Friesian Blood Study by Dr. Kathy Fox

I am happy to report that the original research project by The Fenway Foundation has been officially launched!!

“Blood Reference Intervals of the Healthy Adult Friesian Horse” started officially on the 17th of April, with 12 horses from Wisconsin participating in our first blood draw.  It went well, with horses being VERY cooperative (despite how they feel about veterinarians…….LOL) and owners being enthusiastic and well prepared.  The results will be tallied once an appropriate number of samples have been analyzed, with the idea being that we will begin the process of including horses from across the country in the very near future.  It is good to get this started and we, at the Fenway Foundation, are excited to be able to conduct a meaningful study that will help Friesian owners and their veterinarians understand this breed a bit better.  It will take time to get all of the sampling done, but we will keep you updated on our progress.  To those of you who are interested in participating, please email the Foundation and let us know.  We can contact you and see if your horse meets the criteria to be included in the study.  To those of you who have already indicated to us that you are interested, this would be the time to email and let us know that you are still willing to participate and we can work with you and your veterinarian to get your horse done as soon as possible.  As a reminder of the criteria, your horse must meet the following:


  • ages 3-18
  • healthy (no illness within 30 days of the blood draw) and not currently on any  medication
  • not pregnant or lactating
  • current negative Coggins Test
  • not vaccinated within 30 days of the day of blood draw
  • no strenuous exercise within 48 hours of the blood draw
  • must be fasted for 4 hours prior to the blood draw

We need to sample from both genders, hopefully splitting the samples 50:50 amongst males and females as we work toward our final numbers.

I was asked, recently, to remind us all why we are doing this study.  I believe that as we learn more about horses, we realize that while they “all have 4 legs and nicker”, they can also be different from each other in some important respects.  Defining what make a Friesian’s blood work alike and different from the reported values of the general equine population can help us all to do a better job with a greater degree of confidence as we work together to keep this wonderful horses healthy.

I asked the participants of our first group of horses to tell me why they agreed to let Jamie VanLinn and I come to their farms and take blood from their Friesians, to let them be a part of research, and below are a couple of their responses:

“We appreciated your enthusiasm, your professionalism and your expertise.  We are so appreciative of the in depth investigation of the Friesian breed, by professionals who are giving us insights into the medical characteristics, who in turn, will give us the knowledge that will lead us to better breeding of the Friesian horse. Thank you Fenway Foundation, for who you are, what you are doing and what you are giving to all of us…….”

“It was great to be included as part of the study.  As an equine enthusiast and Friesian owner and lover, I was very happy to participate.  I’ve known the heartbreak of losing horses.  If there is something that can be done to prevent the premature loss of our friends and partners, I think it is important to assist where possible.  We spend so much time and money on training and caring for these animals.  It is our responsibility to make wise breeding, feeding, and care decisions for this breed we love. “ 

I believe that these owners have said it all.  We are grateful to all who have and all who will participate with us as we move through this research project.  We are committed to providing all of you who love and care for these horses with meaningful information that can be applied to the everyday care of your Friesian horses.