Use and characteristics of the Selle Français
The Selle Français is a tall warmblood, ranging from 15.1 hands (61 inches/155 cm) to 17.3 hands (71 inches/180 cm) high. Their height, leg length and powerful hindquarters give them the lift required for show jumping, at which they excel. Their world-class reputation in this sport is the reason many equestrians buy a Selle Français. Breed selection is based on ability. This means that breeders who sell a Selle Français ensure that the ancestry includes stallions that have passed the ability selection process for registration. Coat colours are mainly bay and chestnut.
Origin and history of breeding the Selle Français
The modern Selle Français, or French Saddle Horse, owes a great deal to its Norman ancestors, particularly the Anglo-Norman horses of the nineteenth century. This region had been famous for quality horses since the days of William of Normandy. In medieval times, the Norman Cob was valued for its power as a war horse. Later, this type would develop into a renowned draught and utility horse on Normandy farms. In the nineteenth century, the Norman horses were crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce a lighter, active horse called the Anglo-Norman. Other crosses with Norfolk Trotter stallions laid the foundation for the internationally famous French Trotters. From the early twentieth century, all crosses between French breeds and other breeds and types were known as demi-sang, or "half-blood" horses. The Selle Français Stud Book was set up in 1958 in order to draw the demi-sang horses into one registry. By this point, there were identifiable demi-sang regional variations in addition to the Anglo-Norman. These included the demi-sang du Centre, produced in and around Cluny, the Charolais of Charolles, and the Vendéen of La Roche-sur-Yon. The creation of a single registry meant that French breeders could now focus on sports horse breeding since it was clear that this would be the future after mechanisation ended the era of the working horse. The breed association today is the ANSF (Association nationale du selle français, or National Association of French Saddle Horses). Crosses of Anglo-Arab, Thoroughbred, Arabian and French Trotter have always been permissible, and these breeds have been very influential on the Selle Français. The Stud Book today also permits the inclusion of horses that meet the “facteur de selle français” standards. This means that this outstanding competition horse has helped to develop many modern European warmbloods and has also been influenced by them.
Selle Français horses in equestrianism
The modern Selle Français is an all-round athlete, taking part in a range of activities including eventing, driving and endurance riding. They are the horses that the Cadre Noir, the elite French Riding School, mainly uses for haute école training and displays. The breed is probably most famous for show jumping, having had many successes at international level. Examples include I Love You and Galoubet A, a member of the French show jumping team that took gold at the 1982 World Championship. Baloubet du Rouet and rider Rodrigo Pessoa were the gold medal winners at the 2004 Olympics.