Friesian Horse Temperament and Personality

Friesian horses are known for their high-stepping gait. Their steps are quite high and long, giving the optics of having a lot of air and spacing. This gives the horse a gait that is straight and forward, with just a bit of spring to its step thanks to the strength of its pushing power within the legs.

This description is also quite suited to the Friesian horse temperament which is common within the breed. Friesian horses are both willing and loyal. Once you’ve established a relationship with them, it is something that creates an emotional connection between the handler and horse.

Just like you might have an argument with your best friend, a Friesian is likely to have an argument with you from time to time. They may be considered “placid” in general terms, with a certain friendliness that you don’t see in other breeds, but you will also find that many Friesians, especially the younger ones, tend to be somewhat pushy with their interactions.

Exploring the Willpower of the Friesian Horse

Younger Friesian horses can be quite a challenge to handle. They typically require an experienced handler to help keep their stubbornness and overall pushiness under control. This is because the younger horses within the breed typically have no concept of what it means to give a person or another horse the personal space that is needed.

If you were to leave a young Friesian to its own devices or have a spirited horse under the care of an inexperienced handler, then you would likely see the horse attempting to run over the handler and any other horses that were within their vicinity. It’s very common for them to try pushing over a handler, drag a person with them over to their food, and generally try to control the situation as it unfolds around them.

Yet at the same time, younger Friesians do not like conflict at all. If they experience a stressful situation, then they will attempt to use their handler as a shield against that difficult emotion.

That is why someone experienced with the Friesian horse temperament must be working with younger horses. If these behaviors are not corrected, the end result can be a Friesian who seems himself as more of a house pet than a horse. They are generally not aware of their size, so their gusto to greet you in friendliness can end up being a very dangerous situation. 

By teaching them personal space in their younger years, it becomes possible to bring out the traits of willingness that make the Friesian breed so popular. This one skill can be what is needed to have a friend and safe companion for life.

A Desire for Food and the Friesian Horse Temperament

You’ll find individual horses have different personalities in every breed. Some are quiet and laidback, while others tend to be hot-tempered and borderline crazy. This is in the Friesian breed as well, but there is one area of common ground: these horses love their food.

The food motivation for a Friesian horse is incredibly strong. This personality trait is often harnessed by trainers to teach specific skills to the horse. This motivation can also cause the horse to develop certain unwanted behavioral traits which can be very difficult to break once they form.

Friesians that are highly motivated to eat are horses that are close to being out of control. This breed is generally quite rude when it comes to their food and they will become snappish and aggressive if they feel like there is interference. You’ll even find them becoming pushy and aggressive about the amount of time they receive out in the pasture.

To stop these unwanted traits, it becomes necessary to teach the Friesian skills which involve patience. One of the first skills you’ll want to teach is to have the horse stand away from the gate when it is time to turn them out. This will prevent some of the anxiousness and associated aggressiveness that tends to hover around food.

There are other “stop and wait” skills that will also bring out more of the willingness that can be found in this breed. Have them stand quiet when you’re putting on the halter. Teach them not to pull when walking next to you. Stopping and waiting for the stall door can be useful if there is a lot of anxiety around the pasture gate.

The Impatience of a Friesian Horse While in the Stall

Your Friesian might be calm, gentle, and willing when you’re working with the horse outside, but you might find a complete personality change once it comes to spending time in the stall. Many Friesians become anxious about their feed and personal space when in the stall. It is common to see them paw at the wall, use their feed buckets as toys, or even destroy their feed buckets if they feel like the food isn’t coming fast enough to them.

If you have more than one Friesian, you’ll notice that each of them tends to want to be fed first. You’ll get plenty of joy from the horse that is fed first, but any other Friesian will harbor a certain resentment for being asked to wait. It is necessary to teach this breed to stand quietly and be patient for their feed, respecting the distance and time it takes for every horse to have their fair share.

Friesians are also very sensitive about receiving praise. Their worries can also translate into, “I wonder if my handler/owner really likes me.” If you’re teaching this breed to stand in patience and the horse does this, then giving them high praise will help to relieve that anxiety. At their core, Friesians are more interested in establishing solid relationships than anything else, so encouraging that process, even in difficult moments, can help to bring the horse to its desired temperament traits.

Friesian Horses Are Generally Calm and Stoic

Friesians like a nice routine, but they don’t get spooked by surprising circumstances very often. You’ll find the occasional group likes to run away as fast as possible, but for the most part, a Friesian will just stare down whatever it is that is bothering them, offering a warning snort from time to time.

These horses generally have a “favorite” person as well, which can cause them to stare down and snort at people who they feel might be a threat to the time they get with that person. These bonds create a deep connection which can help the horse accomplish virtually anything, but it also makes it difficult for others to work with the horse at all. For this reason, Friesians are generally not a good general purpose horse for training or riding classes.

The Friesian horse temperament is unique. You will not find a more loyal horse once it has bonded with you. That also means you might just find a horse trying to get into your lap one day.