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France has been a notable producer of the sports horse since the beginning
of the nineteenth century, when many regions of the country started to
import English Thoroughbred and half-bred stallions to cross with the native
mares. In developing the breed the French included Arab, Anglo-Arab and
French Trotter blood to produce a performance horse. (The French Trotter has
Norfolk Roadster and Thoroughbred blood)
In 1958 the term came into use to describe nineteen different types of
cross-bred horses from various French providences. The stud book, founded
for the Selle Francais in 1965, incorporates all the former local stud
books. The French have selectively bred the Selle Francais by using a
grading system based on the success in competition of the stallions mares
and their offspring. This has proved to produce a very competitive sports
horse and a successful Warmblood in a relatively short period.
There are three catagories of Selle Francais, according to height and
weight. The classification 'medium' or 'heavy' is based on the horse's
weight carrying ability depending on the conformation of the horse. The
medium weight ranges from under 15,3 to over 16.1 and small and large
heavyweights range from under 16 h.h. to over 16 h.h.
The conformation of the breed is similar to the English thoroughbred,
elegant and well proportioned. The head is refined with intelligent alert
eyes and well shaped ears; the neck is long and elegant; the shoulders are
sloping; the girth and chest are deep; the ribs are well sprung; the
quarters are powerful; the limbs are strong and well muscled with powerful
forearms, pronounced joints and good bone.
Any colour is permissible though chestnut predominates.
The Selle Francais has been a great Warmblood success, it has excelled,
above all, in world class show jumping. It also has the speed and stamina to
compete and win at top level three day eventing. On the racetrack it has
proved itself to be as fast as a full Thoroughbred and has sometimes beaten
full Thoroughbred horses.
The brilliant show jumper Jappeloup was by a trotter (Tyroll 11) out of
'Venerable' a Thoroughbred mare. In 1987 and 1988 he was European and
Olympic Champion at Seoul, in 1990 he had a team gold medal in the World
Equestrian games. Jappeloup was unlike most Selle Francais horses as he did
not have a particularly elegant gait. He was notoriously clumsy in the
stable ( it was wise to keep your toes out of reach) and not a particularly
comfortable ride, this was probably due to his powerful hindquarters as he
was known to be croup high (higher behind the saddle than in front)
something typical of the French Trotter.
Galoubet the 1982 world team gold medallist, also had trotter blood on his
dam's side, he was sired by Alme.
The famous World show--jumping champion Baloubet du Rouet was the only horse
in history to be a THREE-TIME consecutive winner - in 1998, 1999 and 2000 -
and a Gold Medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was sired by Galoubet,
as is his internationally known half brother Quick Star.
In the 2002 World Equestrian Games at Jerez, Spain, four Selle Francais
stallions, three of which descended from the Ibrahim line via Alme and his
two sons Jalisco and Elf III, won the Team Gold for France in Show Jumping,
with Dollar du Murier (Jalisco B) winning the Individual Silver Medal.
fourth stallion, Diamant de Semilly is a son of Le Tot de Semilly, the
second French dominating bloodline for show jumping currently producing
world class show-jumpers. The French took the individual gold in show
jumping, and the team gold in eventing in the 2004 Olympics with Selle
Francais horses leading in overall results - only proving again the Selle
Francais breed's superiority in both of these disciplines.