How Fast Can a Friesian Horse Run: Speed & Details Explained

Are you curious about the speed and agility of Friesian horses? Wondering just how fast these majestic creatures can run? In this blog post, we’ll answer the burning question: how fast can a Friesian horse run? From their impressive speed to the details of their running style, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these incredible equines. So, saddle up and get ready to learn!

Friesian Horse Overview

Friesian horses enjoying time running

The Friesian horse is a captivating and versatile breed that originated in Friesland, a province in the Netherlands. Throughout its history, the Friesian has undergone numerous changes, yet it continues to maintain its distinctive appearance and endearing temperament. In this section, we will dive into the Friesian horse’s history and origins, modern Friesian, physical characteristics, and temperament.

History and Origins

Friesian horses have a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages in Friesland, Netherlands. Over the centuries, these horses were used as both warhorses and farm animals, known for their impressive strength, agility, and calm demeanor. Friesian horses have also played a prominent role in the development of other popular breeds, such as the Andalusian horse.

Modern Friesian

Today, Friesian horses are primarily used for dressage, driving, and other equestrian pursuits, thanks in part to their remarkable athleticism and willingness to work. While they continue to embody the stunning appearance and temperament that has captivated enthusiasts for centuries, modern Friesians have benefited from advancements in breeding and care practices, resulting in a healthier and more versatile horse.

Physical Characteristics

Friesian horses are known for their striking appearance, most notably their solid black color with minimal white markings. However, chestnut Friesians can occasionally occur, though rare. They typically stand between 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm) and weigh between 1,200-1,400 pounds (544-635 kg).

Their conformation is strong and well-muscled, with a compact body, arched neck, and a short, sturdy back. The Friesian’s thick mane and tail, along with the distinctive “feathers” on their lower legs (long, silky hair that covers their hooves) further enhance their elegant appearance.


Friesian horses are renowned for their gentle, willing, and calm disposition. They are known to be incredibly friendly and exhibit strong bonding tendencies with their human companions, making them a popular choice among equestrians of all levels. Despite their imposing size and power, Friesian horses have a natural grace and athleticism that translates beautifully across various equestrian disciplines.

Now, regarding the Friesian horse’s speed, they can run at an average speed of 25 to 30 mph (40 – 48.5 km/h). Although not the fastest breed, their combination of strength, agility, and endurance makes them a versatile and cherished companion in the equestrian world.

Friesian Horse Abilities and Uses

Friesian horse running in winter snow

Friesian horses are known for their elegance, athleticism, and versatility in various equestrian disciplines. They excel in a range of activities due to their draught-type body and powerful build, making them suitable for both professional and recreational use.

Dressage and Equestrian Sports

Friesian horses have a natural talent for dressage, thanks to their athletic ability and graceful movements. Their calm demeanor and eagerness to learn make them suitable for both beginner and advanced riders. Due to their historical roots during the Middle Ages, Friesians have an impressive ability to carry a knight in full armor, showcasing their strength and endurance.

Carriage and Draft Horse

Originally bred as a draft horse, the Friesian continues to be used in harness and driving roles today. Their strong and sturdy build makes them ideal for pulling carriages, and they can often be seen in Old Towns providing carriage rides for tourists. The Friesian’s elegant appearance and smooth trot only add to their appeal as a carriage horse.

Show Ring and Exhibitions

Friesians are known for their stunning black coat and long, flowing manes and tails, making them eye-catching participants in show ring events and exhibitions. In addition to their beauty, these horses showcase their versatility by participating in trotting races and other equestrian sport horse events, where their poise and elegance are admired by spectators and judges alike.

Trail Riding and Recreational Use

The Friesian’s calm temperament, sure-footedness, and willingness to learn mean they are enjoyable riding horses for trail or pleasure riding. Their ability to adapt to various terrains and forge friendships with other horses in a herd make them ideal for recreational use in various settings.

Friesian Horse Speed

Cold-Blood vs Hot-Blood

Friesian horses are known for their elegant appearance, originating from the Netherlands, and are commonly used for leisure and recreational purposes. They are a medium-built horse breed, often described as a midway point between cold-blooded and hot-blooded horses. Cold-blooded horses are typically heavier, more muscular, and more docile, while hot-blooded horses tend to be agile, light, and faster. Friesians possess characteristics from both groups, such as their muscular bodies, kind temperament, and agility.

Trot and Gallop Speeds

While Friesians may not match the top speeds of more specialized racing breeds like the American Quarter Horse, they still maintain a respectable pace in both trot and gallop. Their trot is one of the most captivating aspects of their movement, displaying grace, power, and smoothness. Friesians exhibit an exceptional extended trot, covering large amounts of ground with their long strides.

In terms of galloping, the Friesian horse’s top speed might not compete with the fastest breeds, but it is still adequate for the tasks they are best suited for, such as dressage, carriage driving, and pleasure riding. Their galloping speed is a result of their well-muscled body, strong hindquarters, and long arched neck that contributes to their overall power and energy.

To summarize, the Friesian horse’s speed is influenced by their medium build, which combines elements of both cold-blooded and hot-blooded horses. Their trot is a remarkable display of elegance and power, while their galloping speed, although not record-breaking, is sufficient for their intended purposes.

Caring for a Friesian Horse

Friesian horse running near a farm field

Grooming and Maintenance

Friesian horses, originating from the province of Friesland, are known for their stunning black coats, thick manes, and long tails. To maintain their beautiful appearance, regular grooming and maintenance is essential. Brushing their coats daily helps to remove dirt and prevent dry skin. Their thick manes and tails require careful detangling to avoid breakage and keep them looking their best. It’s also vital to clean their hooves daily to prevent infections and check for any signs of injury.

Health and Common Issues

Friesian horses can be prone to various health problems, some of which are genetic disorders. One such issue is retained placenta, which can affect Friesian mares after giving birth. Prompt veterinary care is crucial to treat this condition and ensure the mare’s health.

Another health concern for Friesian horses is equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM). This genetic disorder affects the horse’s muscles, leading to muscle weakness and stiffness. Horses with EPSM require a special diet and exercise routine to manage the condition.

Friesians may also experience digestive system disorders, such as anhydrosis, resulting in a decreased ability to sweat. This issue is particularly concerning in hot climates, as it can lead to overheating and heat-related illnesses.

Pastern dermatitis is another common health problem seen in Friesian horses. This skin condition causes inflammation, hair loss, and sometimes even open sores on the affected area. Treatment usually involves keeping the area clean and dry and the use of topical medications as recommended by a veterinarian.

Feeding and Nutrition

Friesian horses have similar nutritional requirements to other horse breeds, with a diet primarily based on forage like hay or pasture. However, they may need specific adjustments to address their unique health concerns. For example, horses with equine polysaccharide storage myopathy may require a low-starch diet to manage the condition. It is essential to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to develop the best feeding plan for your Friesian horse.

Horse Ownership for Beginners

Friesian horses can be a suitable choice for individuals with some prior experience in working with horses, as their care and management involve certain unique aspects. Beginners who are interested in owning a Friesian horse should engage with experienced owners or trainers to ensure they understand the complexities of caring for this breed properly.

Friesian Horse Registration and Breeding

Friesian horse trotting on sand

American Friesian Association

The process of registering a Friesian horse in North America can be done through organizations such as the Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International and the Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA). These associations provide credible registries, guidelines, and support for breeders and owners of Friesian horses.

Inspection and Grading

Friesian horses undergo inspection and grading to ensure the quality of the breed is maintained. Only Approved Studbook Stallions can sire horses eligible for entry in the main studbook registers. There are approximately 100 Approved Stallions in the world today, with about a quarter of them located in North America. Approved Stallions can be easily recognized by the three-digit number following their names.

Breeding for Coat Colors and Size

The most common and desirable color for Friesian horses is black. However, bay and chestnut Friesians can occur, usually as a result of sunlight exposure or genetic factors. The adult size of a Friesian horse typically ranges from 15.1 to 17.3 hands (61-71 inches) in height and 1,200 to 1,400 pounds in weight.

Inbreeding and Genetic Disorders

As with any breed, maintaining genetic diversity in Friesian horses is essential to prevent potential health issues related to inbreeding. Some known genetic disorders in the breed include dwarfism, hydrocephalus (water on the brain), aortic rupture, and megasophagus (enlarged esophagus). Breeders and owners should be aware of these issues and monitor for any signs of these disorders in their horses. Additionally, genetic testing can be a useful tool in minimizing the risk of passing on such conditions to future generations of Friesian horses.

How Fast Can a Friesian Horse Run?

Best looking shinning Black Friesian horse

Friesian horses are known for their impressive beauty and elegance, often characterized by their long manes, tails, and shiny black coats. These horses originate from Friesland, a province in the Netherlands, and have a long history that goes back to the Middle Ages. But how fast can these majestic creatures run?

On average, a Friesian horse can run at a speed of about 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48.5 kilometers per hour). This speed range is neither the fastest nor the slowest among horse breeds. It is worth noting that some of the slowest horse breeds can only reach speeds of 10 miles per hour, while faster breeds, like racing quarter horses, can run up to 55 miles per hour for short distances [1].

The athletic build of a Friesian horse contributes to its moderate speed. Friesians typically stand between 15.3 and 17 hands tall, with a powerfully muscled body, strong hindquarters, and a low-set tail. They also have long, arched necks and well-defined small heads, which adds to their striking appearance [2].

It’s essential to consider that Friesian horses were not primarily bred for speed. They were originally used as warhorses in the Middle Ages, and later on as carriage horses and for agricultural work. Their natural abilities lie more in strength, grace, and endurance rather than sheer speed.

In terms of temperament, Friesian horses are generally calm, friendly, and people-oriented. They don’t startle easily and can adapt quickly to other animals and pets, making them an attractive choice for an equine companion or for participation in various equestrian activities [3].


Friesian horses, while not the fastest breed, can still achieve speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, which is quite impressive considering their size and build. These beautiful creatures possess both strength and elegance, making them a versatile breed capable of participating in a wide range of equestrian activities. Their friendly and calm temperament only adds to their overall charm, ensuring their continued popularity among horse enthusiasts.