What Is The Selle Francais Breed? A Detailed Guide

After researching showjumping and learning of this breed’s great successes in that discipline, this breed of horse caught my attention. I was impressed by this french breed in its jumping career, especially after learning that the most expensive showjumping horse ever sold was a Selle Francais. I began to research this beautiful breed and decided to write about everything I’ve learned.

What Is The Selle Francais Breed?

The Selle Francais is a warmblooded breed of horse that was developed in France. Known primarily for its impressive jumping ability, this breed is a top choice for top level showjumping competitions and some cross country and eventing competitions as well. This breed is just above average in height and weight and is primarily seen as chestnut or bay. They have a great temperament overall and are very willing horses.

Does This Breed Have More Than One Name?

The Selle Francais is known by three names. These names are:

  • Selle Francais
  • Cheval de Selle Francais
  • French Saddle Horse

It is by these three names that this breed is known.

How Big Is The Selle Francais Horse?

The Selle Francais is slightly above average when it comes to their height. These horses can stand between 15.2 and 16.2 hands high. It isn’t common to see one of these horses stand anywhere below or above this height.

The average weight of this breed is 1,300 pounds making them weigh slightly less than other jumping breeds, but still more than the average horse.

What Colors Can Selle Francais Horses Be?

The Selle Francais is a breed that is usually only seen in a few colors. These colors are:

  • Bay
  • Chestnut
  • Black (rare)

The most common color that these horses can be is chestnut though bay is the next most common coat color.

The History Of The Selle Francais Breed

The Selle Francais is a relatively new breed as compared to other breeds like the Barb or the Arabian. This breed is mainly from the Normandy area of France and the creation of this breed began in the 1800s. The main bloodlines crossed to make this breed were the Norman horses who lived in this region, French Trotters, Norfolk Roadsters, and English Thoroughbreds brought over to France.

The Norman horses brought stamina and endurance to this breed which is still a strong trait of the modern Selle Francais. The Thoroughbred brought incredible speed and strengthened the horse’s stamina.

Some half-bred stallions containing Norfolk Roadster and French Trotter blood were bred into the early Selle Francais horses. These early Selle Francais horses had a more concentrated trotter bloodline in them and still, these horses could jump really well. One of these, a horse named Jappeloup, was extremely successful and made it all the way up to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Another one of these horses, named Tyrol II, won a team golf medal in the 1990 World Equestrian Games. Both of these champion horses contained a lot of French Trotter blood which caused more introduction of the French Trotter into the Selle Francais bloodlines.

Once this breed was developed, they sadly, like many other breeds, lost many of their members to the first and second world wars.

In an effort to restore the breed’s previous numbers, many influential Thoroughbred stallions were added to the bloodline. These stallions include Lord Frey, Orange Peel, and Ivanhoe. More recently the stallions known as Furioso and Ultimate have been added.

Traits Of The Selle Francais

This breed is an athletic breed of horse and it is noticeable as this horse is athletically built. They have a quality head with bright expressive eyes and a fine muzzle. Their forehead is broad and often has facial markings on it (stars, stripes, blazes, etc.). This horse has a long muscular neck and well sloped shoulders that allow for great leg extension. Their back is straight and they have a smooth croup that is pretty level with their withers. The hindquarters of this breed are slightly sloping and meet with a high-set tail. The legs of this breed are solid and strong. The cannon bone of this horse should not be less than eight inches long. The forearms of this horse are strong and well muscled. The joints are of good size as well.

What The Selle Francais Excels In


Showjumping is this breed’s specialty. Having been brought to the Olympics and World Equestrian Games numerous times, it is proven that these horses are a top of the line jumping horse.

The French showjumping team frequently uses this breed in competitions because it does so well in this discipline.

Cross Country

Thanks to the Norman and the Thoroughbred blood that this breed carries, the Selle Francais does really well in cross country. Their exceptional stamina and natural jumping ability make them a great choice fo this competition.


The great temperament of this breed shows when they enter the dressage arena. These willing horses do great as dressage horses and display their great temperaments, acceptance, and obedience. Their great conformation helps them in dressage as well as this is what part of the dressage competition is judged on.


Some Selle Francais horses are fast and agile enough to race against the Thoroughbred racehorses. This is due to the incredible traits that the Thoroughbred breed brought to the Selle Francais, the most important for racing being speed and stamina.

How Long Does The Average Selle Francais Horse Live?

The Selle Francais lives to be around 30 years old which is about average for horses their height and weight. Their long lifespan can be credited to their great conformation and natural athletic build. They are healthy horses as well which also helps to prolong their lives.

Fun Facts On The Selle Francais Breed

  • They most commonly come in chestnut
  • A Selle Francais gelding named Palloubet D’Halong was the most expensive Selle Francais and showjumping horse ever sold! This horse sold for $12.8 million!
  • The Selle Francais helped to develop some famous breeds such as the Holsteiner
  • The average price range of the Selle Francais is between $40,000 and $120,000 (USD), but some can cost much more

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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