Selle Français

Scientific NameEquus ferus caballus
Common NameSelle Français
Care LevelIntermediate to Advanced
Lifespan20-30 years
Adult Size15.1-17.3 hands, 1,100-1,400 lbs
TemperamentEnergetic, Intelligent, and Willing

History & Domestication

The Selle Français is one of the most notable sport horse breeds originating from France. The term “Selle Français” translates to “French saddle”, highlighting the breed’s primary utility as a saddle horse. Rooted in a rich tapestry of diverse horse types including native French horses, Thoroughbreds, and other breeds, the Selle Français was officially recognized as a distinct breed in the 1950s. It was bred primarily for its athleticism and versatility in equestrian disciplines, such as show jumping, eventing, and dressage.

Over the years, the breed’s reputation grew exponentially, especially in the realm of show jumping where the Selle Français has garnered numerous international titles. Its prowess is not just the result of selective breeding but also a testament to France’s equestrian culture and training methodologies.


Selle Français horses typically stand between 15.1 and 17.3 hands (or approximately 61 to 70 inches at the withers). Weight-wise, they usually range from 1,100 to 1,400 pounds, with their robust and athletic build.


Like many other horse breeds, the Selle Français typically boasts a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. This lifespan, of course, can be influenced by factors such as genetics, environment, care, and overall health management.


Breeding practices for the Selle Français have been rigorous, ensuring the enhancement of their athletic capabilities and preservation of their unique temperament. While initially influenced heavily by the infusion of Thoroughbred blood, modern breeders often prioritize maintaining the breed’s purity. The focus is usually on enhancing traits like stamina, agility, and responsiveness, making them top contenders in equestrian sports.

Unique Features

The most prominent feature of the Selle Français is its incredible athleticism, combined with a powerful yet elegant physique. This breed is often characterized by a large head, expressive eyes, a deep chest, strong back, and muscular legs. Their coat colors are primarily bay or chestnut, though other colors do occasionally appear.

Behavior and Temperament

While the Selle Français is undeniably energetic and spirited, they’re also known for their intelligence and willingness to work. This balance between vivacity and tractability makes them exceptional sport horses. They are alert, attentive to their rider’s commands, and possess an innate desire to please, attributes that are invaluable in competitive arenas.


Given their energetic nature, Selle Français horses are best suited for intermediate to advanced handlers and riders. While they are eager to please, their enthusiasm can sometimes be overwhelming for novice equestrians. They thrive under consistent training regimes, responding best to methods that combine firmness with positive reinforcement.

Grooming Needs

Regular grooming is essential for the Selle Français, not only to maintain their appearance but also to promote overall health. Routine activities like brushing, hoof cleaning, and mane and tail care are crucial. Given their active role in sports, they may also require more frequent bathing and special attention to their hooves and joints.

Diet & Nutrition

As active sport horses, Selle Français may have slightly elevated nutritional needs compared to more sedentary breeds. They thrive on high-quality hay or pasture, supplemented with grains or specialized feeds, especially during training or competition seasons. Fresh water and mineral access remain constants. It’s also worth noting that their diet might require adjustments based on age, work intensity, and health status.


Selle Français horses are hardy and adapt well to various climates. However, as with all breeds, they should be provided with adequate shelter from extreme weather conditions, whether it be the burning sun or freezing snow. Proper stable management practices, including ventilation in the summer and potential blanketing in the winter, can help ensure their comfort.

Common Health Issues

The Selle Français, while generally a robust breed, can be predisposed to certain health issues commonly seen in sport horses. This includes potential joint problems, tendon and ligament injuries, and respiratory conditions. Regular veterinary checks and attentive care can go a long way in preventing, detecting, and managing these concerns.

Habitat Requirements

These horses require spacious environments that allow for regular movement, be it in the form of pasture or daily turnouts. Given their active nature and training needs, facilities equipped with riding arenas, jumps, and safe stabling are ideal.

Cost of Care

Caring for a Selle Français, especially one engaged in competitive sports, can be a significant investment. Potential owners should be prepared for expenses related to high-quality feed, regular veterinary and farrier care, training, and competition entry fees, among others. Additionally, the initial purchase price for a well-bred Selle Français can be notably high. However, for enthusiasts and competitive riders, the rewards of owning and partnering with such a distinguished and capable breed are immeasurable.

Selle Français FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)