Horses from France

Breeds of Horses from France: A Complete Guide

France rich history and diverse culture are renowned, and its horses breeds are no exception. People esteem French horse breeds for their elegance, strength, and versatility, making them popular choices for various equestrian disciplines. From the sturdy Percheron to the graceful Selle Français, each breed has unique characteristics that set them apart.

Whether used for agricultural work, sport, or leisure riding, French horse breeds have made their mark on the world stage. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating world of breeds of horses from France, exploring their origins, physical attributes, temperaments, and typical uses. Join us on a journey through the captivating realm of French equine heritage.

History and Origin of French Horse Breeds

Horses from France

French horse breeds have a rich history that dates back centuries. The geography and climate of France, as well as the needs of the people living in different regions, heavily influenced the development of these breeds. Here are some key points about the history and origin of French horse breeds:

  • Early Influences: Conquerors and settlers brought various ancient breeds to the region, tracing back the origins of French horse breeds.These early influences laid the foundation for the development of distinct French horse breeds over time.
  • Selective Breeding: French horse breeders have a long history of selective breeding to enhance specific traits desired in horses. This practice has led to the creation of breeds known for their agility, strength, speed, and endurance.
  • Regional Variations: France is a diverse country with different regions that have their unique characteristics and topography. As a result, different French horse breeds have developed in various parts of the country to suit the specific needs of local communities.
  • Royal Influence: Throughout history, French royalty played a significant role in the development and promotion of certain horse breeds. People not only valued horses for their practical uses but also for their symbolism and status, which led them to breed horses for both functionality and aesthetics.
  • Role in Agriculture and Warfare: French horse breeds have been integral to the agricultural practices and military campaigns of the country. Their strength, endurance, and versatility made them valuable assets in plowing fields, pulling carts, and serving as cavalry mounts in battles.

People worldwide cherish French horse breeds for their distinctive qualities and these breeds actively contribute to various equestrian activities. The legacy of centuries of breeding and careful selection is evident in the diverse and unique breeds that hail from France.

The Most Popular French Horse Breeds

French horse breeds exhibit elegance, versatility, and unique characteristics. Here are some of the most popular horse breeds that originated in France:

  • French Trotter: The French Trotter, renowned for its speed and endurance, is a versatile breed that people use in both harness racing and under saddle disciplines. Known for its elegant appearance and balanced trotting gait, the French Trotter is a favorite among equestrians worldwide.
  • Percheron: The Percheron draft horse breed exhibits strength, intelligence, and a willingness to work. This breed, originating in the Perche region of France, features a muscular build, feathered feet, and a docile temperament. People often use Percherons for agricultural work, carriage driving, and even in competitive draft horse events.
  • Arabian: Although the Arabian horse has roots in the Middle East, France has played a significant role in preserving and promoting this ancient breed. Known for its endurance, grace, and distinctive dished face, the Arabian horse is a favorite among French equestrians for disciplines such as endurance riding, dressage, and show jumping.
  • Selle Français: The Selle Français is a versatile sport horse breed that excels in show jumping, dressage, eventing, and more. Bred for athleticism, agility, and a willing temperament, the Selle Français is a top choice for competitive riders seeking a high-performance partner.
  • Norman Cob: The Norman Cob is a sturdy and versatile French horse breed known for its strength, agility, and friendly disposition. Traditionally used for agricultural work and pulling carts, the Norman Cob is also popular in recreational riding and driving disciplines.

These are just a few of the diverse and popular horse breeds that France has to offer. Whether you are a competitive rider, a leisure rider, or a horse enthusiast, there is a French horse breed to suit your preferences and needs.

Characteristics and Temperament of French Horse Breeds

French horse breeders have shaped the distinctive characteristics and temperaments of their breeds over centuries of breeding and selection. Here are some key traits of the most popular French horse breeds:

  • Selle Français:
    • Athletic and versatile, ideal for show jumping and dressage.
    • Known for their intelligence, willingness to work, and strong work ethic.
    • Energetic and spirited, yet also gentle and trainable.
  • Percheron:
    • Large and muscular draft horses with a calm and easy-going temperament.
    • Renowned for their strength, stamina, and willingness to work.
    • Often used for heavy farm work, pulling carriages, and in forestry operations.
  • Camargue Horse:
    • Small, sturdy horses known for their white or gray coat and resilient nature.
    • Well-adapted to the harsh environments of the Camargue region in southern France.
    • Independent, hardy, and sure-footed, suitable for herding and working in wetlands.
  • Breton:
    • Powerful draft horses with a friendly and willing temperament.
    • Originally bred for farm work and pulling heavy loads.
    • Gentle giants known for their docility, patience, and strength.

These characteristics and temperaments make French horse breeds well-suited for a variety of roles, from competitive sports to agricultural work. Whether it’s the athletic Selle Français or the sturdy Breton, each breed brings its unique qualities to the equestrian world.

French Sport Horse Breeds

French sport horse breeds exhibit elegance, athleticism, and versatility. Here are some of the most popular French sport horse breeds:

  • Selle Francais: The Selle Français is a well-known French sport horse breed that excels in show jumping, dressage, and eventing. Riders around the world highly seek after these horses for their power, agility, and competitive spirit.
  • French Trotter: The French Trotter is a versatile breed that is popular in both harness racing and under saddle disciplines. Known for their speed, endurance, and elegant movement, French Trotters are excellent athletes that can excel in various equestrian sports.
  • Anglo-Arab: The Anglo-Arab is a crossbreed between Thoroughbred and Arabian horses, known for their elegance, stamina, and intelligence. These horses excel in endurance riding, show jumping, and dressage, combining the best traits of their parent breeds.
  • French Saddlebred: The French Saddlebred is a graceful and athletic breed that excels in both English and Western riding disciplines. Known for their smooth gaits, gentle temperament, and versatility, these horses are popular choices for riders of all levels.
  • Norman Cob: The Norman Cob is a strong and sturdy breed that originated in Normandy, France. Norman Cobs, known for their strength, intelligence, and gentle nature, frequently use their versatility for both riding and driving.

Frence sport horse breeds offer a diverse range of qualities suitable for various equestrian disciplines, making them popular choices for riders and enthusiasts worldwide.

French Draft Horse Breeds

French draft horses are known for their strength, endurance, and versatility. Here are some of the most popular French draft horse breeds:

  • Percheron: Originating from the Perche region of France, the Percheron is a well-known draft horse breed. People know them for their strength and willingness to work, which makes them excellent for pulling heavy loads.
  • Boulonnais: Originating from the Boulonnais region, this draft horse breed possesses a muscular build and elegant appearance. People often use Boulonnais horses for agriculture and driving.
  • Ardennes: The Ardennes breed, originating from the Ardennes region, is one of the oldest draft horses breed in France. Known for their strong build and gentle temperament, they are versatile and excel in various tasks.
  • Breton: The Breton draft horse breed, from the Brittany region, has a reputation for sturdiness and adaptability. People use Bretons for agricultural work, forestry, and even pulling carts.
  • Comtois: Comtois horses originate from the Franche-Comté region and are well-regarded for their strength and docile nature. People commonly use them in agriculture and forestry work.

People value French draft horse breeds for their reliability, strength, and gentle demeanor. These horses have a rich history in France and people continue to cherish them for their contribution to various industries.

French Pony Breeds

French pony breeds are known for their charm, adaptability, and versatility. Here are some of the most popular pony breeds from France:

  • Poitou: The Poitou ponies originate from the Poitou region in western France and people recognize them for their strength and hardiness. People often use them for agricultural work and driving because of their robust build.
  • Landais: The Landais ponies are native to the Landes region of France. Known for their agility and endurance, these ponies are commonly used for trekking and leisure riding.
  • Basque Pony: Basque ponies, hailing from the Basque Country in southwestern France, are highly regarded for their sure-footedness and gentle nature. They are popular choices for children and beginners in riding schools.
  • Pottok: The Pottok pony, native to the Basque Country as well, is a small but sturdy breed known for its intelligence and strength. These ponies are versatile and excel in various equestrian disciplines.

People value French pony breeds not only for their physical traits but also for their gentle temperament and willingness to work. Whether used for work or pleasure, these ponies make excellent companions for riders of all ages and skill levels.

Rare and Endangered French Horse Breeds

French horse breeds possess elegance, strength, and versatility. However, some breeds face challenges that endanger their survival and are considered rare. Here are some of the endangered French horse breeds:

  • Merens Horse: The Merens horse, which originates from the Pyrenees Mountains, is a rare breed known for its surefootedness and hardiness. With only a few hundred remaining worldwide, people are making efforts to preserve this ancient breed.
  • Comtois Horse: Hailing from the Jura Mountains, the Comtois horse is a strong draft breed that has been used historically for agricultural work. Unfortunately, due to mechanization and changing agricultural practices, the population of Comtois horses has dwindled significantly.
  • Poitevin Horse: The Poitevin horse, also known as the Mulassier, is a rare French draft horse breed. With its distinctive heavy build and docile temperament, the Poitevin has faced a decline in numbers over the years, with conservation efforts underway to protect this endangered breed.
  • Breton Horse: The Breton horse, which originates from Brittany, demonstrates its strength and willingness to work as a versatile draft breed. Despite being one of the most numerous French draft breeds, the Breton horse still faces threats to its survival, with conservation programs in place to safeguard its future.

Preservation efforts, including breeding programs and promoting their versatility in various disciplines, are crucial in protecting these rare and endangered French horse breeds for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

French Warmblood Horse Breeds

French Warmblood horses are renowned for their elegance, athleticism, and versatility. Here are some popular French Warmblood horse breeds:

  1. Selle Français: The Selle Français breed, developed in France, is a versatile warmblood known for its agility in show jumping, dressage, and eventing. People admire them for their strong build, exceptional jumping ability, and friendly temperament.
  2. Anglo-Arab: A cross between Thoroughbred and Arabian horses, the Anglo-Arab is celebrated for its stamina, speed, and intelligence. It excels in endurance riding, show jumping, and eventing due to its combination of athleticism from both parent breeds.
  3. French Trotter: Originating in France, the French Trotter is primarily bred for harness racing. These horses are recognized for their speed, endurance, and smooth gait. They are also known for their gentle disposition and trainability.
  4. French Riding Pony: The French Riding Pony is a popular choice for children and small adults due to its manageable size and gentle nature. These ponies are versatile, excelling in a variety of disciplines including dressage, show jumping, and eventing.
  5. Norman Cob: The Norman Cob, a sturdy French Warmblood breed, has a reputation for its strength and versatility. People traditionally use them for agricultural work, but they also showcase their skills under saddle and take part in activities such as trail riding and driving.

These French Warmblood horses breed showcase the diversity and excellence of equine breeding in France, providing options for riders of various disciplines and skill levels. French Coldblood Horse Breeds

French coldblood horse breeds have a reputation for their strength, versatility, and endurance. These horses have played a crucial role in agriculture, transportation, and even military efforts throughout history.

Here are some notable French coldblood horse breeds:

  1. Auxois:
    • Originating from the Burgundy region of France, Auxois horses are powerful and muscular.
    • They were traditionally used for heavy draft work in fields and forests.
    • Auxois horses have a reputation for their calm temperament and eagerness to work.
  2. Ardennes:
    • The Ardennes breed is one of the oldest in France, dating back to ancient times.
    • These horses are strong, hardy, and well-suited for heavy work.
    • Ardennes horses have a distinctive bay color with a thick mane and tail.
  3. Breton:
    • Hailing from Brittany, Breton horses are versatile draft animals with a gentle disposition.
    • They come in various colors, including bay, chestnut, and roan.
    • People use Breton horses for agriculture, logging, and leisure riding.
  4. Comtois:
    • Comtois horses, originally from the Franche-Comté region, have earned renown for their elegant appearance and hardworking nature.
    • They are often chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
    • Comtois horses excel in agricultural work and also participate in harness competitions.
  5. Norman Cob:
    • The Norman Cob is a compact coldblood breed known for its strength and docile temperament.
    • People traditionally used these horses for pulling carts and plows.
    • Norman Cobs are often gray, bay, or roan in color.

These French cold blood horses breed showcase the rich heritage and diversity of equines in France, each with its unique characteristics and contributions to various human activities.

French Horse Breeding and Associations

French horse breeders are renowned for their dedication to producing high-quality equines for various purposes, including racing, show jumping, dressage, and more. The French government plays an active role in regulating and promoting horse breeding through several associations and organizations.

  • Le Stud-Book Français du Cheval Anglo-Arabe (SFAA): This association focuses on the breeding of Anglo-Arabian horses in France. The SFAA maintains a registry of purebred Anglo-Arabian horses and oversees breeding standards to preserve the lineage and quality of the breed.
  • Les Haras Nationaux: The National Stud of France, Les Haras Nationaux, is a government-run organization responsible for promoting and preserving French horses breeding traditions. They provide support and resources to breeders, maintain stallion directories, and offer guidance on breeding practices.
  • Association Française du Cheval Arabe (AFAC): The French Arabian Horse Association dedicates itself to breeding and promoting Arabian horses in France. They organize events, competitions, and auctions to showcase the beauty and capabilities of French-bred Arabian horses.
  • France Galop: For enthusiasts of French horse racing, France Galop is a key organization that oversees the regulation of horses racing in France. They manage racecourses, set regulations for breeding and training, and promote French-bred horses in the competitive racing industry.

These associations play a vital role in preserving the heritage and quality of French horse breeds, ensuring that breeding practices adhere to standards that promote healthy, talented, and versatile equines. Through their efforts, France continues to be a leading producer of exceptional horses sought after by enthusiasts worldwide.

French Horse Care and Maintenance

French horses, known for their elegance and grace, require proper care and maintenance to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some essential tips for the care and maintenance of French breeds:

  • Stabling: Provide a clean and spacious stable for the horse to rest and seek shelter from the elements. Ensure proper ventilation and adequate bedding for comfort.
  • Feeding: A well-balanced diet is crucial for the health of French horses. Feed high-quality hay, grains, and supplements as needed. Ensure access to fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming not only keeps the horse’s coat clean and shiny but also promotes bonding between the horse and the caretaker. Brush the horse’s coat, mane, and tail regularly.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise is essential to keep French horses healthy and fit. Provide daily turnout in a paddock or pasture, and engage in regular riding or training sessions.
  • Veterinary Care: Schedule routine check-ups with a veterinarian to ensure the horse’s health and address any medical concerns promptly. Stay updated on vaccinations and deworming.
  • Hoof Care: Regular hoof care is crucial for French horses. Schedule regular visits from a farrier to trim and shoe the horse’s hooves to prevent lameness and other foot problems.
  • Dental Care: Regular dental check-ups and floating of teeth are essential for French horses to maintain proper chewing and digestion.
  • Safety and Comfort: Ensure the horse’s environment is safe and comfortable, with secure fencing, appropriate bedding, and protection from extreme weather conditions.

By following these care and maintenance tips, horse owners can ensure the health and well-being of their beloved French breeds.


  • The rich history of French horse breeds showcases their versatility and adaptability, making them suitable for various equestrian activities.
  • From the elegant and refined French Trotter to the hardy and robust Breton, each breed brings its own unique characteristics to the table.
  • The French breeds such as the Percheron, Camargue, and Ardennes have gained recognition worldwide for their distinct qualities and contributions to various industries.
  • Understanding the characteristics and traits of different French horse breeds can help enthusiasts and professionals alike in selecting the right breed for their specific needs.
  • Whether it is for competitive sports, leisure riding, or agricultural work, French horse breeds offer a wide range of options to choose from.
  • Conservation efforts are crucial to preserving the genetic diversity and heritage of these breeds, ensuring their continued existence for future generations to enjoy.
  • Exploring the world of French horse breeds can be a fascinating journey filled with history, culture, and admiration for these magnificent creatures.

By delving into the captivating world of France horses breed, enthusiasts can appreciate the unique qualities and contributions of each breed, further enhancing their passion for these majestic animals.

Recent posts:


What are the French horses called?

French horses are often referred to simply as “French horse breeds.”

What horse originated in France?

Several horse breeds originated in France, including the Percheron, the French Trotter, and the Camargue horse.

What is the most popular horse in France?

The most popular horse breeds in France include the Arabian, the French Trotter, the Percheron, the Selle Français, and the Camargue horse.

What is the national horse of France?

There isn’t an official national horse of France, but some breeds like the Camargue horse hold significant cultural importance in certain regions.

Are horses popular in France?

Yes, horses are popular in France, both for recreational riding and various equestrian sports.

Does France have wild horses?

Yes, France has wild horses, particularly in regions like the Camargue, where the Camargue horse roams freely in the marshlands.

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