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Friesians life expectancy?

Having gone through the shock of losing my beloved lease horse Braam, at what seemed like the prime of his life, at 17 years, I was shocked to do some reading that said their life expectancy was 16 years. :open_mouth:

More reading has found 20 - 25 years, which is more like I would have expected. I am wondering if anyone has any real life experience with this, because I believe there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

I have been mourning him of course, made worse by the thought that he should have had 10 more years in my mind, maybe not an active 10, but drawing breath. If they do indeed have a shorter life expectancy, then maybe it WAS his time.


I know that the breed has/can have some health issues specific to the breed, but I’m not well versed in Friesians.

So sorry for your loss.


Friesians do have statistically shorter lives. They have a very concentrated gene pool too.

I’m so sorry to hear this, you were having so much fun with him.


What? Bram is gone over the Rainbow Bridge? I’m so sorry to hear this. What a fine, handsome horse he was! And I’m sorry you lost a friend and partner.

I don’t know much about the Friesian breed, but perhaps horse breeds are like dog breeds, and there are variations in life expectancies?


I’m sorry for your loss. The ones I’ve known all had shortened time on earth for varying reasons with many passing before 20. Theres a breeder in my area that I loosely know and she seems to consider hers in the early 20s to be very aged. Comparatively, other breeders I know seem to reserve that distinction for late 20s or even well into 30s depending on their breed.


I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.


I am so sorry.

I wonder if the bigger horses do tend to have shorter life spans, just like big dogs do?

There are exceptions of course. Just so sorry for your sudden loss.


I’m so sorry for your loss


This study reports on a survey of 200 Friesians in the US, and reported higher mortality rates in Friesians compared to other breeds. It also provides some insight into causes of death.

A Survey of the Health Issues of Friesian Horses

In the USDA study (Fig. 3), the majority (82%) of total fatalities
were of horses aged 30 years or older, followed by 20-30 years (12%) and less than 20 years
(6%). In the Friesian population (Fig. 4), the majority of total fatalities were of horses aged 3-6
years (44%) and 7-10 years (44%), with the remaining dying under the age of 2 years (11%).


So sorry to hear that you lost sweet Braam.

I recently saw a study about the relatively short lifespan of Friesians. It mentioned that they frequently present with surgical colics in their late teens, and they are also known to have heart problems (aortic rupture I think?). The full Friesians I’ve known, which isnt many–I think three?–all passed before the age of 20. One had colic surgery at 15, then colicked back again at 16. I don’t know the exact causes of death for the other two, just that they passed away around 17/18.


Yes he was a fine, handsome and much loved horse, lots of tears have been shed at the barn, and a 10 year old girl and I had a wonderful cry fest on Thursday. Kids, grown ups, beginners and the more experienced loved riding him, and the Working Equitation community admired him and his owner, for being ambassadors of the sport. But it has to be said I still laugh when I think of him sorting cows, it’s a bit like the ad where they bought a Dressage horse to go racing…he just looked wrong. All kinds of magestic, but wrong.


That’s a scary read, of a small sample size!

Of course deaths at a young age, shifts the average down, but it does appear to be an issue.


I am so sorry for your loss @KBC, I have followed a bit of your adventures with your beloved Braam and it was so apparent how much you loved him and how much fun the two of you were having.


I am so sorry.

I know a handful of saddleseat Friesians and late teens/early 20’s is the usual.


I’m so sorry to read this, he sounded like the most wonderful horse to have in your life. Sending you hugs.


What a beautiful boy he was. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve honestly never thought of the lifespans of larger breeds being shorter in horses, but it does make sense. Big hugs to you and your barn family :heart:


I’m sorry for everyone’s loss.

My BO has worked with many Friesians over the years and she says they just age faster, like bigger dogs. That, plus the limited gene pool. We have one now who’s only 25 but looks 40. She has until winter to put a LOT of weight on him. He IR/Cushings and looks like skin and bones right now. He was doing great, then dropped a ton. Luckily he’s eating everything put in front of him, but he won’t survive the winter in this condition.

They have such great personalities, almost dog-like, and are so gorgeous. I call them a black lab in a horse costume.


Awww @KBC Im so sorry to hear :unicorn::purple_heart:

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I’m so sad to hear that Braam has died. He seemed like an awesome, “everybody’s friend” kind of horse.

I have limited experience with Friesians, but the ones I’ve known didn’t stay healthy. Known 2 with anhydrosis, both dead by 20, and a colic death or 3 to horses in their late teens or early 20s. A stallion with a number of health issues, no longer able to cover mares because of a disintegrating coffin bone. Etc.

The crosses seem to do better.


I’m so sorry to hear about Braam. He was a beautiful horse. He was also very lucky. Some horses never find anyone to love them. Braam had so many people who loved him, and I’m sure he felt it every single day. What a wonderful life he had, and you were a big part of it. [[[Hugs]]]