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23 February 2019   
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French Breeds of Horse

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Selle Francais

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.

The 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.

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