As you may be able to tell from its name, the Selle Francais is French in origin; it is actually considered one of France's most important sport horses. The English pronunciation is close to "Sell-fran-SAY", the horse's full name is Cheval De Selle Francais, which happens to translate into "French Saddle Horse". This breed of horse wasn't named an official breed until 1958 and didn't have their first stud book until 1965. They were brought into existence by crossing other French breeds with the Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian. By tracing back in the breed's history, it was revealed that the Selle Francais was one of the few warm blood horse breeds that had very little foreign blood introduced into its bloodline. It also showed that the most influential breed introduced was the Anglo-Arabian.
The horse is actually separated into five different sections based on the size of the rider. The base horses that were bred to produce the Selle Francais are the Hague, Cotentin, Bessin, and Avranchin. In fact, if the studbooks were broken down, it would be show that the majority of the blood came from the Hague; this breed provided the Selle Francais breed with great strength and endurance. The other breeds have provided the breed with a number of characteristics. The Cotentin provided good carting and trotting skills. The Bessin passed on a sense of nobility to the Selle Francais. Finally, the Avranchin genes passed on the medium size to its offspring. After all these horses were bred to produce the Selle Francais, the horses used were eventually made obsolete and put into a single stud book.
This breed was developed around areas of the Government stud farms of Saint Lo and Le pin, which was in the French department of Normandy. There were other French breeds of horse that were used in to the production of the Selle Francais such as the Vendeen, Charollais, Limousin, Corlais, Angevin, Angonin and Charentais. They all played an important role in the development of the breed.
The crossing of the Thoroughbred and the Norfolk Trotter into the mix resulted in the production of two types of horse; the French Trotter and the Anglo-Norman, both of these breeds had a saddle and draft type. The medieval Norman war-horse is the root of about ninety percent of today's modern Selle Francais horses.
Just like many other horses that have made a name for themselves, the Selle Francais is no different. Such well-known horses include "Alme Z", a great show jumper as well as a sire of many other horses. Some of Alme Z's offspring include "I Love You", "Herban", and "Jolly Good". "Galoubet" was foaled in 1975, and by five-years old, was a French Champion and then Champion of France in 1979. "Laudanum," who was foaled in 1967, was an approved French Thoroughbred and then in 2001, he was named the leading sire of show jumpers by the USA Equestrian. There was even an Olympic Gold Medal winner by the name of "Jappeloup".