Breeding Goals

The goals of the KFPS breeding program is to make progress not just in the short term, but also in the long term. It is imperative that breeding policies preserve sufficient genetic variety in the Friesian population, especially for a closed studbook such as for the Friesian horse. This is to limit the increase in inbreeding, which is the cause of the occurrence of hereditary defects and decreased fitness (fertility, resistance to diseases, life expectancy, etc.)

Breeding Program

The KFPS' breeding program is designed to realise a formulated breeding goal (see below). The breeding program consists of the following components.

  1. Description of the information on which the selection is based
  2. Method of estimating the genetic aptitude for the breeding-goal characteristics for individual horses in the population
  3. Systems for selection
  4. Evaluation of the selection response

Breed Standard Goal

The following describes the KFPS breeding standard goal. To breed;

"A functional, harmoniously built and usable horse that has the Friesian breed characteristics, is healthy and vital, and has aptitude to perform in the sport."

The breeding goal consists of various aspects that can be subdivided into:

  1. Exterior and movement
  2. Use
  3. Vitality and health.


    Breed characteristics
    A horse that by its characteristic front, abundance of hair, black colour, and roomy, elevated gaits (knee action) makes a luxurious and proud impression.
    A small, expressive, noble head, in which the eyes are placed far apart. The nasal bone is preferably a bit dished. Large nostrils. The jaws are light and the length of the opening of the mouth long. The eyes are large and clear. The small, attentive ears point lightly towards each other.
    The long neck and poll together form a lightly upwards sloping line. The neck shows much elevation.
    The Friesian horse has an abundance of hair in the form of mane, tail, and feathers.
    The colour of all hair is black. White markings are allowed on the face if they do not exceed 3.2 cm and are not located below the eye line. White markings elsewhere on the body of the horse are not allowed.

    A harmoniously, functionally, evenly, and upwardly built horse with a long forearm and not too heavy in the body. The horse is placed in a rectangle with a ratio between front end, middle section, and hind end.
    Head/neck connection
    a. Poll - the poll is long (hand-width) with a flowing connection to the neck.
    b. The throatlatch - the throatlatch has an open underline with room at the throat.
    The neck is long with good upper musculature, which creates a light curvature. The neck comes high out of the chest and has a flowing connection with the withers.
    The shoulder is long and sloping (an angle with a horizontal line between 45 and 50 degrees). The angle of the chest has to be minimally 90 degrees.
    Rib cage
    The ribs are long and curved.
    The high withers flow smoothly into the back.
    The back is strong and muscled (not tight or weak). The back has a flowing connection with the withers and loins. The length of the back is proportionate to the length of the front end and hindquarters.
    The loins are strong (not tight or sunken), broad and muscled, and flow smoothly into the croup.
    The croup is long (measured between the vertical lines of the point of the hip and seat bone). It is lightly sloping and muscled.
    Gaskin muscle
    The gaskin muscle is long and developed.
    The front legs are as seen from the front placed perpendicularly with a hoof width in between. As seen from the side the front leg is perpendicular through the fetock joints. The forearm and the cannon are long. The fetlock joints are oval and dry as seen from the side. The hind legs are straight (parallel) as seen from behind. As seen from the side the angle of the hock is between 145 and 150 degrees. The gaskin is well-muscled. The hock is dry, hard, and well-developed (broad and deep). The fetlock joints are oval and dry as seen from the side. The pasterns are long and flexible. The front pasterns have an angle with the ground of 45 to 50 degrees. The hind pasterns have an angle with the ground of 50 to 55 degrees. The feet are of good size and well-shaped, even, and befitting the horse. The feet are wider in front than behind.

    The walk is roomy and a pure 4-beat. The legs are straight in walk as seen from the front and behind. The hind leg shows bend in the hock and is powerfully and well placed under the body. The hind leg moves the foreleg, which is moved forward with room and lots of freedom in the shoulder.
    The trot is a pure 2-beat. The hind leg is powerfully and well placed under the body and shows with good bend in the hock. The front leg shows knee action and is well placed forward. The trot is characterized by suppleness and a long moment of suspension. The horse shows good balance and rises in the front with an elevated neck. As seen from the front and the back the legs need to be straight.
    The canter is a pure 3-beat. The canter is roomy with a front leg that reaches forward and the inside leg carrying. The canter is upward and shows a long moment of suspension, lots of suppleness, and balance.


    The purpose of use of the Friesian horse varies from recreational use to participation at the highest levels of competition sport. The disciplines in which the Friesian horse is used are:

    • Show driving
    • Dressage under saddle
    • Driving
    • Combined driving
    • Endurance
    The objective is to improve the aptitude for sport in all uses. Condition for this is that the easy character of the Friesian horse is maintained, which will continue to keep the Friesian horse an exceptional horse for recreational use. As a utility horse the Friesian horse is a very versatile horse. This does not mean however, that each horse must display aptitude for all disciplines to the same degree. Within the breeding goal there is room for specialization without the need to diversify into different breeding types. The breeding goal description for exterior and movement is universal for all disciplines and use. The (added) value of the Friesian horse in sport consists of the combination of the following characteristics;

    • Easy to use and work with
    • Eager to learn and intelligent
    • Impressive and elegant
    • Versatile
    In order to improve the position of the Friesian horse in the sport, high demands are placed on the following characteristics which together determine the aptitude for sport;

    • Movement
    • Exterior (build)
    • Stamina
    • Character (willingness to work and sociable)
    • Durability
    • Healthy


    With the breeding of Friesian horses high demands are placed on the following characteristics that together determine vitality and health:
    • Vitality (durable and healthy)
    • Fertility (stallions and mares)
    • No hereditary defects

Sport Goal

The KFPS goals for breeding sport horses should be seen in connection with the breed characteristics of the Friesian horse as described in the KFPS breed standard goals. Taken from the official KFPS website, the following quote describes the KFPS sport goal.

"A horse with a functional conformation for sport which displays characteristics typical of the Friesian breed, is healthy and vital, and possesses sufficient capacities and condition to perform well in equine sports."

The KFPS breeding goals for sport horses have been formulated within the framework of the KFPS breeding goals. Within the framework of the KFPS breeding goals, it is possible to specialise in order to produce Friesian sport horses that retain the willingness and manageability of the Friesian horse and that can achieve well at recreational as well as at high competitive levels.

The breeding goals for sport horses focus on:

  • Dressage
  • Combined driving
  • Show driving