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Selle Français

Selle Français
The Selle Français
Distinguishing features: Warmblood type, Showjumper
Alternative names: Selle Française, Cheval de Selle Français
Country of origin: France
Breed standards
French National Organisation: Association Nationale du Selle Français - the French National Organization Breed standards
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Selle Français (SF) is France's most important sport horse. It is renowned primarily for its success in show jumping, but many have also been successful in dressage and eventing.



For English speakers, the pronunciation of the name is close to "Sell-fran-SAY". The full name of the breed is Cheval de Selle Français which translates as "French Saddle Horse". However, the Selle Français should not be confused with the gaited types of Saddle Horse from North America.

Breed Characteristics

Selle Français are supple, strong, with good bone. They are powerful movers, fast, bold, and very trainable. The Selle Français stud book covers a wide range of types. The horses used for sport, especially in showjumping are the most famous, but they are also used for racing , eventing and dressage. Lastly, the non-specialist horses are used for leisure and riding schools.

The horses usually stand 16-16.2 hands high,but can be up to 17 hands high. They are usually bay and chestnut but sometimes roans .

History of the Selle Français

The Selle Français was named a breed in December 1958, with its first stud book published in 1965. The Selle Français was created by crossing regional breeds with trotters, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians. All stock was registered in the stud book with pedigrees tracing back generations, making the Selle Français one of the few Warmblood breeds to have received very little foreign blood.

The most influential breed was the Anglo-Norman, developed in Normandy in the 19th century by crossing Norfolk Trotter, Thoroughbred, and Arabian stallions to refine the local mares (which themselves traced back to the medieval Norman war-horse). About 90 per cent of today's Selle Français trace back to this breed. Other regional breeds used to influence the Selle Français were the Charolais, Corlay, Vendee, Anjou, Ain, and Ardennes.

A small number of Thoroughbred stallions influenced the breed. The first was Orange Peel who stood at the national stud from 1925 to 1940. His grandson, Ibrahim, also had a great influence on the Selle Français. Furioso, who is thought to be the most influential Thoroughbred in warmblood breeding, Rantzau and Ultimate were also incredibly important in the Selle Français breed. The names of these three Thoroughbred sires can be found in virtually every successful modern Selle Français.

File:Fer selle français.jpg
Brand of the Selle Francais

Today, there is still quite a bit of cross breeding between Selle Français and other breeds, making it suitable for a wide range of activities.

Ultimately the history of the breed goes back much further. For centuries, testing and perfecting the sports horse was a consuming passion in France, in the same way as horse racing in the UK. To put this in context, as long ago as 1665, France established its first National Stud,which has become the Haras Nationaux, a network of 23 state-run stud farms dedicated to improving the quality of performance horse breeding. See link below


The breed is not a traditional 'breed' where breed type and the right blood lines are all important. To understand their success the horse lover must understand the grading. For mares and stallions alike, competition success and the success of offspring and other relatives all influence the grading of a horse.

The method of grading horses for breeding is very scientific. It has been devised over many years by the French National Stud Haras Nationaux and, unusually, is applied to both Stallions and Mares. The grading is broken into three distinct parts, judged by at least 2 judges per section.

1. Inspection of jumping ability (30% of marks). This includes

  • Balance on the approach to a fence.
  • Power and scope.
  • Style.
  • Mental approach.

2. Inspection of conformation (40% of marks) The main aim is to determine whether a stallion has a conformation that is likely to allow him to remain sound through a lifetime of competition.

3. Inspection of movement (30% of marks). This includes

  • Trot
  • Canter
  • Walk

Within each of these sub-categories (e.g. Style, Trot) the judges look for specifically defined behaviours and mark on each. All marks for each category are given to the person who presents the horse and are announced openly. This ensures the owner gets as good an understanding as possible of the strengths and weaknesses of their horse while ensuring all judgements are as open and honest as possible. The pass mark is 75% which means a very low pass rate from the general sports horse population. Many apparently very good horses find it hard to get above high 60s and a horse that gets over 80 is truly exceptional.

Well-known horses include

  • Almé Z: foaled in 1966, this show jumper has contributed a great amount to the breed. He sired Galoubet A, Jalisco B, I Love You, Herban, Jolly Good, and others.
  • Galoubet A: was foaled in 1972, and was champion French 5-year-old in 1977, and champion of France in 1979. He finished either first or second in 19 international Grand Prix show jumping events, and was on the French World Championship winning team in 1982 at Dublin. In 2002, he was the top money earning sire American-based sire of show jumpers. He sired two incredible, and very well-known, horses, Baloubet du Rouet and Quick Star. He also sired Irish bred Touchdown, who in turn sired 2002 World Equestrian Games Individual Gold medalist Liscalgot, in Show Jumping.
  • Baloubet du Rouet: was foaled in 1989, and won the World Cup of Show Jumping an unprecedented three years in a row (1998–2000). He was a member of the bronze-winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
  • I Love You: foaled in 1974, by Almé Z, he won the World Cup of Show Jumping at Vienna in 1983. That same year, he was named Horse of the Year in the United States, and has become an important sire of show jumpers.
  • Jappeloup: Olympic Individual Gold medal winner Seoul 1988. Team Gold medal winner 1990 World Equestrian Games at Stockholm. 1986 World Championships 4th Individually.
  • Quito de Baussy: foaled in 1982. Won six international medals in show jumping, including individual and team gold at the 1990 World Equestrian Games at Stockholm.
  • Quidam de Revel: foaled in 1982, was a member of the bronze medal winning French team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where he finished fourth individually. Recognized would-wide as a sire of show jumpers.
  • Laudanum: foaled in 1967, was an approved French Thoroughbred stallion. In 2001, was named leading sire of show jumpers by USA Equestrian. Oh Star, ridden by Todd Minikus, is the son of this stallion.

External links


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