Breeds of Horses - A to Z
The Breed was developed in France in the nineteenth century by importing
from England the Norfolk Roadster, half-bred and Thoroughbred stallions and
crossing them with Norman mares. In 1922 it became a recognised breed as it
had produced and is still producing some of the worlds most successful
The two most influential stallions were the half-bred 'Young Ratler'
(sometimes known as 'The French Messenger') by the Thoroughbred 'Rattler'
and 'The Heir of Linne', both foaled in the early nineteenth century and 90%
of French Trotters can be traced back to them through five important blood
lines stemming from them; Conquerant, Normand, Lavater, Phaeton and Fuchsia.
Conquerant and Normand were both by Young Ratler Lavater who was by a
Norfolk Roadster. Fuchsia (foaled in 1883) was the most prepotent of all the
stallions and sired nearly 400 trotters. Over 100 of his sons produced
Continued efforts were made to improve the speed of the breed and over the
years some American Standardbred blood was introduced. However, in 1937 the
Trotteur Francais Stud Book was closed to non French-bred horses and it has
only, in recent years, been opened to admit some carefully selected French
crossed Standardbred horses.
The French have a strong tradition of trotting races of which 10% are
ridden. The first ridden trotting races took place in 1806 on the Champ de
Mars in Paris. As the popularity of the sport grew the first purpose built
tracks were opened. The first being the racetrack at Cherbourg in 1830. The
first governing body for the sport was formed in 1861, as a result of an
Imperial decree to encourage trotting races.
France is one of the few places where ridden trotting races are run.
Usually horses are used either under saddle or in harness but occasionally
outstanding horses materialise that are equally brilliant under saddle or in
harness. Venutar, Masina, Tidalium, Pelo and Ballino 11 have all won both
the Prix de Comulier the premier ridden trotting race in France and the Prix
d'Amerique the premier driven trotting race in France. Both races are over a
distance of 1mile 5 furlongs (2,650m).
In order to cope with the weights imposed on the ridden horses the breed has
consistently improved. The French Trotter is well built with good
conformation it is similar to the Thoroughbred but is less refined and
generally has more substance and it is bigger and more upstanding than the
Standardbred. The head varies, but is usually like a Thoroughbred only less
refined; it has a fairly long neck; strong well sloped shoulders; a short
strong back and body; a deep girth and chest; powerful sloping quarters,
typical of trotting horses; fairly long, strong limbs; the paces are long,
level and ground covering, the best examples of the breed are able to trot
at the pace of a Thoroughbred gallop. The average height is 16.2 h.h. larger
horses are normally only used under saddle. It is often bay, brown or
chestnut in colour, though all colours are admissible, grey is rare.
Usually horses are used either under saddle or in harness but occasionally outstanding horses materialise that are equally brilliant under saddle or in harness. Venutar, Masina, Tidalium, Pelo and Ballino 11 have all won both the Prix de Comulier the premier ridden trotting race in France and the Prix d'Amerique the premier driven trotting race in France. Both races are over a distance of 1mile 5 furlongs (2,650m). The qualities of the Anglo-Norman French Trotter have played an important roll in the breeding development of the Selle Francais and Tyroll11 a French trotter sired the famous Olympic winning, Selle Francais, show-jumper Jappeloup.