French breeders have always been careful to maintain bloodlines and only use crosses that will benefit the horse. The Selle Francais is no exception. Depending on its use, the Selle Francais excels in dressage, racing, and pleasure riding.
There is no singular characteristic that can be applied to the Selle Francais. This is because the breed is represented by horses from all across France - Selle Francais means "French Saddle Horse," which it literally is. In general, the horse is tall with excellent conformation. It is separated into five sections based on the size of rider.
It is impossible to talk of the Selle Francais' origins without speaking of all the regional breeds of horse throughout the French horse breeding regions. Horses developed in these regions--the Hague, Cotentin, Bessin, and Avranchin--that have been crossed with Anglo-Norman horses began to carry many similarities. As a result, all of these regional breeds were effectively made obsolete in 1958 and put into a single stud book, the Selle Francais.
If one were to effectively break up the Selle Francais stud book today, the horses making up the bulk of the blood would be those from the Hague, producing strong, tough horses; the Cotentin, producing good cart and trotting horses; the Bessin, producing animated and noble horses; and the Avranchin, producing strong, medium-sized horses.
1. Norman 2. Arabian 3. Thoroughbred
For more information:
North American Selle Francais Horse Association