and friendly nature.

What is the height of a Friesian horse?

Friesian Horses are pretty tall and can be counted as one of the tallest breeds of horses. Most of the time, they are 61 to 71 inches (51 to 17.3 hands) tall (1).

What is the weight of a Friesian horse?

Friesians are large, strong, and muscular horses. On average, they weigh between 1,200 and 1,400 pounds because of this.

What size is a Friesian?

Friesians look like draught horses because they are tall and heavy, but they can move gracefully and are not as big as draught breeds.

How much does it cost to buy a Friesian horse?

The average cost of a Friesian horse is between $4,000 and $8,000. Most of the price will be based on how the horse looks, where it came from, and how old it is. Friesian foals that are not trained and are from mixed breeds can cost as little as $500.

How much does it cost to own a Friesian horse?

The cost of owning a Friesian Horse is not that different from owning a horse in general. It can cost anywhere from $350 to $800 a month, depending on how much you pay for board and vet care. The prices also change based on where you live or what city you live in. Most city areas are more expensive.

How long do Friesian horses usually live?

The average life span of a Friesian is 16 years, which is a little less than that of most other breeds. People have lived up to 30 years, but health problems caused by too much inbreeding have made this breed live shorter lives.

What is the top speed of a Friesian horse?

The Friesian Horse is neither the fastest nor the slowest in terms of speed. The average speed is between 25 and 30 mph (40 and 48.5 km/h). One of the slowest horse breeds can only run 10 miles per hour, while the fastest can run up to 55 miles per hour.

How strong is a Friesian horse?

With its draught-type body, the Friesian horse can pull a lot of weight, just like the Shire horse. The most they can pull is 400 pounds.

How much weight can a Friesian carry?

Up to 20% of their body weight is what Friesian horses can carry. This means that a Friesian needs to weigh about 1,360 pounds to safely carry a rider who weighs 250 pounds.

When does a Friesian horse reach its full size?

At five or six years old, a Friesian horse is fully grown. A Friesian must be at least two years old before you can ride it. Between 18 and 24 months, horses’ kneecaps grow back together.

What do you do with a Friesian horse?

Friesians can be used for pleasure riding, Western and English riding, pulling a carriage, or even dressage.