Selle Français Horse

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
fast facts

About Selle Français Horse

1,300 lb
Large, muscular, powerful
30 years
Best Suited For
Horse owners and riders with some experience in handling larger horses
Smart, energetic, friendly, patient, easy to train
Comparable Breeds
French Trotter Horse, Anglo-Norman Horse
Selle Français Horse Breed History

The Selle Français Horse, also known as the French Saddle Horse, is a French horse breed that originated in Normandy during the 19th century, when Norfolk Trotter stallions and Thoroughbred stallions were bred with native mares. Later, in 1914, these horses were recognized as half-blood horses, and they were seen in even more regions throughout France. As a result, different types of horses were typically named after the region that they were bred in.

It was not until 1958 that the Selle Français Horse was created by bringing all of the half-blood regional horses throughout France together and giving them a single name. The different types included the Charolais, the Vendeen, and the Anglo-Norman. This merger was completed in an effort to develop a sport horse breed that would be able to fulfill the demands of a society that needed the animals for sport and leisure.

The Selle Français Horse is also known as the French Saddle Horse.

Because many different local horses were crossed with Anglo-Arabians, French Trotters, and Thoroughbreds, the first Selle Français horses were genetically diverse, with the Norman origins being the most obvious. Over time, however, this breed has become increasingly more refined and has become a sought-after sport horse.

In 2003, the National Association of French Saddle Horses became the approved breed association for the Selle Français. Breeding still takes place in Normandy but the horse is also bred in other countries, and the Selle Français has contributed to other breeds as well.

Breed Traits

Selle Français horses can be described as being patient and friendly, as well as quiet, intelligent, and energetic. These animals are fast learners, and they are talented, spirited, and lively horses that are bold yet easy to train. You could have a lot of fun with these horses, as they could excel at a variety of tasks, such as riding, mounted athletics, work, and dressage.

Selle Français horses are athletic and excel at jumping.

Overall Description

Overall, Selle Français horses are athletic and muscular, yet they feature an elegant profile and a light frame.

In appearance and size, the Selle Français horse is similar to the Thoroughbred, but you will notice that the Selle Français has a slightly heavier build. Also, the Selle Français has a head that resembles the French Trotter more than the Thoroughbred.

When looking at a Selle Français horse, you will note that this breed features a convex or straight facial profile, a broad forehead, and a large head, along with an elegant, strong, and long neck that is well connected to the withers. The muscular legs are strong and feature hard hooves and wide joints.

These horses also feature a deep chest and an elongated croup that is slightly oblique and muscular. The shoulders are sloping and long, the body is strong throughout, the back is straight, and the hindquarters are powerful, making these horses accomplished jumpers.

The Selle Français is considered friendly, patient, and intelligent.


Even though the Selle Français horse can showcase all equine colors, the most commonly seen are dark colors, such as bay, brown, and chestnut. Other colors that are often seen amongst these horses include gray and roan. Also, white markings, such as those that would be found on the lower legs, may be seen within the Selle Français breed as well.

Grooming Requirements

When it comes to grooming your Selle Français, you could follow a standard equine grooming routine to keep your horse clean. Grooming sessions are also a wonderful opportunity to bond with your horse.

Whenever necessary, you could use a gentle shampoo specifically formulated for horses so that you could thoroughly clean the skin and coat. However, this will not always be needed, especially when brushing will do the job.

To groom your Selle Français, you could start by cleaning out the hooves with a hoof pick. Make sure to examine the hooves at the same time to be certain that there aren’t any signs of infection or injury.

When you are done with the hooves, you could move on to the coat. By using a curry comb in circular motions, you could remove debris and dirt that has gotten stuck in the horse’s coat. For sensitive areas like the lower legs and the head, however, don’t use a curry comb; instead, use a body brush, which is a gentler tool that will help you remove even more dirt and dust from the coat. Then you can also use a dandy brush to get the coat totally clean by using swiping and flicking motions. And when you have gotten the coat to be shiny, sleek, and clean, you could move on to the tail and the mane by using a mane comb and a tail brush to remove all of the tangles and get the hair to be smooth and soft. Finally, you could finish every grooming session by using a damp, soft cloth to gently clean the delicate areas near your horse’s ears and eyes.

Photo credit: Sarah Barry

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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