KFPS Royal Friesian

KFPS Breeding goal


The breeding goal is the foundation of the breeding- and selection programme of the KFPS. The breeding goal provides an image of the ideal Friesian horse in all its facets. Every 10-15 years the breeding goal is adjusted. 


On the one hand, the breed characteristics as indicated in the mission of the KFPS are leading for the breeding goal. On the other hand, the best way to position the Friesian horse in the equestrian spectrum is also taken into consideration. Generally speaking, we can claim that in terms of character (reliability) the Friesian breed has a clear advantage over other specialised sport breeding programmes, and compared to (most) other breeds has a clear advantage in terms of aptitude for the sport. The above has led to the strategic choice of lending equal weighing factors to breed characteristics, character (reliability) and sport aptitude within the present breeding goal. Additional defined basic high-priority requirements are health and life expectancy.


KFPS Breeding goal

A functionally-built utility horse possessing the Friesian breed characteristics, that is healthy and vital, has the aptitude to perform in the sport, has a reliable character and good trainability.


The breeding goal is based on the principle that the goals relating to exterior and use may never be at the expense of animal welfare.



1.         Health and vitality

2.         Character

3.         Exterior

4.         Sport aptitude



An important aim in the breeding of Friesian horses is selection on health. The Friesian horse must be suitable for use in the sport, recreational purposes and breeding up to an advanced age. The following aspects play an important role:


  • Minimising hereditary disorders.
  • Fertility. Stallions need to have an anatomically correct reproductive organ with acceptable semen production. Mares must be easy to impregnate and capable of problem-free foaling.
  • Vitality. Friesian horses need to enjoy good health. For sustainability the horse needs a healthy skeleton and good-quality muscles, tendons and ligaments.


2          CHARACTER

The pleasing character of the Friesian horse is a key breed characteristic that may never be lost. Therefore the KFPS has explicitly included character in its breeding goal. The objectives relating to character are subdivided into two main aspects: reliability and trainability.



The Friesian horse is a level-headed, honest horse with easy contact manners.



The Friesian horse is intelligent and has a cooperative attitude and is therefore easy to train. The Friesian horse possesses perseverance and a good work ethos.



3          EXTERIOR

When we talk about exterior we are actually referring to two aspects: the breed characteristics that so strongly distinguish the Friesian horse from other equine breeds and the functionality of the exterior.




A horse with an appearance that radiates class thanks to its impressive front, abundant feathers, black coat colour, elegant outline and elevated paces.



A small, expressive and noble head. The eyes are large and set wide apart. From the side the nose has a slightly dished profile. The jaws are light. The ears are small with the tips slightly pointing at each other.



The neck and poll are long and together form a light upward arch. Neck conformation is vertical. Seen from behind the crest of the mane is straight.



The Friesian horse has abundant hair in mane, tail and socks.



The Friesian horse has jet black coat colour and ideally, no white markings.



A functional exterior serves the intended use and objectives regarding constitution and life span. This is about conformation and legwork of the Friesian horse.




The Friesian horse has an upward build that is functional and harmonious. The horse is athletic with good muscling. The horse stands in a rectangular model with the proportions 1:1:1 for forehand, mid-section and hindquarters.



The neck is long, lightly curved and rises high from the chest. The head-neck connection is light. The neck has a flowing connection to the withers.



Shoulder conformation is long and sloping.



The withers are well-developed and flow smoothly through to the back. The back is strong with a flowing connection to the loins. The loins are strong and wide with a flowing connection to the croup.



The croup is long and lightly sloping.


Height at withers

The preferred height at withers for Friesian horses is about 165 cm.



The legs are the ever so important foundation of the horse.



Forelegs and hind legs have correct conformation and stance. The joints are clean and dry.



Seen from the front and side, stance of the forelegs is vertical with the feet one hoof width apart. The forearm and cannon are long.


Hind legs

Seen from the side the hind leg shows the optimum angle. The hock joint is dry, hard and well-developed. Seen from behind, stance of the hind legs is parallel.


Fetlocks & Pasterns

Seen from the side, the fetlocks are oval-shaped and dry. The pasterns have satisfactory length and optimum stance.



The feet are a generous size, well-shaped and a symmetrical pair.




The Friesian horse is a versatile utility horse. A utility horse must have good movement mechanism, a functional exterior, stamina, willingness to work and a cooperative mentality. For the Friesian breed the aim in terms of sport is to be competitive at elementary/sub top levels and to progress to the highest level.



The breeding programme is directed at the following disciplines in equestrian sports:

1.    Dressage under saddle

2.    Driving dressage

3.    Combined driving

4.    In-harness sports



In use, be it recreational or in the sport, correct movement of the horse is important. It is beneficial for the horse´s welfare and supports sustainability and performances.



The paces are regular and rhythmic. The horses move in an uphill outline with lots of balance and engagement from the hindquarters. They show use of the body and capacity for transitions.



The walk displays a sound 4-tact rhythm. Seen from front and back the legs are placed forward in a straight line in walk. The hind leg is placed well forward under the body with good activity. The foreleg is placed forward with lots of forward reach.



The trot displays a sound 2-tact rhythm. The hind leg is placed forward under the body with power and good reach so that the horse develops self-carriage. The hind leg shows good bend in the hock. The foreleg shows knee action and is generously placed forward. The horse moves in an uphill outline showing suppleness, balance and a satisfactory moment of suspension. Seen from the front and back the legs must be placed forward in a straight line.



The canter displays a sound 3-tact rhythm. The canter shows activity with good reach in front from a carrying hind leg and a forward-reaching foreleg. The canter is uphill with a good moment of suspension, suppleness and balance.



This breeding goal describes the objectives regarding the individual breeding goal characteristics. However, they also need to be considered in context with each other.



The relative weighing between exterior and sport aptitude/movement is set at 40:60. This weighing mainly plays a role in the inspection of Friesian horses.



The trainability of the Friesian horse for the benefit of the sport is constantly being improved, but this may never happen at the expense of its reliability.


Adopted Members Council meeting autumn 2021