Selle Français

The Selle Français is a horse breed that originated in France.

They are known for their intelligence and athleticism.

Because of these qualities, the Selle Français is often used in equestrian sports.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a Selle Français or just want to learn more about this breed, read on!

This article will cover everything you need to know about the Selle Français horse.

Selle Français Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Selle Français:

Height (size) 15.1 – 17.3 hands high
Colors Most commonly bay or chestnut, but also gray; white markings on the legs are quite widespread
Country of Origin France
Common Uses Show jumping, eventing, dressage, driving, vaulting, endurance, competitive trail riding, for the production of race horses in France, and they are also used by the Institut français du cheval et de l’équitation (French Institute of Horse Riding), the École nationale d’équitation (National Riding School), and the Cadre Noir

Selle Français Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

Development of the Breed

The origin of the Selle Français may be traced back to the 19th century when local mares were crossed with Thoroughbred and Norfolk Trotter stallions in Normandy.

The most typical crosses included Thoroughbred stallions and those mares that were either bred for pulling carriages or were used by the army.

In the beginning, before the development of the Selle Français as it is known today, there were two types of horses produced from this cross breeding: a fast harness horse known as the French Trotter and the Anglo-Norman, which was further subdivided into two types – a draught cob and a riding horse.

In 1914, these horses were classified as demi-sang or “half-bloods”.

The term “Selle Français,” which literally translates to “French Saddle Horse”, was first used in 1958 when all of the regional half-blood horses were unified under a single name.

The merging was carried out in order to create a sport horse that would meet the demands of a mechanized society in which horses were used for leisure and sport rather than plowing the fields and other similar work.

Due to the variety of local horses used in breeding programs, including Thoroughbreds, Anglo-Arabians, and French Trotters, the original Selle Français were not at all uniform in type.

Since the 1950s, more improvements have been made that have resulted in a modern sports horse that is not only successful in show jumping but also has a high profile in the three-day eventing due to the speed and stamina that the Thoroughbred influence provides.

Originally, the Stud Book allowed for the use of blood from Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Anglo-Arabs, and French Trotters; but, in more recent years, limits have been placed that more closely follow the pattern used by the German Warmblood Stud Books; however, the stud book remains open.

Categorization of Horses in the Stud Book

A Selle Français may only be registered if it is the offspring of two registered Selle Français parents or if it is the offspring of a cross between a Selle Français and a facteur de selle français, which is a non-Selle Français horse that passed stud book selection procedures.

The stallions are put through a rigorous selection procedure.

As part of the procedure, an approval committee evaluates a stallion based on criteria that takes into account its age, breed, and country of origin.

The qualifying requirements include conformation, gaits, and performance. Only then is its offspring permitted to be recognized as Selle Français.

If they are of several origins, the mares can be listed as facteur de selle français.

This category also includes mares that belong to other saddle horse breeds recognized by the European Union (EU).

This classification may also apply to Thoroughbreds, AQPS (Autre Que Pur-Sang), pure or crossbred Anglo-Arabians and French Trotters, as well as mares that are the offspring of two facteur de selle français horses.

If they have achieved a high degree of success in show jumping, three-day eventing, or dressage competition, purebred and crossbred Arabians, saddle breeds that are not recognized by the EU, and some other mares are eligible for listing on an individual basis.

Mares that originate from countries or territories that do not have access to high-level competitions may be eligible for a special listing status.

Selle Français in the 21st Century

The National Association of French Saddle Horses (ANSF) was recognized as the official breed association in July of 2003.

In the same year, the stud book was split into two sections: one for cross-bred horses (facteur de selle français) that have passed inspection, and the other section was for pure-bred Selle Français animals with registered sire and dam.

However in 2009 the two sections were merged into one.

The Selle Français was once bred and sold only in France; however, it is now available for purchase all over the globe, and stud books have been established in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, the majority of breeding still takes place in Normandy.

Over 7,000 foals are born annually, according to the French Selle Français stud book, and artificial insemination has made breeding from approved stallions possible all over the world.

Many Selle Français compete each year in international competitions in many equestrian disciplines with great success, and many have won medals in big competitions like the Summer Olympics and World Equestrian Games.

Selle Français in the Racing Industry

In France, Selle Français are also used in the breeding of racehorses who are then further crossbred with Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabians, resulting in horses used for competitive steeplechase races.

These horses are usually registered as AQPS (Autre Que Pur-Sang = “other than Thoroughbred”).

Before the AQPS studbook was established in France in 2005, certain successful French racehorses, particularly those who competed in steeplechase events, were registered as Selle Français.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names



This is because breeding stock selection criteria have been centered on physical ability from the breed’s establishment.

In recent years, however, the ANSF and breeders have been working on creating selection criteria focused on temperament.

Even though the temperament can vary highly from individual horses, the great majority of Selle Français have pleasant demeanors and are gentle, calm, and quiet while nevertheless being full of energy.

Because of the horse’s substantial degree of Thoroughbred ancestry, it has a temperament that is maybe livelier and more energetic than that of some of the other European Warmbloods, which makes them great sport horses.

Physical Characteristics

A Selle Français may be distinguished from a Thoroughbred by its head, which, although still attractive, is more similar in appearance to that of an old French Trotter.

The profile is either straight or convex.

The neck is strong and quite long, and the back is straight.

The croup is long, muscular and somewhat rounded, and they have powerful hindquarters.

The chest is deep, and the shoulders are long and sloped.

The legs are strong and muscular, the joints are wide, and the hooves are hard.

Overall it is a light framed horse, with plenty of bone, and well-balanced gaits.

Depending on the horse’s capacity to carry a certain amount of weight, animals may either be classified as ‘medium weight’ or ‘heavy weight’.


Most commonly bay or chestnut.

Gray is far less frequent than the other colors, and its history may be traced back to the Thoroughbred and Anglo-Arabian horses that were used in the breed’s development.

White markings, such as white on the lower legs, are quite widespread among the breed and are inherited from its Norman ancestors.

Height (size)

15.1 – 17.3 hands high






1,000 – 1,300 lbs (450 – 590 kg)

Blood Type


Common Uses

Show jumping, eventing, dressage, driving, vaulting, endurance, competitive trail riding, for the production of race horses in France, also by the Institut français du cheval et de l’équitation (French Institute of Horse Riding), the École nationale d’équitation (National Riding School), and the Cadre Noir



Popular Traits

Very athletic with a great jumping ability



Country of Origin



Local horses, Thoroughbred, Norfolk Roadster